If you’ve seen a photograph of the Grateful Dead during the past nearly four decades chances are it was captured by photographer, Jay Blakesberg. In September of 1978, at age 16, Blakesberg attended his first Grateful Dead concert with his father’s camera in hand. 38 years later Blakesberg has become the quintessential visual anthropologist of the photographic legacy of the Grateful Dead.
Nearly one year ago, on January 16, 2015, Jerry Garcia’s daughter Trixie Garcia announced the core four members of the Grateful Dead would reunite and be joined by Trey Anastasio, Jeff Chimenti and Bruce Hornsby for what would become known as “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 3rd, 4th, and 5th, 2015. Deadheads flooded post offices around the world mailing in more than 60,000 envelopes requesting a total of more than 360,000 tickets in the first week using the Grateful Dead’s nostalgic GDSTOO mail order ticketing system. After the dust settled only 30,000 tickets were fulfilled out of total of over 700,000 requests. In February, when tickets went on sale on Ticketmaster.com, over 500,000 people attempted to purchase tickets setting a new Ticketmaster record for demand for any concert in history. Due to this unprecedented high demand for the concerts, promoter Peter Shapiro announced two more concerts in Santa Clara, California on June 27 and 28, 2015. The 5 concerts were simulcast on screens at venues and movie theaters throughout the world in addition to being offered on various television pay-per-view outlets. The five-night live broadcast of “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Year of Grateful Dead” became officially the largest syndication of a live music event in history with more than 400,000 subscriptions. In all, the Levi Stadium shows in Santa Clara, California grossed $21.5 million from attendance of 151,650, and the Soldier Field shows July 3-5 grossed a $30.7 million from a Soldier Field record attendance of 210,283 totaling more than $52.2 million.
I had the honor of being asked by Jay Blakesberg to join his elite team which featured Chad Smith and John Margaretten to capture the last concerts at Soldier Field in Chicago. The resulting photos were released in Blakesberg’s 11th fine art hardcover coffee table book titled, “Fare Thee Well Celebrating 50 Years with the Grateful Dead”. The book follows the final reunion of the “core four” surviving members of the Grateful Dead – Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir – along with Trey Anastasio from Phish, Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Bruce Hornsby on piano, as they say goodbye with 5 magical nights of music. The historical book presents epic and exclusive live and backstage images and features a foreword by basketball legend and deadhead Bill Walton with an afterword by David Lemieux, the official archivist for the Grateful Dead. The book also features photos by Michael Weintrob, Dave Vann, Patrick Jordan, Graham Washatka and Joshua Timmermans.
You may purchase the book directly from RockOutBooks.com
See more incredible photos I captured from these historic concerts at www.jasonkaczorowski.com