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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why The Grateful Dead will out-last all its members

In last week's New Yorker Nick Paumgarten devoted many thousands of words to the legacy of the Grateful Dead. He's particularly interested in the way Dead fans collect soundboard tapes. It's almost twenty years since the band ceased to exist but the tape trade is stronger than ever.

For all their apparent disavowal of anything "straight", the Grateful Dead are the most outstanding example of the triumph of brand in rock music. They're far more impressive in this respect than Rihanna or One Direction or even Pink Floyd could ever hope to be.

The Grateful Dead's name is 80% of the reason for their astounding longevity. Its associated logos and decals are worth another 15%. Only 5% of what they're about is in the music. Nobody listens to the music without having first of all bought into the idea of The Grateful Dead and the idea is all in their name.