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Dick Latvala (26 July 1943 – 6 August 1999) was an American tape archivist for the Grateful Dead. He started the CD series Dick's Picks, an ongoing series that selects live music from Grateful Dead concerts. The first volume of Dick's Picks was released in 1993. The series was continued after Latvala's death, with later volumes being selected by David Lemieux. As of 2005[update], 36 volumes are available.
While living in Hawaii, Latvala got into tape trading, and after moving to the mainland in the late 1970s, he befriended the Grateful Dead's roadies. This led to odd jobs at the Dead's Front Street office, where his encyclopedic knowledge and excellent taste in tapes led to his 1985 appointment as official Grateful Dead archivist.
Late in the Grateful Dead's performing career, in 1993, Dick's Picks Vol. 1 was released on CD. This was a recording of the group's 12/19/73 show. Since the Grateful Dead had an exceptionally large archive of recorded musical concerts, Dick persuaded the group to release recordings of some of their more historically interesting, and youthful, inspired performances.
Until Dick's Picks, the Grateful Dead typically released live albums that were specially recorded on multitrack source tapes, then professionally mixed. Dick's Picks however, tapped into the vast 2-track audio collection spanning thousands of hours of concerts. Many peak performances were preserved on tapes which sounded quite good, and would become fodder for the new series.
During the early years of Dick's Picks until Latvala's death, 1993–1999, Latvala routinely posted on chat rooms at the band's web site, www.dead.net, and conversed with fans regarding his opinions of Grateful Dead recordings and what should be released next. Latvala was known for his outspoken and sometimes wild opinions about particular Grateful Dead recordings which were in the vault where he served as "vault master."
Dick Latvala died following a heart attack at age 56. After his sudden death, the Grateful Dead continued the Dick's Picks series. In memory of Dick's known wishes, the Grateful Dead released Dick's Picks Vols. 15 and 16, 9-3-77 and 11-8-69, respectively, which were two of Dick's favorite and most-discussed candidates for future release in his series. After that, the series gradually came under the creative direction of David Lemieux, the Grateful Dead's next archivist.
In many Dick's Picks albums, the name "LATVALA" can be seen somewhere in the album artwork, often carefully hidden. This was apparently done to commemorate Latvala after his death.
- Grateful Dead, an Illustrated Trip, pages 307, 459
- http://www.dicklatvala.com/ - Archival material posted by Dick's son, Richie Latvala