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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.

Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia

January 31, 1991 Club Front San Rafael, CA

© Jay Blakesberg

Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia (Jay Blakesberg, 1991)

“When I got the call from Blair Jackson asking me to shoot Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter together for a joint interview he was doing for The Golden Road, I started floating in the air,” recalls Jay Blakesberg. While he had shot the band onstage many times, and had taken portraits of Bob Weir, this was his first opportunity to shoot a formal portrait of Jerry Garcia.

“I got to the Grateful Dead office and was shown into a tiny room with barely enough room to set up one light stand and umbrella and where the only place for me to sit was on top of the desk. I loaded up my Hasselblad with some film, had two 35mm camera bodies with color and b&w film, and was prepared to spend 15 to 20 minutes crafting memorable portraits.”

Within about minute of them sitting down and only a handful of shots taken, the publicist said Blakesberg needed to wrap up. “I freaked out a little,” he admits. 

He quickly shot the duo portraits and a handful of solo portraits of each of them, and finished up two minutes later.

“Looking back now, more than 25 years later, I can see there are almost no portraits of Garcia and Hunter together which makes these even more special. And it was this session that also landed me perhaps my most iconic solo portrait of Garcia.”

July 24, 1987 Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium Oakland, CA

July 24, 1987 Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Stadium Oakland, CA

© Jay Blakesberg

Dylan and the Dead (Blakesberg, 1987)

“At this point, I was still just bringing my camera in as a fan with no credentials and no special access,” recalls Blakesberg of shooting the iconic 1987 tour. “I got in early and found a spot up front where I could get a clear angle of them on stage. I shot about 10 rolls of film and ended up with a nice selection of images that I was happy with. I particularly love this one because it has some good energy in the body language and Bob is wearing his trademark late-Eighties Daisy Dukes.”

Jerry Garcia October 18, 1974 Winterland Arena San Francisco, CA

October 18, 1974 Winterland Arena San Francisco, CA

© Russ Dugoni

Jerry Garcia (Russ Dugoni, 1974)

“The buzz was that this could be the last show,” recalls Russ Dugoni, who shot two shows of the band’s four-night Winterland run in the fall of 1974. “I captured this shot with my elbows resting on the stage as Jerry was bending some sweet notes during ‘Dark Star’ or ‘Morning Dew.’ It was the last frame on my roll.”

Phil Lesh July 14, 1984 Greek Theater Berkley, CA

July 14, 1984 Greek Theater Berkley, CA

© David Gans

Phil Lesh (David Gans, 1984)

“The Greek Theater was a wonderful place to see a show and the band members liked the acoustics of the open-air bowl,” says David Gans, photographer, author and host of the long-running weekly radio program The Grateful Dead Hour. “People sitting higher up could see the Golden Gate behind the stage. East Coast friends would marvel at how blasé we were about the show, compared to the much more intense audience vibe in venues such Madison Square Garden.”

“I started out as a fan and then became a journalist,” says Gans, whose first show was at Winterland in March of 1972. “The Dead were my favorite subject and, over time, I became friendly with various band members. For a few glorious years, I was able to hang out onstage and in other intimate places. I was careful not to bring my camera out at inappropriate times, of course.

“I remember, in one of my early interview with Phil Lesh, he interrupted himself during an answer and said, ‘You really have done your homework.’ I think they trusted me to put the music first and to help explain what they were doing.” 

Grateful Dead September, 1969 Novato, CA

September, 1969 Novato, CA

© Rosie McGee

The Grateful Dead (Rosie McGee, 1969)

“It all happened really fast,” recalls Rosie McGee of shooting the Dead in 1969. In September of that year, Warner Bros. was getting ready to release the Live/Dead album, culled from two Fillmore West shows earlier that year. At the last minute, the label called the Dead’s headquarters, urgently requesting a band photo for the interior of the album.

“I was watching the rehearsal, probably rolling joints and just hanging out with my boyfriend,” laughs McGee who, at the time, had been dating Phil Lesh for several years. “It was lucky for Warner Bros. that I was there and had my camera with me.”

She quickly ran outside to check the light conditions and find a location. She found the abandoned car, determined it well suited for her needs and ran back inside to interrupt the band’s rehearsal as the sun had already started to set.

“Once I’d settled the band into their positions, Jack Casady threw himself face down into the dirt to be part of the first couple of photos,” says McGee of the Jefferson Airplane bassist who happened to be on hand. “Then, I made him move so I could ‘get serious’ and take more photos, including this one.”

Warner Bros. ended up using an image with Casady in it, converting it to black and white, eventually using it as an official PR image as well. This picture is an outtake from that session. Among the objects on display are the original paintings of the album’s front and back covers done by Bob Thomas, who, at the time, was living at the band’s headquarters in a loft in return for being the facility’s night watchman.

“I was the girl with the camera,” says McGee of her youth and early days being around the band. “What people appreciate about my photos of that era are their intimacy and candid nature.” 

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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