The bass player for the greatest improvisational band in American history tells the full, true story of his life, Jerry Garcia, and the Dead.Phil Lesh first met Jerry Garcia in 1959 in the clubs of East Palo Alto, California. At Garcia's suggestion, Lesh learned to play the electric bass, joining him in a new band that blendedR&B, country, and rock and roll with an experimental fervor never before heard. Now, in time for the Grateful Dead's 40th anniversary, Phil Lesh offers the first behind-the-scenes history of the Dead--a story no one will ever know as he does. From their first gigs to the legendary Acid Tests, in San Francisco's Summer of Love, at Woodstock, Monterey, Altamont, and the Pyramids, the Dead have been in the center of rock's defining moments. Phil Lesh tells what it has been like to live at the heart of this whirlwind, making uncompromisingly original musicwith bandmates Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Pigpen, Mickey Hart, and especially Jerry Garcia, the charismatic, enigmaticsoul of the band. He tells the stories behind songs like "Dark Star," "Friend of the Devil," "Truckin'," and his legendary composition "Box of Rain." And in intimate detail, Leshdescribes what it was like to storm heaven night after night--and the price he and others have paid, up to and following Jerry Garcia's tragic death in 1995. SEARCHING FOR THE SOUND is a ruthlessly honest look inside one of thegreatest American bands, written with humor, intelligence,and a deep affection that only Phil Lesh himself could provide.
Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh has written the memoir one might have expected: energetic and flawed, but sure to be loved by fans. Lesh joined the band's original members--Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzman and "Pigpen" Ron McKernan--in 1965 and helped morph the legendary outfit from its beginnings as a jug band to the unique, psychedelic improvisational jam band that spawned arguably the most loyal, iconic audience in popular music history: the Deadheads. What a long, strange trip it was. For 30-plus years, from being the house band for Ken Kesey's acid tests to stadium tours in the 1980s and '90s, the band pioneered a new paradigm for musicians, operating as an extended, albeit dysfunctional, family. Along the way, three keyboardists died, two managers robbed the band, bad deals were signed, massive debt was accrued and drug and alcohol problems flared. In 1995, the trip finally ended (or did it?), when Garcia died. Lesh infuses his prose with his wacky personality, which is endearing, but also maddening, especially when he's rendering acid trips or discussing music. Indeed, many fans who twirled ecstatically at Dead shows will struggle to follow Lesh's extended explanations of the band's compositions. Also, the second half of the band's life gets short shrift. Nevertheless, Deadheads will surely celebrate Lesh's honest, intimate remembrances.
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Back Bay Books
April 16, 2005
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