With Labor Day 2019 just behind us, famed rock photographer Jay Blakesberg announces the release of his latest photographic endeavor, JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams – a fine art, hardcover photography book of Jerry Garcia, beginning from the middle of his career with the Grateful Dead and covering the last third of his life. It’s of no coincidence, as experiencing the Grateful Dead over Labor Day weekends of past that have played a monumental role in the path of Blakesberg’s life and photography. When the Grateful Dead began their series of four big Labor Day weekend concerts along the east coast in 1977, it was at the legendary September 3rd Englishtown show where Blakesberg’s connection with the Grateful Dead was born. The following Labor Day weekend, September 2, 1978 at Giants Stadium, Blakesberg’s father, an amateur shutterbug himself, loaned his 16-year-old son his Pentax camera, a couple of lenses and a few rolls of film to photograph the Grateful Dead for the very first time. A photograph of Jerry Garcia from this show begins the chronological display of photographs that spans the following decades of Garcia’s life in JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams. Signed copies of JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams are available now for pre-order at www.rockoutbooks.com. Pre-orders start shipping September 23, 2019.
The book’s Foreword is written by Grammy-award winning musician and guitar master John Mayer, who has been touring with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead as Dead & Company’s lead guitarist and vocalist. Providing the unique perspective of re-interpreting the lead guitar slot once held by Jerry Garcia, Mayer explores the magic and distinction of Garcia’s playing and the profound and lasting impact of his music on the world. “I’ve always said that musicians play like they are, and in the case of Garcia, his performances serve as a detailed map of a man, his intentions, his desires, and his impressions of the world around him,“ Mayer writes. “And going by that map, Garcia was a lovely, mighty soul. I never met him and will never understand the loss of those who did, but the vast archive of his music amounts to the makings of a starry night sky that turns listeners into explorers.”
In JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams’ Introduction, journalist, musician, radio host and Grateful Dead historian David Gans dives deep into the character and charisma of the mythical non-frontman, frontman – and Blakesberg’s innate ability to capture Garcia’s magic on film. In the book’s 208 pages, Blakesberg shares 139 photographs of Garcia spanning nearly 20 years––September 2nd, 1978 (at Giants Stadium) through the April 1995 making of the “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” music video. With an essay by Garcia’s daughter Trixie and quotes from the likes of Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, David Crosby, Jim James, Carlos Santana, Trey Anastasio, Robert Hunter, Jackie Greene, Jorma Kaukonen, Country Joe McDonald, David Grisman, the “core four” members of the Grateful Dead––Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart-- and more, Blakesberg leads us on a visual journey of Garcia’s life, both on and off the stage.
In the Afterword, Widespread Panic founding member, author, and producer Dave Schools muses on the man, myth and legend portrayed in the pages of the photographic biography. Schools thoughtfully reflects on Garcia’s ability to “display his own frailty in the service of the song,” and to connect with the audience as participants in the performance. “These are just some of the attributes of a human being who led without leading, who conveyed his own truth better through his music than he was able to do through the spoken word…and who lived the majority of his life onstage being part of a performance troupe that went far beyond the sum of its parts,” he writes. “And luckily for those of us who want and need to remember such experiences we have a vast recorded archive of music, millions of words both scholarly and lay, and in our hands now these magnificently telling photographs by Jay Blakesberg so that we can always queue up the memories of our shared experiences with a rare human being known as Jerry Garcia and his equally rare cohorts.”
The release of JERRY GARCIA: Secret Space of Dreams comes on the heels of Blakesberg’s recent photography books FARE THEE WELL: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead (December 1, 2015) and Eyes of the World – Grateful Dead Photography 1965-1995, (October 23, 2017). FARE THEE WELL is a vibrant visual record of the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary “Fare Thee Well” concerts, gathering iconic images from all five performances, plus two rehearsal days, as well as band portraits, a few archival images, written tributes and setlists from the historic shows. Eyes of the World celebrates The Grateful Dead with photographs spanning their entire career from the likes of Jim Marshall, Annie Leibovitz, Herb Greene, Peter Simon (60 different photographers) and Blakesberg, who has the most photos in the book from any single photographer.
About Jay Blakesberg:
Jay Blakesberg is a San Francisco-based photographer, filmmaker and visual anthropologist whose work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Guitar Player, Relix and many other magazines. He has worked with countless musical artists, including Neil Young, Dave Matthews, Phish, moe., Tom Waits, the Rolling Stones, Carlos Santana and, of course, the Grateful Dead to name just a few. Blakesberg attended his first Dead show in September 1977 as a 15-year-old kid. Thirty-seven years later, he went on to become the official Fare Thee Well photographer for the band’s final five shows. Secret Space of Dreams is his 15th coffee table book of music photography.