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.