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Living with the Dead:: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead Paperback – 28 Aug 2001
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About the Author
Rock Scully worked for the Grateful Dead for twenty years and lives in Marino del Rey, California. David Dalton, co-author of Faithfull: An Autobiography and Rock 100 (both published by Cooper Square Press), lives in Delhi, New York.
Top customer reviews
We all know Garcia was far from a neophyte when it come to drug use,but the latter half of the book,from 1976 onwards,when he falls ever deeper into heroin dependence,along with Scully,is an eye-opener,as well as being an indictment of the other band members.Both Garcia and the others could see they were in a rut creatively,that they were one long party for the Deadheads rather than innovating,and their having to come to terms with failure-from the Summer Of Love,when all appeared possible,to the grim reality of Reagan's America("Greed is Good")-all contributed to the band's descent into the trap of drugs,as well as their collective refusal to face up to to the above-mentioned problems.
The stories from the earlier years are funny and warm-hearted,and all the talk of the Dead's studio output shows the role of drugs in stifling their creativity,whereas the live shows seemed to liberate it.Being in a band with a leader who refused to lead-and face it,Garcia WAS the Dead-couldn't have been much fun for anyone in and around the band.
Well worth a read,and better than Scrib McInally's tome,which tries to evade contemplating the less-noble side of the band.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The book was funny. The history of the Pranksters, of Mountain Girl, The Wall of Sound, Bear Owsley, the LSD and the amazing amount of things this band consumed, how they lived, and how they built an audience is amazing. Just reading about their equipment was amazing. You could read this in an afternoon (about 400 pages.) Definitely worth buying
Other reviewers here are essentially correct about where this book stands in relation to other tomes regarding the Dead: Jackson's biography of Garcia is well-written but heartbreaking, Lesh's autobiography is gritty but inherently dry and technical, and McNally's history of the band is detail-oriented but distant. None of them have the "everyman" quality that this book has, that certain human relatability that draws you in by the lapels and keeps you there with engrossing stories-within-the-story on every page. The result is a 400-some-odd-page book that can be finished within a day, instead of the others which need to be approached systematically like a textbook if you're going to finish them at all.
A good example is the blow-by-blow account of the Dead's meeting with Warner Brothers executives to tell them that they want their next live album to be named "Skullf***." Other books give a shorter version of this story, a paragraph or two, but Rock gives us a page and a half going into minute detail. And the length of the episode does not slow the narrative down at all: it just makes the incident funnier.
McNally and other authors have referenced this book disparagingly, calling its accuracy into question (without citing specific reasons as to why they hold this opinion), but the reader should keep in mind that each viewpoint of a rolling juggernaut like this would be inherently subjective anyway. Rock's job, being the band's manager, puts him as close to the fire as a person can get without being a musician himself. To relate this perspective in an objective way he would have to step back, take on another viewpoint besides his own, and with that added baggage of self-doubt this book would be too heavy to even consider.
One of the reasons this book works so well is that Rock holds his own observations to be self-evident and does not doubt the veracity of his own opinion. He saw what he saw, experienced what he experienced, and holds nothing back.
Whether Rock is true to the facts is for others, as close to the fire as Rock, to say. Scully is true to himself here and makes no apologies, which is probably the best lesson anyone can take from this book: anything Life throws at you, taken with a dose of humor, can distill down to an entertaining narrative given enough time. There is a certain human glory there that no objective history can approach.
Rock Scully, long time manager of the Grateful Dead, gives an in depth, inside look at one of rock music's best known drug band.
Scully holds nothing back as he describes the life of Jerry Garcia and his band mates. Life as a rock idol isn't easy. Especially when you have to deal with the drugs and debauchery that goes with the territory. It is well written, with the exception of lots of typos (in the Kindle version). This would be 4-5 stars if not for that. Scully writes of many problems associated with the band; mostly drug related. Problems with customs agents getting around Europe, drug busts in SF and New Orleans, Jerry Garcia and other band members struggles with Cocaine and Heroin addictions. Unfortunately, he never takes any personal ownership for these things. He admits to his own Heroin addiction and his supplying and enabling Garcia in his trip into addiction. As manager of the band he is responsible for what goes on (as any manager will tell you), He is a drug dealer/smuggler, outlaw, and enabler. It appears that he never even tries to keep the band from horrible end that it comes to. He admits that he is finally fired by the band members (after 20 years of managing) for stealing money from the band and for "ripping off Jerry Garcia", which he denies (except for the smack that he steals from him while they share a place in San Rafael). For the tye-died in the wool GD fans, this is a book to add to your library. Lesh's " Searching For The Sound" and McNalley's "Long Strange Trip" are also recommended.
It's almost as if each chapter could have started with "If you think that was crazy, wait till you hear what we did next..."
There's a lot about the early days of Acid Tests and Folk Festivals, of which much has been written. But then there's episodes of lesser renown, but equal hilarity, such as the night Garcia hung out with Keith Moon in a major NYC hotel, or the Dead's "borrowing" of over $1M worth of equipment as payback for not getting paid. Or, the dosing of Geraldo Rivera right before his interview of the band.
Felt like I was right there on the bus with Jerry and the boys... I'll excuse the numerous spelling and grammatical errors on the Kindle version, because this was one extremely FUN read!
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