When famed painter Wes Lang was tapped to create the artwork for the Grateful Dead‘s upcoming box set Spring 1990, it must have felt like something had come full circle for him. Back in high school, Lang replicated Grateful Dead images on the back of his buddy’s jean jacket, which led to his math teacher calling him into the office over the PA system – so he could enlist Lang to paint Dead artwork on his Vietnam coat. Lang’s teacher then took him to see the Grateful Dead live in concert in 1990, a year considered by many fans to be one of the band’s finest. “That was it,” Lang explains in this exclusive video clip for the box set. “I just got real into it.”
When guitarist Jerry Garcia passed away in 1995, Lang’s math teacher called him up in tears. The two holed up for a few days, eating pizza and listening to Dead tapes. After that, “I didn’t go see any concerts for years,” says Lang. “Even if I liked a band, I just wouldn’t go. Nothing felt right.”
“The Grateful Dead, for me, is America at its finest,” Lang states in his biography. “Their tales of life and death, love and loss, brightness and darkness encompass the true story of this great country of ours. Sinners are redeemed, fortunes are found, the lives we all lead or wish we did.”
These are sentiments that Lang echoes in his own artwork. See his cover art for Spring 1990 at dead.net. Plus, check out this clip in which Lang discusses his longtime love affair with the Grateful Dead.