The Grateful Dead Movie, released in 1977 and directed by Jerry Garcia, is a film that captures 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.

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Documenting the Grateful Dead experienceEdit

"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.

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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's 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 and vocals, 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 were joined by keyboardist Ned Lagin. However, due to various issues, he is almost inaudible in the sound mix. Lagin can only be briefly seen in sihlouette during "Morning Dew" and "Johnny B. Goode", fulfilling a request he made to Jerry Garcia after becoming estranged from the Grateful Dead in 1975.
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VHS, DVD and CDEdit

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. 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 and released at the same time as the DVD on Grateful Dead Records. On March 15, 2005, it was rereleased by Rhino/Warner Bros. Records. Even though it contains much more musical material than the movie, it is called The Grateful Dead Movie Soundtrack.

Special screeningEdit

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. The event started at 7:30pm (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 an interview with Jerry Garcia filmed during production of the original movie. Due to popular demand relating to the success of the April 20 screening, a second "Grateful Dead Movie Event Encore" screening was announced on April 28, 2011 and is scheduled for May 5, 2011 @ 7:30pm (local time).

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

Editing by Susan R. Crutcher
Release date(s) June 1, 1977
Running time 132 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $600,000