a blog by wallace winfrey

Grateful Dead/ Brouhaha Roundup


If you haven’t heard the news, it seems that there’s been a partial reversal of GDM’s (Grateful Dead Merchandising) decision to pull all of the live Grateful Dead concert recordings that had been posted at’s Live Music Archives. Here’s a roundup of links:

  • On November 29th, Rolling Stone reported on the matter, quoting David Gans’ main points on his blog at the time (“fans have sense of entitlement” & “fans are greedy” — to paraphrase), with GDM spokesperson Dennis McNally telling Rolling Stone that Gans was “dead … on”. The Rolling Stone article also mentioned the boycott, which at that point, was about 1400 signatures. Even the New York Times reported on the matter in their Arts section, with a quote by McNally saying “The idea of a massive one-stop Web site that does not build community is not what we had in mind. Our conclusion has been that it doesn’t represent Grateful Dead values.”. The New York Times (unlike Rolling Stone) actually talked to Gans, who by that point (in my opinion) was starting to feel a bit of heat from his comments supporting the move, who very thoughtfully said: “the idea that they could stop people from trading these files is absurd, It’s no longer under anyone’s control. People have gigabytes of this stuff.” Try terabytes if they’ve collected more than 100 shows…
  • Also on the 29th, John Perry Barlow spoke to BoingBoing, with some very strong words: “How magnificently counter-productive of them. It’s as if the goose who laid the golden egg had decided to commit suicide so that he could get more golden eggs.” He also said it had been basically everyone but Phil’s decision, and that Mickey and Bill wanted a complete removal of all Dead recordings from the web, period! What a couple of numbskulls.
  • On November 30th, Phil Lesh commented on the matter, saying that he hadn’t been in on the decision and wasn’t even notified that the shows were to be pulled! He also revealed himself as an enthusiastic user of the archive, and promised that fans’ concerns had been heard. Consider me a HUGE fan of Mr. Lesh at this point.
  • Later in the day, it was announced that the archives were coming back online, at least the audience recordings.
  • Yesterday, David Gans reported on Bob Weir giving an interview with Denver’s KBCO, and Bobby basically gives a big fuck you to the petition seekers.
  • Today, David posts a bunch of great articles on what benevolent guys the Dead were when the going was good, here and here.

It’s definitely been a crazy week with all this, and a reminder of just how big this band used to be in my life. I only went to shows between 1989 and 1995, and really, after spring tour 93 my interest really began to die off, but the reverbations of that six-year period will last the rest of my life. I was devastated when I heard Jerry died, but believe it or not, sharing my grief with my then-only-a-friend Melissa was one of the things that brought us together.
Missy and I had known one another for about a year, but had gotten off to a rocky start dating-wise (we went out once, and it didn’t really turn out great), but I remember we were at our friend Dan’s house, and when we got to talking about it, and how it made us feel — believe it or not it was that shared sense of loss and grieving that planted the seed for a new beginning between us. We would start dating less than a month later, and have been together ever since. I don’t think it was being sad that brought us together, but more it was just realizing that we could share such an intense emotion together. To this day, I’m grateful (no pun intended) that something that’s been so positive for me personally (the love of my life!) could arise out of something that was seemingly so negative.
What’s next? Well, you can bet I’m going to be spending a lot of time pulling down audience recordings from the archive. I’m also going to pick up the Deadhead’s Taping Compendiums, and whatever Deadbases I can find. I’m also planning on buying ALL of the Dick’s Picks and live recordings that have been officially released to show my gratitude for the band’s decision to allow the restoration of the audience recordings. I’ll document those purchases on this blog. In a way, I’m kind of glad this happened. It definitely rekindled a spark of interest in an amazing band that I had let techno snobbery get the best of. Not any longer!

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