Attics of Their Lives


Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead by Joshua Green
The Atlantic, March 2010

Fans of the Grateful Dead are big believers in serendipity. So a certain knowing approval greeted the news last year that the band would be donating its copious archivefour decades’ worth of commercial recordings and videotapes, press clippings, stage sets, business records, and a mountain of correspondence encompassing everything from elaborately decorated fan letters to a thank-you note for a fund-raising performance handwritten on White House stationery by President Barack Obamato the University of California at Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz was understood to be a fitting home not only because it exemplifies the spirit of the counterculture as much as, and perhaps even more than, Berkeley and Stanford, which also bid for the archive, but because the school’s faculty includes an ethnomusicologist and composer named Fredric Lieberman, who is prominent among a curious breed in the academy: scholars who teach and study the Grateful Dead.

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

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