By David Gans

My contributions to this year’s WALL OF NEWS will focus on photos and stories from my new book, Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985. Signed copies are available now from

Bob Weir at home and in the studio, November 1981

November 1981, interviewing Bob Weir for Music Exchange, an article titled “Bob Weir’s Double Career.” We talked at his house one day and at the studio two days later, and I took photos in both places. I took some photos of the recording studio and the vault while I was there, and I got some really sweet pictures of Bob with his dog, Otis.

My favorite moment from these interviews was Bob’s reply to my saying, “The Grateful Dead is the closest thing to a religion that I’ve got – and a most forgiving one at that.”

He said, “As soon as we incorporate, I get to be in charge of making the minutes and stuff like that. We’ll get some great hats.”

Jerry bristled at the word “religion,” too, but both of them recognized the spiritual nature of the community that formed around this music – largely because, I think, they recognized that it was a spiritual movement from the start. The hippies wanted to create an alternative way of being in the world. The culture was attempting oto organize itself around shared joy and celebration as opposed to the acquisition and defense of material wealth. As Jerry put it in the press conference that followed their 1967 bust: “What we’re thinking about is a peaceful planet. We’re not thinking about anything else. We’re not thinking about any kind of power. We’re not thinking about any kind of struggles. We’re not thinking about revolution or war or any of that. That’s not what we want. Nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to hurt anybody. We would all like to be able to live an uncluttered life – a simple life, a good life, and think about moving the whole human race ahead a step, or a few steps.”

David Gans is one of the best-known media guys in the Grateful Dead world as well as an exceptional interpreter of GD music; he has performed with Phil Lesh, written songs with Robert Hunter, and played with many of the best-known jam band musicians around. He started as a journalist at BAM, the California Music Magazine, and wrote for many music magazines in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the mid-’80s he helped with the KFOG Deadhead Hour, which became the nationally-syndicated Grateful Dead Hour, still airing from coast to coast. He’s also co-host, with Gary Lambert, of the Sunday-afternoon talk show Tales from the Golden Road on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel. He’s the author (with Blair Jackson) of This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, and Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985, a book of his photos and stories. He will perform at Skull and Roses.