The Grateful Dead’s first official career-spanning documentary, Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story Of The Grateful Dead, will make its DVD and Blu-ray debuts this Friday, November 16th. In addition, a new Deluxe Edition featuring unreleased bonus content will be available exclusively from Dead.net. Both the regular and deluxe versions of Long Strange Trip arrive more than a year after the Grammy-nominated four-hour documentary premiered at Sundance Film Festival, followed by its exclusive release on Amazon Prime.
Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Amir Bar-Lev with Martin Scorsese serving as executive producer, Long Strange Trip brings together never-before-seen performance footage, vintage interviews, and other candid moments unearthed from the Grateful Dead’s vast vaults. The Deluxe Edition boasts previously unreleased footage from the band’s first show overseas, recorded on May 24th, 1970 in England at the Hollywood Festival. Snippets of all the bonus content were used in the film, but this marks the first time they will be released in their entirety.
Today, Live For Live Music is thrilled to premiere a handful of highly entertaining clips from the aforementioned bonus footage captured at the 1970 Hollywood Festival. Recorded in the weeks leading up to the release of Workingman’s Dead, this selection of unseen clips gives viewers an incredible and endearing peek behind the curtain at the early-days Grateful Dead.
The footage begins with Bob Weir speaking to a British reporter about performing in the U.K. for the first time. As a cheeky-looking young Weir explains to the reporter in the clip, “I gotta say, I had no idea what [the British people] would be like. … I’m looking forward to a new audience, an audience that’s never heard us before. You know, it’s a fresh reaction. Maybe something new will happen with us playing the same old stuff.”
When the reporter presses Weir further about his reponse—she clearly knows that “playing the same old stuff” is not the Grateful Dead’s game—he pauses to think about his answer. As he does so, you can hear his bandmates piping in. “Don’t say a word!” crows Mickey Hart from off-camera. “It’s a trick!” As an amused Bobby attempts to answer the question, Mickey steps into the frame and tries to cover his mouth and drag him away, making for a highly amusing scene.
Bobby eventually wrestles himself away from Mickey and back to his interviewer to answer her question. He explains, “Either, for instance, we go on and we know exactly what we’re gonna do ‘cus we’ve got 45 minutes and we gotta do exactly that much material and so we try to take it through as many changes as we can possibly do. Or, if it’s loose like this scene is, we decide on the spot what we’re gonna do.”
Weir also goes into his reasoning for why he enjoyed making Workingman’s Dead (and other studio records) more than making a live album—mainly because it lasted longer. As Weir muses, “It’s just two different kinds of records. And I gotta say that, for making records, studio recording’s more fun because you can sit home and scheme for a while on what you’re gonna do, and then you get into the studio and you get to run amok. And you can do much more than you can do in the context of a live performance.” After taking a moment to think about it, he adds, smiling, “…though a good live performance is a lot of fun, too.” Watch the exclusive premiere of this gem of Grateful Dead lore below:
Backstage With Bob Weir & Mickey Hart At Hollywood Festival 1970 – Long Strange Trip Deluxe Edition
[Video: Grateful Dead]
The bonus content from the Hollywood Festival also takes you to soundcheck, where the band works out the kinks in their stage setup before being introduced to the crowd and diving into their opening song, “Casey Jones”. In a subsequent bonus clip, we get a full-color, side stage look at the Dead’s performance—specifically, the moment when “China Cat Sunflower” transitions into “I Know You Rider”. Check out the exclusive live clips of The Grateful Dead at Hollywood Festival below:
Grateful Dead – Soundcheck + “Casey Jones” At Hollywood Festival 1970 – Long Strange Trip Deluxe Edition
[Video: Grateful Dead]
Grateful Dead – “China Cat Sunflower” > “I Know You Rider” At Hollywood Festival 1970 – Long Strange Trip Deluxe Edition
[Video: Grateful Dead]
Setlist: The Grateful Dead | Hollywood Festival | Newcastle-under-Lyme, England | 5/24/70
Set: Casey Jones, China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider, Hard To Handle, Uncle John’s Band, Cryptical Envelopement -> Drums -> The Other One -> Cryptical Envelopement -> Attics Of My Life, Good Lovin’ -> Drums -> Good Lovin’, Cold Rain & Snow, Dark Star -> Saint Stephen -> Not Fade Away -> Turn On Your Love Light
In addition to the Weir interview and the live rehearsal and performance clips, Long Strange Trip‘s bonus content from 5/24/70 also includes footage of Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart chatting with reporters in a trailer before the gig. The conversation touches on a wide range of topics like composure on drugs and “coke dick” (“The thing I’m talking about is being able to handle the environment that you’re operating in when you’re high, which is, like, a weird place to be, and it takes a while to get into it. And in order to get into it you have to learn what’s most nearly human about all the devices, you know? Something along those lines”); Tom Wolfe and the legacy of Ken Kesey and the Pranksters (“We’re now experiencing one of the outside waves of that very thing”); which English bands they like (“Different ones at different times. I haven’t heard all the English bands”); how they met the Rolling Stones (“We met in an odd way…we met at Altamont…”); whether they know what they’re going to play this afternoon (“No”); and much more. The bonus full bonus footage also shows Garcia giving the British news crew a tour around the festival’s backstage area—and quickly getting bored of the chore (“You also must remember that, at any moment, you can decide to put down your equipment and split”). To see all that and more unreleased Grateful Dead content, you’ll have to grab a copy Long Strange Trip Deluxe Edition when it comes out on Friday.
Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story Of The Grateful Dead will be available on November 16th as a double-DVD ($24.98) and single Blu-ray ($27.98). The Deluxe Edition will be available the same day exclusively from Dead.net on three DVDs ($26.98) and two Blu-rays ($30.98). Production of the Deluxe Edition is limited to 6,500 copies each on DVD and Blu-ray.