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Grateful Dead: See Career-Spanning Photos From Massive New Book

‘Eyes of the World’ collects portraits, candids and live shots from 1965 through 1995

eyes of the world book grateful dead

See a career-spanning selection of Grateful Dead portraits, candids and live shots, taken from the new book 'Eyes of the World.'

© Rosie McGee

During their initial 30-year career, the Grateful Dead transitioned from Bay Area bar band to one of America’s most beloved and enduring cultural institutions. In addition to countless audio recordings, the group left behind a rich trove of images, shot by some of rock’s greatest photographers. A recently released book, Eyes of the World: Grateful Dead Photography 1965 – 1995 collects more than 200 Dead shots, taken by more than 60 photographers, including Annie Leibovitz, Mark Seliger and the volume’s co-editor, Jay Blakesberg.  

eyes of the world grateful dead photography book

Below are 10 images from the book (some originally shot for Rolling Stone), with commentary from the photographers themselves, who were interviewed by the book’s other co-editor – and former Relix editor-in-chief – Josh Baron. Eyes of the World is available now via Rock Out Books.

Mickey Hart May 4, 1977 The Palladium New York, NY

Mickey Hart May 4, 1977 The Palladium New York, NY

© Peter Simon

“Drummers Take Notice” (Peter Simon, 1977)

In the spring of 1977, Peter Simon got a call from Rolling Stone that he’d been selected by the band to photograph them for a forthcoming story. “Garcia in particular liked my fly-on-the-wall style and let me go anywhere, though [tour manager Steve] Parish had some misgivings about me being granted full access given what the band was often getting up to.”

Simon embedded with the group for a short stint, joining the entourage for its May 4th show in New York and its May 7th show in Boston.

“Jerry told me he like me the best because I was the most ‘left-wing’ photographer that he’d ever dealt with. And I said, ‘What do you mean? Do you mean that politically?’ He said, ‘No, just the way you approach things. You’re very laid back, you don’t order people around and you fit into the woodwork. You have a real peace-and-love attitude and you’re not asking us to do things we wouldn’t want to do normally anyway.'”

Though the Rolling Stone piece never ran, the images Simon captured from that time have circulated among fans for yaers. (A number of them can be found in the recent box set May 77: Get Shown the Light.)

“Little did I know at the time that this was going to be their best tour historically speaking,” says Simon today. “It was just a fun gig and a dream come true for a true Deadhead to be asked to travel around with them.”

June 16, 1974 Iowa State Fairgrounds Des Moines, IA

June 16, 1974 Iowa State Fairgrounds Des Moines, IA

© James Lee Katz

The Wall of Sound (James Lee Katz, 1974)

For 30 years, James Lee Katz’s concert photographs sat untouched in a shoebox. It wasn’t tell until the late Nineties that Katz got an inkling he might want to do something with them.

“When I would visit download sites for music, particularly those with a Dead-heavy focus, I would see people post pictures or talking about this show or that show,” recalls Katz, now a Baltimore-based lawyer. “I had pictures from these shows. So I scanned a bunch of images from the shoebox and started throwing up a few here and a few there. I just liked the fact that people enjoyed seeing them. Over time, a fair number got out there.”

Katz, whose first Dead show was a double bill with the Allman Brothers Band in June of 1973, recalls the first time he experienced the Wall of Sound PA which the band used throughout the following year.

“The first time we ever heard it outside, in its full glory, was that Des Moines show,” says Katz. “It’s not just that it was gigantic, visually impressive and intimidating but the sound quality was impeccable. The separation between the instruments was incredible. You could hear each one very well. The music sounded pristine.” (A large portion of the show was officially released as Road Trips Volume 2, Number 3.)

Katz took his camera to a whole string of shows that fall, though the Des Moines shots stood out. “It’s just easier to take good pictures outside with daylight,” he says.

As a fan, he’s simply been happy to share his images with other fans. In his words, “I was just a Deadhead with camera.”

Bob Weir October 31, 1967 “Trip Or Freak” Winterland Ballroom San Francisco, CA

October 31, 1967 “Trip Or Freak” Winterland Ballroom San Francisco, CA

© Jim Marshall Photography LLC

Bob Weir, “Trip or Freak” (Jim Marshall, 1967)

Several previously unprinted Dead images by famed rock photographer Jim Marshall appear in Eyes of the World. One of those was found in 2014 while Jay Blakesberg was researching photos with the Jim Marshall Estate when he came across a proof sheet marked “Janis Joplin” in the photographer’s archives.

“The estate was working on the book The Haight: Love, Rock and Revolution and we pulled about 3,000 proof sheets from 1965 to1968 for the first edit,” says Blakesberg. “Because the proof sheet made no reference to the Grateful Dead, the five frames of Bob Weir in face paint shot at the ‘Trip or Freak’ concert were undiscovered for nearly 50 years.”

Phil Lesh July, 1969 Fairfax, CA

July, 1969 Fairfax, CA

© Baron Wolman

Phil Lesh (Baron Wolman, 1969)

Rolling Stone ran its first Grateful Dead cover story in 1969. “[Jann Wenner] asked me how I wanted to shoot the photos,” recalls Baron Wolman, who, at the time, was the magazine’s chief photographer. “Since two of my photographic heroes were Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, and their most powerful portraits were done against a seamless background with minimal lighting, I decided that I, too, would do individual portraits of each band member against a gray seamless backdrop, and then do a group photo.”

Unfortunately for Wolman, bassist Phil Lesh was not feeling well the day of the shoot and was a no-show, which stymied the group photo. However, that shoot did yield one of Wolman’s most well-known photos of Jerry Garcia – in which, for the first time ever, the public could clearly see the missing portion of his middle finger. (That image is also in Eyes of the World.) To complete the assignment, Wolman drove up to Fairfax in Marin County to Lesh’s house a few days later.

“There was no way to recreate the studio environment but I did capture some fun portraits using a wide-angle lens,” says Wolman. “Since these photos were so different than the rest of the portraits, it never seemed like a complete session to me, which is why this photo has never been published before this book.”

When Lesh saw the photo for the first time recently, he chuckled, “Ah, Reddy Kilowatt,” in reference to his band nickname of the time.

Jerry Garcia June 1987 Club Front San Rafael, CA

June 1987 Club Front San Rafael, CA

© Michael O’Neill

Jerry Garcia (Michael O’Neill, 1987)

The cover of Rolling Stone 504, released in July 1987, featured the magazine’s logo wrapped in thorny roses with the headline “The New Dawn of the Grateful Dead.” Michael O’Neill was assigned to shoot the foldout cover, timed to coincide with the six-date Dylan & The Dead stadium tour that summer.

O’Neill was dispatched to California to setup shop at the band’s Front Street headquarters in San Rafael. Then–photo editor Laurie Kratochvil wanted a group portrait along with individual portraits of the band members.

“The guys all thought Dylan was going to be there,” says O’Neill. “It was going to be a portrait with Dylan and the band but Dylan didn’t show up.”

After finishing the group portrait, O’Neill shot each band member individually. “What I love about this portrait is that it felt like Jerry being Jerry,” says O’Neill of the image above. “It’s not like Jerry lit up a joint to smoke with me. It was just a natural part of who he was. He wasn’t trying to be a jokester, prankster or happy dude. He was in the depths of his mind and the joint just went along with that trip. There’s a kind of inquisitiveness, a kind of questioning in the eyes like, ‘What’s going on?'”

While this is O’Neill’s best-selling Grateful Dead image, he handed over nearly 40 contact sheets from the session for Eyes of the World editor Josh Baron to review. The majority of his eight images included in the book have never before been seen. 

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