FARE THEE WELL: Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead is a fine art, hardcover coffee table photography book by famed rock photographer—and bona fide Deadhead—Jay Blakesberg. FARE THEE WELL will be released December 1, 2015 via Rock Out Books and is available for pre-order now at www.rockoutbooks.com and other book retailers.
In late June/early July 2015, the “core four” surviving members of the Grateful Dead—Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart—reunited for five final shows billed as “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead.” Joining the lineup for these monumental shows were Phish frontman Trey Anastasio, former Dead member Bruce Hornsby and RatDog’s Jeff Chimenti. Lifelong Deadhead Jay Blakesberg was tapped as the event’s official photographer. With a talented team, including photographers Chad Smith and John Margaretten, Blakesberg documented all aspects of this historic, culminating moment in the Grateful Dead’s fifty-year career. From stadium soundchecks to Shakedown Street shenanigans, the colorful close to the long strange trip of the “band beyond description” is lovingly preserved in 305 images across the 208-page FARE THEE WELL.
Featuring dynamic band, crowd and venue shots from all five Fare Thee Well concerts—June 27 and 28 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA and July 3, 4 and 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago, IL—Blakesberg’s FARE THEE WELL also provides access to intimate backstage moments and the group portrait session that yielded the final images immortalized on giant stadium screens throughout the “Attics of My Life” encore the final night in Chicago. Photographs of enthusiastic throngs of attendees—from old Deadheads to new converts—in various states of joy, anticipation and exhilaration, as well as concert ephemera like tie-dyed roses, homemade signs and backstage passes, serve to complete Blakesberg’s rich visual account of the multi-day event, its history and its legacy.
Former NBA star and devoted Deadhead Bill Walton provides the book’s Foreword, offering a deeply personal account of his experience at the Fare Thee Well shows. To Walton, this final tour—and, by extension, this book—serves as an emotional touchstone, transporting him back to a place of pure happiness. “It was a time and space that I will never forget. I am a proud and loyal Deadhead,” he writes. “This book serves to nurture and activate our finely tuned senses and bring the Fare Thee Well celebration back to life.”
Two essays by Gary Lambert, co-host of SiriusXM’s “Tales from the Golden Road,” add valuable historical perspective from firsthand recollections of Jerry Garcia’s memorial at Golden Gate Park and the immediate aftermath of his passing in 1995, to the planning and realization of the Fare Thee Well tour two decades later. Lambert muses on everything from the fervor of the Deadheads to the unlikely business model that catapulted the band into the rock and roll stratosphere. “Joyously undermining all the conventional wisdom of the music business, the band somehow survived and prospered,” Lambert writes. “And, after fifty years, it can’t be denied that the Dead’s art became a tradition unto itself…”
In the Afterword, Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux marvels at his near miss with the Fare Thee Well experience. Initially uncertain about attending, his desire to reunite with his friends, and the broader Deadhead community, brought him home to Soldier Field. Lemieux extends a poignant invitation to revisit the experience again after another half century. “For those of us who’ll be around in fifty years, let’s reconvene in Chicago for GD100,” he writes. “Even though the band has packed and gone, if you ever have doubts on whether they were here at all, think back to this special weekend and the thirty years they toured (1965-1995), listen to the music play and go see them continue to play live. Yes, they were here, and it WAS a dream we dreamed one afternoon, long ago.”