On July 9, 1995 at Soldier Field in Chicago, the Grateful Dead performed for the last time with Jerry Garcia, their extraordinarily talented lead guitarist and songwriter who died the following month at the age of 53.
Twenty years later, the Dead are performing what they say will be their series of concerts, the Fare Thee Well Tour, winding up with three 4th of July weekend shows in Chicago that will punctuate a fabled 50-year run as one of the most innovative, influential, and beloved bands in rock history.
Perhaps nothing in pop culture better epitomizes the psychedelic scene than the Dead, immortalized here by one of the most intrepid observers of that era, Ed McClanahan, who would go on to write the hilarious novel The Natural Man; Famous People I Have Know, an enduring collection of pieces about the ’60s; and the career-spanning anthology I Just Hitched in From the Coast. McClanahan first wrote about the Dead for Playboy in 1972. This longer—and better—version of “Grateful Dead I Have Known” appeared in My Vita, If You Will and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.