The Insane Stories You Never Heard About The Grateful Dead

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The Grateful Dead crystallize a very unique time in our recent history. The group’s personalities also deserve mention, so unique that they could fill separate stories: the legend of Jerry García and his alliance with the lyricist Robert Hunter, or the underrated Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, or the tragedy of Ron Pigpen.


Acid Was Part of Their DNA

Author Ken Kesey’s relationship with the Dead was the start of the Acid trip when he introduced their most influential yet unofficial member: Owsley “Bear” Stanley. Ken Kesey was remembered as a famed Merry Prankster and LSD enthusiast. He was also the one who designed the legendary skull/lightning bolt logo.


Fan Reportedly Gave The Dead A Cake Baked With 800 Hits Of Acid

It was when the Dead were at the San Francisco’s Fillmore Theater in the mid-60s, Jerry Garcia was in the backstage waiting, a fan approached him and brought him a birthday cake. Garcia knew that the cake was containing LSD but yet he still allowed himself to taste.

“I’m looking at it, and looking at it, and looking at it. But it looks good! I’ll just take a little of the frosting here. I’ll just take a little snack. So I took this, and then someone comes in and says, “Yeah, we put about 800 hits of acid in that frosting.”

And I go, “D’oh, oh God, oh Jesus Christ, I’m going to be totally wiped out.”


Backup Singer Donna Jean Revealed She Once Woke Up On Stage Under The Piano

She explained the story in the “This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: The Oral History of the Grateful Dead:”

“I was so stoned during one of the Paris shows that I found myself under [husband] Keith’s piano. And I remember thinking, “Wow, this is really fantastic music!” Then, “Oh, my gosh, I sing with this band!” I don’t know how in the world I pressed through.


Stoned With Jefferson Airplane And The Played Softball Together

Ned Lagin, Dead’s keyboardist and friend revealed the story in the book, This Is All a Dream We Dreamed:

“A fly ball would come towards Jerry, and he would run around in a circle with his hands up in the air like he was praying to God, and the ball would land – plop – right on the ground next to him. He never got close to it.


Police Tried To Arrest Them In 1967

The Dead were famous in the district of San Francisco, Haight-Ashbury and local authorities were itching to arrest them. And they tried in 1967, when the SFPD did a full-scale raid to their pad. The incident was a San Francisco Chronicle headline: “Rock Band Busted.” They described the raid:

“The raid – on The Dead’s way-out, 13-room pad at 710 Ashbury Street – also led to the arrest of the group’s equipment manager, two business managers, and six girls, variously described as “friends,” “visitors,” and “just girls…”


Rumor: They Got High in Al Gore’s House With Woody Harrelson

It was in the early 90’s when the Dead visited the politician’s house because Tipper was a huge fan. However, they had to attend for an event so the Dead were stuck with with actor Woody Harrelson and got high in the Gores’ basement with cannabis.

Al and Tipper [Gore’s wife, a big Dead fan] were upstairs taking a shower while [the band and entourage] were down there hanging out in their house. Woody Harrelson had come with us, and he and Jerry had gone into the powder room and enjoyed a puff or two. There’s a Secret Service guy standing outside the door. They open the door and it’s like a Cheech and Chong movie!


The Dead Allegedly Drugged The Crew On ‘Playboy After Dark’

Drummer Bill Kreutzmann remembered the incident when they performed on Hugh Hefner’s late-night CBS show, Playboy After Dark, in 1969. Arriving on set, none of the microphones was working, the cameras were out of focus and the entire crew was acting weird. It turns out, Owsley Stanley allegedly dosed the coffee pot with some hits of acid while the group was doing their soundcheck.


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John Belushi Cartwheeled On Stage With The Grateful Dead

Belushi asked the group to come out and perform with them but he was denied by the drummer Bill Kreutzmann but that didn’t stop him.

According to Kreutzmann’s book Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreaming, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead, Belushi performed a perfect “comedic ambush:”

[Belushi] had on a [sports] coat with small American flags stuffed into both of his breast pockets, and he landed his last cartwheel just in time to grab a microphone and join in on the chorus. The audience and everyone in the band – except for Phil – ate it up. It couldn’t have been rehearsed better. Belushi had impeccable comedic timing, musicality, balls, the works. And apparently, he didn’t take no for an answer.


The Deadheads Crashed The Fence During A Show At Deer Creek 1995

3000 deadheads arrived at the show without tickets and tore down the fences. They stormed the crowd with pieces of wood hitting anyone who tried to stop them. It became one of the most infamous riots during a rock concert.

The group later released an open letter to fans titled “This Darkness Got To Give” leaving them with a warning on the last part:

A few more scenes like Sunday night, and we’ll quite simply be unable to play. The spirit of the Grateful Dead is at stake, and we’ll do what we have to do to protect it. And when you hear somebody say, “F*ck you, we’ll do what we want,” remember something: That applies to us, too.