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Summary

A tell-all biography of the epic in-fighting of the Grateful Dead in the years following band leader Jerry Garcia's death in 1995

The Grateful Dead rose to greatness under the inspired leadership of guitarist Jerry Garcia, but the band very nearly died along with him after his sudden death in 1995. So long defined by Garcia's artistic vision, the surviving "Core Four" were reduced to conflicting agendas, strained relationships, and catastrophic business decisions that would lead the iconic band into utter disarray for the next 20 years. 

Acclaimed music journalist and New York Times best-selling author Joel Selvin was there for much of the turmoil following Garcia's death, and in this book, he offers a never-before-explored insider account of the ebbs and flows that occurred in the decades that followed. Culminating in the landmark tour bearing the same name, Fare Thee Well charts the arduous journey from Garcia's passing all the way up to the uneasy agreement between the Core Four that led to the series of shows celebrating the band's 50th anniversary - finally allowing for a proper, and joyous, sendoff of the group revered by so many. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2018 Joel Selvin (P)2018 Hachette Audio

Critic reviews

"Most [Grateful Dead] books end with the 1995 death of Jerry Garcia. Fare Thee Well...takes the opposite approach...[it] examines every sad twist, turn, and betrayal involved in the Dead's various offshoot groups leading up to their 2015 Fare Thee Well reunion." (Rolling Stone)

"Well-written...[Selvin] has covered the Dead nearly since their inception and did extensive research and interviewing for this book." (Library Journal)

"[Fare Thee Well] engages readers intrigued by the Dead's mystique. For Deadheads, sure, but also rock fans who may wonder where the road led after Jerry died." (Kirkus)

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  • Rick
  • 21-06-18

A worthy, if imperfect, addition to the story

Jeez, I'm left wondering what the author really thinks of the Leshs. Jk! As a fan for the last three and half decades, the majority of my "time" with the Grateful Dead has been during the time frame covered by this book. Having read pretty much every biography, watched every documentary, and spent more time then I should reading rumor and hearsay on the Internet, I appreciate the author's attempt to fill in this part of the story. I'll first admit my bias, in the years since the passing of Jerry Garcia I've pretty much seen every project that the boys have put out there, and for me, Phil and Friends has consistently been the most interesting musically as well as community wise. Reading this book, that comes as no surprise. For a group of guys that are self-admittedly bad business people in a band and industry with a long history of bad business decisions, it seems that at the turn of the millennium, Phil and Jill really made the most effort to understand what the fans wanted and how to deliver that in a way that was rewarding (both artistically and financially) for themselves. Based on what I've read and observed over the years, this book seems to basically get the facts correct (and in several cases, they weren't nearly as nefarious as the Internet rumors might have one believe). Where I personally think the author may have gone a little too far is in attributing individual's motivations behind those facts for people who were not interviewed for the book. Was Phil really looking to "cripple" Dark Star Orchestra (and the "tribute" bands in general) when inviting John Kadlecik to join Furthur? That seems far-fetched. DSO has had many line-up changes over the years, and has done just fine in the years since JK left (in fact, they seem to be doing better than ever today). Not to mention, Furthur spawned Joe Russo's Almost Dead and the ongoing Internet battle over whether JRAD or DSO is the greatest Dead tribute band. Indeed, it seems the projects that all four men have created over the years (but Phil in particular in sheer numbers) have left a long trail of musicians with an even closer connection to the music and an even stronger will to keep it alive. Was Phil's reconsidering of the Doug Irwin guitar issue really so out of left field and such a bad idea? Yes, Irwin made his "millions" auctioning them off, but I've seen Wolf and Tiger played numerous times over the years and Wolf recently was used to raise over $3M for charity. Personally, that seems a much more fitting use of these guitars than just having them hanging in a museum. Perhaps we should trust the Dead Heads (even the really rich ones). These are just a couple examples where I believe the author missed the mark. A couple others, sure Phish has largely avoided playing Dead tunes, but Trey hardly was a newbee to the repertoire when asked to play in 2015 (the author seems to forget Phil and Phriends in 1999; Phil, Trey, and Medeski in 2006, and numerous other sit-ins). Of course, that in no way minimizes the effort Trey put in for those shows. WIth Dead and Co rolling strong, it's hard for me to understand why Weir would have done the Phil and Bobby Duo shows in 2018 if the author's interpretation tells the whole story. In his final dig at the Leshs, the author chooses to take Phil to task for his singing during the Fare Thee Well shows. I'm one of the many who chanted "Let Phil Sing" in the late 80s and early 90s, and as I fan I long ago came to terms with Phil's singing. I have no problem with Phil and Bobby wanting to sing some of their old friend's songs on stage (and let me say, while Weir truly is one of the great rock singers of all time, I don't find him singing Garcia's songs anymore "authentic" then Lesh singing them, in fact since the Weir/Garcia tradeoff was a staple of GD shows, I sometimes find Weir insisting on singing so many of the songs even more out of place). But, as Bobby's shirt said, "Let Trey Sing." I would point out that in many of Lesh's more established lineups, like The Q and the Jackie Greene lineup, Phil did, in fact, take much more of a back seat as a lead singer. The one thing that this (and no) book will ever change is that the Grateful Dead, and it's members, are true American treasures. I'm sorry it hasn't been easier, but what an amazing trip it's been and continues to be. Many thanks to Phil, Bobby, Billy, and Mickey (Pigpen, Keith, Brent, Vince, Bruce, & Donna), as well as the continually expanding group of musicians keeping this music alive, for the joy you have brought to the world. I didn't agree with everything in the book but enjoyed reading it, especially all the happy memories it brought back as I recalled living through these events.

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  • Raymond DaCosta
  • 09-07-18

Bobby v Phil

Great read...it's a wonder they were able to pull it together for Fare the Well! Painted a dark picture of the Lesh family and glorified Bobby. I understand that Phil won't ever play with Dead & Co but it's just not the same dynamic. Phil's pounding bass forced Bobby to be on his game. Well done nevertheless and RIP Jerry!

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  • W. Robinette
  • 06-07-18

Good chronicle of the post Jerry era

Good book and worth the read or in my case the listen. A few facts were wrong like who bought wolf and Tiger, when they started playing built to last in concert and repeatedly saying woman instead of women when mentioning brown eyed women.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-12-18

The music will always be what I am a fan of....

Depressing story of a band I love, for true dead heads I suggest skipping this read and listening to the music instead :)

1 person found this helpful

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  • DJPeebs
  • 25-12-20

A Great Post-Jerry View From Deep Inside The Dead

I ended up listening to the audio version of this in less than two days. It was an absolute joy to be a fly on the wall for such epic moments, all of which lead up to the July 2015 Fare Thee Well shows in Chicago. The detail presented is dazzling, while the writing style provides compellingly vivid insight of how chaos and dysfunctionality ultimately resulted in the beauty that was created on 7/5/2015. Brilliant and emotional on many levels!

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  • Joseph Yudin
  • 06-07-20

A must read for any Deadhead!

A must read for any Deadhead! It brought me back. Filled in a lot of gaps and makes a lot of sense!

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  • Mike Haverty
  • 25-02-20

The feel good book of my life.

Heck yeah! Fare thee well. So much pain and strife in the years following Jerry’s life. But those 4 guys overcame everything for 3 awesome nights at soldier field. What they lost they shall regain! My friend and I will see Dead and Company this summer. The story of the Dead is not over!!!

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  • Christopher Jones
  • 12-08-19

The book that every Deadhead needs to read

The title of this review says it all: if you are Deadhead and want to know what happened to the Dead once Jerry Garcia died then you need to read this book. It all there, warts and all and while the music was paramount in the Grateful Dead this book takes you way behind the scenes of the Dead organization post-Jerry and makes you realize that in the end it all comes down to what it takes to run a business once one of it's key members dies. It's not pretty as you can imagine and you will be fascinated.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-08-19

Not As Described

Not a bad book, but meh. It was a lot of detailed impressions of set lists for shows I've seen. If I wanted a music review, it would have made me happy...but I didn't.

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  • Mark Warren
  • 01-05-19

Great book!

Fantastic book and excellent reading. I really enjoyed this look at the post Jerry GD. The Lesh’s seem really awful but I don’t blame the author for that. Highly recommend this book.