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Author: Subject: Grateful Dead/ABB question

Peach Head





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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 03:48 PM
Ok guys, I'm not trying to start a pissing match between peach-heads & deadheads but I have a question. I've been listening to the ABB for about 15 years now. Now that I seen Bob Weir this summer I've started listening to the Grateful Dead stuff & think it's pretty cool. My question is, how the hell did they get so huge & the ABB didn't? Was it the death of Duane & the breakups that kept them down or is it because they don't merchandise the live stuff as much as the Dead do or what? Both bands seem to be "jam" based & in my opinion the ABB is more my taste musically because I don't care for the slower psychadelic jams that I've heard so far (I have alot more to hear, I know). Sorry, I know this is rambling but I guess I can't figure it out.
 
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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 03:58 PM
Jerry Garcia imo is the reason,musically, that they were special to me...can't speak for others,but the GD & the ABB were part of one "camp" of people when i grew up--we all liked them both--but Jerry is what got us to stick with the GD & Lesh's bass playing helped a bunch...& as Dylan said,popular isn't the same as good--the ABB were & are great despite,like the GD having some bad "moments"--once Jerry passed there was no dead--the ABB have been more like the Duke Ellington Orchestra,bringing in different musicians over the years--that,i guess was the only choice after losing 2 huge personalities & 2 of the greatest musicians ever in Duane & Berry.......

i think i just out rambled you

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 04:01 PM
quote:
My question is, how the hell did they get so huge & the ABB didn't?


That.... is a damned good question.

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 04:16 PM
quote:
Jerry Garcia imo is the reason,musically, that they were special to me...can't speak for others,but the GD & the ABB were part of one "camp" of people when i grew up--we all liked them both--but Jerry is what got us to stick with the GD & Lesh's bass playing helped a bunch...& as Dylan said,popular isn't the same as good--the ABB were & are great despite,like the GD having some bad "moments"--once Jerry passed there was no dead--the ABB have been more like the Duke Ellington Orchestra,bringing in different musicians over the years--that,i guess was the only choice after losing 2 huge personalities & 2 of the greatest musicians ever in Duane & Berry.......


I agree.

Jerry's playing style was unique! I imagine that it would take more than 5-6 guitarists to even TRY to replace him!

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 04:24 PM
Good question!

Origins: The dead started as the house band for Ken Kesey and the Acid tests and with Thomas Wolfes book, the Pranksters, Kesey, Hell's Angels, etc., they were more talked about and written about.

Leniency: The dead allowed and even encouraged people to tape their shows. Garcia said that "once he's done with the music, anyone can have it". The dead had a parking lot scene whereby people sold goods and followed them from place to place able to make money by selling in the parking lot.

Longevity: Garcia lived a lot longer than Duane, and let's face it, both were the "leaders"

Of course, this is just my theories...

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 04:24 PM
quote:
My question is, how the hell did they get so huge & the ABB didn't? Was it the death of Duane & the breakups that kept them down or is it because they don't merchandise the live stuff as much as the Dead do or what?
I'd say Duane's death was a loss they never overcame -- as always, IMHO. While later incarnations were good to amazing, for me they've never recaptured the fire that Duane provided.

The breakups and high-profile scandals also did a lot of damage, but they're ancient history. Overall, Duane's death is the single biggest factor.

Sigh.

Billastro

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 04:30 PM
I don't think that the Dead got so much bigger than the ABB. They did have more name brand recognition though. The Dead have been more involved with marketing and efforts to keep their fans informed, remember "who are you, where are you, what are you" from one of their early album covers, encourgaing fans to write in to get on mailing lists? Their organization was pretty creative in that regard. But so much bigger than the ABB? Maybe a little bigger. There was a time in the 70's that the ABB was considered the biggest.
 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 04:54 PM
Actually the Brothers peak popularity was 73-75 after Duane's passing. They were the biggest thing going during that time frame. The GD continued to tour constantly and accumulate a following throughout the 70's and 80's and where as the Brothers broke up several times and lost the continuity with their fans.

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 05:03 PM
Good points, both bands lost their leaders. The ABB very early on and then the Dead lost Jerry - that was the end of that band. But when both bands were at full power in the early 70's it would be hard to say who was the biggest or best. It waxed and waned from there depending on personal issues, lineups, etc. Since the bands, and band members in the Dead's case, have maintined relatively new followers, that means to me that they are a lot more than nostalgia bands for us old farts. All I can say is enjoy 'em while we still got 'em.
 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 05:48 PM
Thanks for all the cool responses. Being "only" 41 I sure wish I lived thru the late 60's early 70's era of music instead of the 80's hair bands! My wife always jokes with me saying I don't like a band until at least one member is dead.
 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 06:22 PM
Having been a lifelong fan of both bands, here's my two cents. The GD toured every year like clock work. I attended GD shows starting in 1981. Any one from my era can tell you that seeing the Brothers was not an every year thing. This is, of course, a damn shame. They just weren't as accessible and definitely didn't put out any where near what the Dead were putting out on vinyl . Same goes for the boots that were always available. I guess the younger generation doesn' t appreciate the rebirth that the Brothers have had in the last 15-18 years.
 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 07:06 PM
If Duane had lived they'd have been th biggest thing of the 70s. The Dead didn't really catch on till the 80s. Duane and Jerry had personalitys that people admired, for good reason.

[Edited on 9/24/2008 by lespaul58]

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 08:40 PM
My two cents...the Dead made incredible music, toured frequently and were fortunate enough to pair it with a lifestyle/movement that sustained a following.

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 08:58 PM
In a nutshell, the ABB started out a little later ( Back then musically 3 years was an eternity), the death of Duane, the Dead supported a scene/lifestyle, the Dead also have a much bigger song base diversified set lists with the help of Robert Hunter.Back then the Dead could play say 2Dot,Montana 365 nights a year and sell out every nite. And you can't forget Jerry.

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 09:38 PM
I think the ABB were much bigger in the mid 70's than the Dead ever hoped to be.... but the Dead have made more of a "cultural" long-term impact because of their longevity in my opinion.

 

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  posted on 9/23/2008 at 10:10 PM
My thoughts/Apples and Oranges don't you think? Much like the Stones and Beatles comparisons over the years.

However I believe the GD managed their career and product much better than the ABB long before the internet and created a cult like following through their accessibility and consistency of being active. The Dead had some impressive touring revenues for a long time. The ABB had bigger recording sales for a short time and I doubt Watkins Glen would have been the draw it was without them on the ticket.

Both bands deserve a lot of credit for overcoming many obstacles while they do share the same audience to some degree- but in my case I am more of a dead fan of the 70 -75 period but it was always the ABB first and do not really listen to them much today

Both bands are big in their own way.




[Edited on 9/24/2008 by Bingylandmusic]

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 07:02 AM
I think the key to GD's 'success' financially was the very heavy, non-stop touring which included East and West Coasts and Europe. The band was renowned for its long, live shows with varied setlists nightly. I think the artistic success came through Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia writing a wide selection of varied songs as did Weir and Barlow. I think the band was fortunate to keep the core members for so long (with the exception of keyboard players!). Phil Lesh brought his classically trained background to the band. The Dead were very innovative with their own ticketing system and permitting the taping of shows.

I think the Allman Brothers have been growing more successful each year building gradually on their solid musical roots. I agree probably the most difficult thing to overcome was the early loss of Duane and Berry. But I recall seeing them in the early 80's doing great shows with quite small crowds compared to today - its wonderful to be able to see them still performing and gathering more fans, particularly the next generation. Long may this band run!

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 07:10 AM
quote:
I think the key to GD's 'success' financially was the very heavy, non-stop touring which included East and West Coasts and Europe. The band was renowned for its long, live shows with varied setlists nightly. I think the artistic success came through Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia writing a wide selection of varied songs as did Weir and Barlow. I think the band was fortunate to keep the core members for so long (with the exception of keyboard players!). Phil Lesh brought his classically trained background to the band. The Dead were very innovative with their own ticketing system and permitting the taping of shows.

I think the Allman Brothers have been growing more successful each year building gradually on their solid musical roots. I agree probably the most difficult thing to overcome was the early loss of Duane and Berry. But I recall seeing them in the early 80's doing great shows with quite small crowds compared to today - its wonderful to be able to see them still performing and gathering more fans, particularly the next generation. Long may this band run!


I'd have to agree with this the most.

But nowadays, I think the ABB fanbase may be shrinking.
The smaller tour runs, co-bills, the business, etc.

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 09:13 AM
quote:
However I believe the GD managed their career and product much better than the ABB long before the internet and created a cult like following through their accessibility and consistency of being active. The Dead had some impressive touring revenues for a long time.


Completely agree with the above statement, as the Dead "wrote the book" on how to be a successful touring band without having to depend on radio airplay and/or huge record sales. The Dead was so successful in what they did, that one of the major business/financial magazine (I'm thinking it might have been Fortune Magazine) back in the late 80s, had a big article on the Dead as a business entity. Many artists since then have studied how the Dead ran their business and ran their tours, and have also enjoyed similar success. I guess the two biggest artists, that have used the "Dead approach to business" and have been successful in doing so are........Dave Matthews Band and Jimmy Buffett.

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 09:18 AM
Interesting thread and some really good and valid points points brought up by many of you. The Dead and The ABB have ALWAYS been my two favorite bands and the two bands I have seen the most by far - combined I have probably seen The Dead/ABB over 130 times I guess. As a few others have pointed out, in the 1970's both bands shared many of the fans. There was not this big divide with two different camps that exists today....too bad really.

Obviously losing Duane was probably the single biggest reason The ABB lost it's staying power after a while. They did however, in spite of Duane's passing, reach their biggest commercial popularity shortly after his death probably because "Brothers and Sisters" was a very good album in a time when good rock music was popular. There was quite a bit of radio airplay for that album...as well as EAP too. Remember how often "Ramblin Man", "Jessica" and even "Wasted Words" used to be on the radio?...I do. Growing up in the New York area all those tunes were getting regular airplay on WNEW 102.7 FM. At that time The ABB was a very big draw around the country...

...meanwhile though, The Dead were going about their business building a huge fanbase by word of mouth from their live shows and also a big tape trading community. All this time The Dead were recording their shows via soundboard by their live sound Wizard Dan Healey. This would become VERY important to the community even two decades later. Audience tapers also started to become more abundant and their tapes were openly traded adding to the Dead buzz. Jerry Garcia was also becoming bigger than life, a guitar icon, a cultural guru and simply someone Dead fans could latch onto in a big way. They also changed their setlists night to night which gave the fans different listening experiences on a nightly basis. The shows were almost medicinal in nature, you just had to go back time and time again. The ABB never really had a fanbase of that "caravan" type mentality, where legions of fans traveled from show to show. The Dead were extremely unique in that concept...


Moving on....By the mid to late 1970's The ABB was in a bit of turmoil which led to the band breaking up for a while...So they lost whatever steam they built in the previous 3 or 4 years. When they returned a couple years later it just wasn't the same, not even close. The record comapnies tried to mold them and sell them to what they thought would work, but that experiement as we know failed pretty miserably. The ABB was never meant to be "poppy" or trendy in any way, shape or form. They were meant to jam, improvise and play long shows with high intensity. The ABB of the early 1980's gave us very little of that.

The Dead meanwhile reached incredible popularity in the 1980's and continued to tour regularly - as did I. They were a perfect foil for the Disco-age and Techno-crap that was so popular in that time period. Somehow The Dead manged to grow in a time when their music really didn't fit. They didn't need to adapt to the times - they were dragging the times they created right along with them. That in itself was a pretty amazing feat. The Dead were also incredible marketers of their music and had a very successful business model. They ran a very tight ship. The ABB unfortunately sort of became an after-thought until 1989 when they decided if they were going to make it work, they needed to do things their way, with their values and their roots. Adding a great player and natural born leader like Warren Haynes turned out to be a a big reason why The ABB is where they are today. I would say that ended up being a good move - here they are almost two decades later still going strong. Maybe The ABB isn't nearly as popular as they once were, but IMO the live music on stage is as good and vibrant and creative as its ever been. Look at it this way - Do we really need to see our favorite band with 50,000 people there, with many that don't even know the songs or who the players are? I don't think so. I kind of like our warm and fuzzy fans in our little corner of the music world...LOL! Shhhhhhh, don't tell anyone! :-)






[Edited on 9/24/2008 by EddieP]

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 09:45 AM
quote:
I think the ABB were much bigger in the mid 70's than the Dead ever hoped to be.... but the Dead have made more of a "cultural" long-term impact because of their longevity in my opinion.


I think this hits the nail on the head in the most concise way. The ABB we WAY bigger in the mid 70's than anyone who wasn't there can probably imagine. The Dead weren't. The Dead's following grew over a 30 year period. The ABB broke up at least twice and had some serious managerial and financial troubles.

That is why the ABB of the 90's is so important to their history and what it's done for their place in rock history. If I remember correctly the ABB was among the top-grossing summer concert acts throughout the 90's.

It seems that sometime (probably in the near future) there will be generations of people who don't understand the extent of the Grateful Dead's scene. They will have heard about it, but never even had a chance to be an outsider trying to leave town and stuck in traffic just because Grateful Dead was in town, things like that...

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 11:06 AM
Both bands reached their nadir in the late seventies but while the Dead kept plugging the ABB broke-up. When they did reform a few years later they were a pale shadow of their former selves while the Dead, with mostly original members, kept plugging. The Dead were out of business for a few years in the mid '80s and the ABB were practically invisible while making the (arguably) poorest albums of their career. The Dead rebounded from Garcia's coma scare in the late '80s in time to be greeted by a generation of now well-heeled fans who grew up on them. The ABB were still considered a tired old biker band.

It wasn't til Warren joined ABB (from Dickey's band as I recall) that the 'Brothers got a second wind and started to tour consistently and then come up with the masterful "Where It All Begins."

I still remember seeing the ABB circa 1994, for the first time in over 20 years in that traveling hippie fest of which I've forggtten the name (it included Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveler and some others) and marveling at how well the ABB had sort of repackaged their image for the new generation of hippie kids.

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 11:09 AM
The H.O.R.D.E. fest

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 11:11 AM
quote:
The H.O.R.D.E. fest



Thank you.

 

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  posted on 9/24/2008 at 11:34 AM
quote:
Both bands reached their nadir in the late seventies but while the Dead kept plugging the ABB broke-up. When they did reform a few years later they were a pale shadow of their former selves while the Dead, with mostly original members, kept plugging. The Dead were out of business for a few years in the mid '80s and the ABB were practically invisible while making the (arguably) poorest albums of their career. The Dead rebounded from Garcia's coma scare in the late '80s in time to be greeted by a generation of now well-heeled fans who grew up on them. The ABB were still considered a tired old biker band.



Part of your statement is not really accurate. Garcia's illness was at the end of the summer tour in 1986. I was at the show at RFK stadium where afterward he collapsed and went into a diabetic coma you mentioned. However, Only one tour was cancelled as a result of this which was the Fall tour of 1986. The Dead rebounded big time and came back very strong just four months later and played a 3 show run at The Oakland Coliseum...I flew out to Oakland for those shows and they there excellent and Jerry was again feeling it! Jerry got himself into pretty good health from 1987 to 1990 and they captured yet another resurgence of very strong live performances. Some of my favorite shows I attended were during this time. The late 1980's was a very good time for The Dead. They were really flying until the untimely death of Brent Mydland in the summer of 1990...I think Brents death hit them extremely hard.

 

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