The Grateful Dead Movie

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The Grateful Dead Movie
The Grateful Dead Movie DVD cover
Directed by Jerry Garcia
Leon Gast
Produced by Edward Washington
Ron Rakow
Starring Jerry Garcia
Bob Weir
Phil Lesh
Bill Kreutzmann
Donna Godchaux
Keith Godchaux
Mickey Hart
Cinematography Stephen Lighthill
David Myers
Robert Primes
Edited by Susan R. Crutcher
Lisa Fruchtman
Jerry Garcia
John Nutt
Release date
  • June 1, 1977 (1977-06-01)
Running time
132 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $600,000

The Grateful Dead Movie, released in 1977 and directed by Jerry Garcia, is a film that captures live performances from the Grateful Dead's October 1974 five-night stand at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. This end-of-tour run marked the beginning of an extended hiatus for the band, with no shows planned for 1975. The movie also faithfully portrays the burgeoning Deadhead scene. The film features the "Wall of Sound" concert sound system that the Dead used for all of 1974.

Documenting the Grateful Dead experience[edit]

"There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert" was a saying popular among Deadheads, as the loyal fans of the band are known. During their performances, the Dead valued musical improvisation, jamming extensively, and they changed their set lists nightly. As a result, their music was best appreciated at live concerts. But beyond that, Dead shows generally had a positive, happy atmosphere, as the band and the audience interacted with each other to create a special environment of musical celebration. Capturing this phenomenon on film is the admittedly paradoxical goal of The Grateful Dead Movie.

To document the Grateful Dead experience, the film showcases the fans much more than is usual in a concert movie. Sometimes they are shown enjoying the show, and in other scenes they discuss the music and the band, and what it is like to be a Deadhead. The film also includes interviews with members of the Dead, and vintage footage from the early days of the band showing some of their colorful history. Also featured, especially at the beginning of the movie, are animated scenes of icons from Grateful Dead art such as the Uncle Sam skeleton. This psychedelic inspired animation was created by Gary Gutierrez,[1] using some techniques that he developed specifically for this project. All these elements combine to make The Grateful Dead Movie much more than just a concert film.


The lineup of the Grateful Dead at the time of The Grateful Dead Movie was: Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, Phil Lesh on bass, Bill Kreutzmann on drums, Keith Godchaux on keyboards, and Donna Godchaux on vocals.

At the beginning of the second set of the last show that was filmed for the movie, Mickey Hart joined the band on stage as a second drummer. Hart had previously been a member of the Dead from September 1967 to February 1971. No one knew it at the time, but this appearance on October 20, 1974, marked Hart's permanent return to the band.

At various times during these shows, the band was joined by keyboardist Ned Lagin. However, due to amplification problems, he is almost inaudible in the sound mix. Lagin can only be briefly seen in silhouette during "Morning Dew" and "Johnny B. Goode", fulfilling a request he made to Jerry Garcia after estranging himself from the Grateful Dead in 1975.

VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and CD[edit]

In 1981, The Grateful Dead Movie was released on VHS video tape. While welcomed by fans, this recording was made from a video backup copy of the movie, and the sound and visual quality were not quite up to the usual high standards of the Grateful Dead.

On November 9, 2004, The Grateful Dead Movie was released as a two disc DVD. The first disc is the movie itself. This version of the movie was carefully restored from the film negative, and is letterboxed to preserve the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It can be played with any of three different soundtracks—the original multi-channel theatrical mix, a new 5.1 multi-channel mix created for the DVD, or a new stereo mix. The second disc contains additional concert footage from the October 1974 Winterland shows, and several documentaries about the making of the movie and the DVD, including then-recent interviews with some former Grateful Dead members. It was certified Double Platinum by the RIAA on February 21, 2005 under the category of longform video, selling 200,000 units.[2]

On March 15, 2005, the musical performances in the movie, the extra songs on the DVD, and other songs recorded during the same set of concerts were released as a five disc audio CD. Even though it contains much more musical material than the movie, it is called The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack.

On November 1, 2011, Shout! Factory released The Grateful Dead Movie on Blu-ray restored from the original negatives with newly remastered lossless audio. Extras include a commentary on the Blu-ray disc and a second disc in DVD format including 95 minutes of extra songs, and featurettes on the making of the movie. The release is packaged in a slipcase and include a color booklet of liner notes. [3]

Special screening[edit]

The Grateful Dead Movie was shown in a one-night-only re-release screening event in approximately 540 theaters throughout the U.S. on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, presented by NCM Fathom Events and broadcast to the theaters via Dish Network. This was the first annual Grateful Dead Meet-Up at the Movies. The event started at 7:30 p.m. (local time) and began with a pre-show lasting about 30 minutes consisting of dozens of still photos of the band with "Playing in the Band" background music. The event also featured additional footage not included in the original 1977 release, including interviews with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir filmed during production of the original movie.[4] Due to popular demand following the success of the April 20 screening, a second "Grateful Dead Movie Event Encore" screening was announced on April 28, 2011 and occurred on May 5, 2011 at 7:30 p.m. (local time).[5]

Concert song list[edit]

The concert footage shot on October 16–20, 1974 and included in The Grateful Dead Movie contains full or partial performances of the following songs:

An additional bonus disc released on DVD in 2004 includes the following full performances:

Notes on the recording dates:

  • "U.S. Blues" uses footage from October 18 for the closeups and October 19 for the shots of the entire band. (Phil Lesh's shirt changes color from white to rust-colored.) The audio is from October 18, according to the DVD commentary.
  • "Sugar Magnolia" is from October 17, but the "Sunshine Daydream" coda it is from October 19. (Bob Weir's shirt changes from blue to white.)



External links[edit]