Sweet Chaos : The Grateful Dead's American Adventure

Author: Carol Brightman

Publication date: 1999

Clarkson Potter Publishers

A 'sociological history' of the Dead with sections about Brightman's life during the same years. Carol Brightman is the sister of Candace Brightman the long-time Grateful Dead lighting designer.

Publisher information:

"How the Dead, alone among the avatars of the rebellious '60s, survived to speak to successive generations is the subject of this intensely provocative and personal narrative. Social critic and biographer Carol Brightman, who was active in the political struggles of the era, presents a Whitmanesque tableau of America's colliding countercultures. Here the Dead - with their original fancy for the Beats and fondness for folk, bluegrass, and blues; their immersion in psychedelics; and their longing for a separate reality - appear alongside those they shunned: the radicals across the Bay in Berkeley. The Free Speech Movement, antiwar rallies, and trips to Vietnam and Cuba are re-created alongside Ken Kesey's Acid Tests, San Francisco be-ins, LSD trips, large and small, and rock festivals across the country. And gradually we see that while the zenith of the Grateful Dead experience was the moment of abandon to music, drugs, and dance, it was as a safe haven from the turmoil beyond the gates that the music and the culture won their place in the hearts of fans. ... Meanwhile, a new portrait of the nonleader leader emerges, as those closest to Jerry Garcia, particularly his second wife, Mountain Girl, speak of his passions and his demons. We see Garcia as a musical existentialist enamored of tradition, a man possessed of a strange, all-encompassing influence who held to a vision of the Grateful Dead's destiny even as he recoiled from the juggernaut it became."
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