Why the Grateful Dead Matter

Michael Benson

In Why the Grateful Dead Matter, veteran writer and lifelong Deadhead Michael Benson argues that the Grateful Dead are not simply a successful rock-and-roll band but a phenomenon central to American culture. He defends the proposition that the Grateful Dead are, in fact, a musical movement as transformative as any -ism in the artistic history of this century and the last. And a lot more fun than most. From the street festivals of Haight-Ashbury to the cross-country acid tests with the Merry Pranksters, and from the sound-and-light show at the Great Pyramid at Giza to the ecstatic outpouring of joy at Soldier Field in the summer of ’15, the Grateful Dead have been at the center of American life, music, and karmic flow for fifty years. In Why the Grateful Dead Matter, Michael Benson brings it all back to life and makes a compelling case for the band’s lasting cultural importance.

Paper: $17.95 | E-book: $16.95
ISBN-13: 9781611688511
Pages: 192 | Size: 5.5 in. x 8 in.
Date Published: February 9, 2016


  • The most provocative parts of the book are when Benson moves away from writing about the Dead qua Dead and tells us about his and others’ experiences of the band. Chapter 31 in particular, which narrates a trip to a Jerry Garcia Band concert, is full of fascinating details and perspective related to what makes rock shows exciting.

    Library Journal
  • Anyone who acknowledges the inherent validity of someone else’s spiritual experience-and becoming a Deadhead was nothing if not a spiritual transformation-will find a fascinating wealth of information in Michael Benson’s glorious manifesto. He gets what being a Deadhead was about, and he can write it, while also being historically perceptive. Besides, the book is fun!

    Dennis McNally
    Grateful Dead publicist, author of A Long Strange Trip and On Highway 61
  • With Why the Grateful Dead Matter Michael Benson has conjured an alternate nation-and a book for those who take their (electric) Kool-Aid by the pitcher.

    Fred Goodman
    author of Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock ’n’ Roll

About the Author

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