LETTER: Grateful for the dead

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The Independent Online
From Mr Tom Hopkinson

Sir: So Jerry's gone ("Dead heads mourn passing of rock legend", 10 August). Captain Trips has taken the big one. Living in America, the thing about the Grateful Dead was that you always knew they'd be back. It was incredibly reassuring - that there was something constant out there, that had been around for longer than most of us had been alive, that simply wouldn't do what rock stars are supposed to do, but kept coming back. The next tour was but a few months away, and while young upstart bands (in fact, whole genres) would come and go, and the Stones and Pink Floyd just got more and more corporate slick, the Dead didn't budge.

It was the grown-ups' circus. It really was. A place where you could smoke, trip, or not, dance like a freak, and generally have the best time for a few hours or so. It was all about the "scene", and the incredible warmth and energy that went with it.

There really was something magic about a Dead show. It was because of the two halves. The music, at times just plain groovy, as in "Shakedown Street", at others delicate and beautiful, as in "Terrapin". And the crowd. Believe me, a stadium with literally everyone dancing and spinning around, and the pleasure on people's faces, is a truly awesome sight.

And now we all feel a little bit alone, as though the great big freight train chugging along, pulling us with it, just suddenly disappeared and we're all left standing there, not quite sure what to do with ourselves or where to go next.

There'll never be another show again. And there's nothing even vaguely similar to replace it. It really is the end of an incredible era.

Yours faithfully,

Tom Hopkinson

London, SW9

11 August