Dead Letters: The Very Best Grateful Dead Fan Mail
" By Paul Grushkin "
foreword by Bill Walton

Bob Putignano says that the new book "Dead Letters: The Very Best Grateful Dead Fan Mail" takes and entirely different approach to commemorating a band and that it is a gorgeous and interesting read." Chip Eagle for & Blues Revue Magazine

BluesWax Rating: 7

It' In The Mail

It's endless, that being the amount of Grateful Dead merchandise that appears in just about every corner of the world. Dick's Picks, Road Trips, a new series titled Dave's Picks (limited to just 12,000 units), videos, a Dead game based on the theme of Monopoly called "Deadopoly," and now this book. Dead Letters is a collection of about four hundred USPS letters that were mailed to the Grateful Dead's business office. The story goes that there were hundreds of thousands such pieces of fan mail of which some fifteen thousand are now stored at the Grateful Dead archive at the University of California in Santa Cruz. This is a collective story of the love affair between this legendary roots band and their fans. Author Paul Grushkin recently told me that he was on a mission to get "inside" of the Dead world back in the 1980s and has not only worked for concert promoter Bill Graham, he's also co-authored a similar thematic The Official Book of the Dead Heads. Grushkin eloquently colors each chapter with fact-filled trivia, which adds allure to this interesting book, which is filled with appealing drawings and sketches from fans that were trying to gain the attention of the Dead's ticket office in hopes of catching the decision makers' eyes with colorful pictorials and catchy phrases. As is typical of other Voyageur Press books, this collection is drop dead gorgeous. The outer cover is eye-catching, thick and lush, and there's even a small windowpane that opens showing off a skeleton; it's very unique. Additionally the book is entirely printed on very high-quality paper stock, and while this may not be for everyone's taste, there's no doubt that this book is of superior quality, for it's high-quality construction, top-shelf paper stock, and for the content collected that is personally enhanced by Grushkin.

For me, the Dead spiraled downward decades prior from when Jerry Garcia left us over fifteen years ago, but no one can doubt the consistent and current popularity of the band. Rhino records (via continues on its mission to offer four previously unreleased concert multi-disc CDs per year. Plus, last fall they released a limited-edition seventy-three-disc box set of each and every performance (twenty-plus shows) from their tour of Europe in 1972, a wish Phil Lesh previously told me was a project he wanted to see completed before he went horizontal. Rhino sold out all 7,200 copies (not cheap) in several days! So the Dead buzz (no pun intended) continues, as evidenced by this insightful book. This book is an entirely different approach at commemorating a band, that being (for the most part) from the Dead's adoring fans, making this more of a behind-the-scenes publication, as opposed to an offering by an authors individual viewpoint. Interesting...

Bob Putignano: