Saturday, February 11, 2012

Steve Parish, Band Manager

If anyone in the Grateful Dead organization had knowledge of the nuances of a venue, it would be Steve Parish. From 1969 to 1995 he worked in approximately 589 venues with the Grateful Dead and over 250 other venues with Jerry's side bands!

Imagine the shock and awe when these guys rolled into a venue that they hadn't been to before! Talk about a takeover!
July 1, 1977

With the Grateful Dead
1969-47 new venues
1970-57 new venues
1971-45 new venues
1972-47 new venues
1973-45 new venues
1974-23 new venues
1975-2 new venues
1976-15 new venues
1977-29 new venues
1978-37 new venues
1979-26 new venues
1980-29 new venues
1981-35 new venues
1982-16 new venues
1983-24 new venues
1984-14 new venues
1985-13 new venues
1986-5 new venues
1987-13 new venues
1988-11 new venues
1989-12 new venues
1990-18 new venues
1991-11 new venues
1992-6 new venues
1993-3 new venues
1994-1 new venue
1995-5 new venues(3)

I'm not sure who chose the venues for Grateful Dead shows but whoever it was, it seems, tried to keep it interesting.

I recently asked Parish if he was the one who chose the venues for Jerry's side bands. He said yes.

Steve and Ken Kesey

Steve Parish was a primary family member of the Grateful Dead for over 30 years. Stumbling onto the scene in 1969, he was absorbed into the band’s organization as a roadie, close friend and confidant. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the band knows the Dead’s road crew wielded an exceptional amount of power and influence. In so many ways, Parish, along with other sprite characters like Ramrod, Kid Cadelerio, Rex Jackson, and Dan Healy, were as vital to the long and strange trip as the band members themselves. Parish not only handled Garcia’s gear; he was also manager of the Jerry Garcia Band. The tight bond between Garcia and Parish lasted right up until the very end, when on August 9, 1995 Jerry Garcia passed away. Parish was one of the last people to see Garcia alive.
The Road Crew......

We'll keep adding to this until we have them all..they ALL deserve our thanks! If I left out someone, please email

Laird Grant AKA Barney
Larry Ramrod Schurtliff
Rex Jackson
Sonny Heard
Dan Healy
Augustus Owsley Stanley III...good ole Bear!
Steve Parish
Joe Winslow
Sparky Raizene
Billy Grillo
John Hagen
Betty Cantor
Kidd Candelario
Candace Brightman
Robbie Taylor
Harry Popick
Mike Fischer
Bob Bralove
Willy Legate
Cameron Sears
John Cutler
Jon McIntire
Bob Matthews
Sam Cutler
Rock Scully
Paul Roulke
Richard Pechner

Danny Rifkin
Don Pearson
Howard Danchik
Dennis Leonard
Eric Colby
Mike Brady
Glen (Chubby) Carrier
Michael Sean Healy
Uwe Willenbacher
Bernie Granat
Derek Featherstone
Jose Neves
Jimmy Voss
John Markward
Dave Miller
Eric Stein
Karen Candido
Jamie Ulichny
Marty Cohen

Since then, Parish has written Home Before Daylight, a delightful book about his experiences with the Grateful Dead that’s heading to the big screen. He has also worked intermittently with various members of the iconic band, as well as been involved with various Jerry Garcia posthumous releases. In addition, he has busied himself with a flurry of other activities, including hosting, an online roundtable where Deadheads can get the inside scoop of life on the road, featuring interviews with band members and other key associates of the inner circle. In keeping with the cutting-edge tradition of the Grateful Dead, Parish told me he was reviving as a podcast.(1)

With most bands, the crew functions as hired help. But with the Dead, you guys were an integral part of band.
We were true brothers. It was a special thing about the band. Jerry’s imprint was on everybody ¬– he was that kind of guy. He claimed we kind of invented ourselves in a way. We started working at a place called Alembic, building a PA. And the Grateful Dead took that PA over and that solidified it. Jerry really respected the people who worked for him. He was a guy who loved the working man ¬– he was raised that way. So he said, “these people are helping us through life, let’s share this thing with them.” It really worked well. If we were sitting around and talking about where to go in the country, there were some really good, intelligent things that people had to say and we tried to make the right moves that way.

"I was lucky because I probably saw Jerry play more than anyone. We had both bands. All the side projects I got to do with him were incredible. He could just go into a studio and play with anybody after hearing a song one time. That was a fantastic gift he had."

"A lot of people think that a big guy isn’t too bright – they put that handle on you. Jerry wanted to disapprove that theory. He put me in the position to do his thinking on how to move his band around. He trusted me explicitly because we had that bond.
But I could not let go of the equipment. I still came in and restrung the guitars and plugged Jerry in and kept that bond with him. Usually, anyone in management drops their roadie stuff and jumps into management. But I kept in both worlds. Really, managing Jerry was pretty easy. We had a lot of opportunities offered to us. It wasn’t like we had to go out and beg for gigs. So I learned at the feet of ten other managers and Jerry knew I could handle it."

"He slept with these instruments," said equipment manager Steve Parish, who handled Garcia's guitars for more than 25 years. " You could lose amps. You could break things, and sometimes we did. But I could never look Jerry in the eye and say, 'I don't have your guitar."  
What do you miss most about being on the road with the Grateful Dead?
"That energy, that excitement, that edge you don’t get in regular life. The show much go on and everything coming together at the last minute for that fantastic moment when it was action, lights and show. And we worked our asses off to get to that point each day."

"I remember when we were young and at one of the nightclubs in the city. We were sitting around in the afternoon, and I asked: “Are we going to keep doing this when we’re old?” and Jerry said, “Yeah, I’ll be on a street corner playing and you can pass the hat around.” He wasn’t going to quit no matter what." (1)

In August 1993, Steve Cripe got a call from Steve Parish, Garcia’s guitar tech, who said, “Jerry loved the guitar! He was using it for the Jerry Garcia Band and opening with it with the Grateful Dead.” Cripe said, “Parish went on to ask a lot of questions about the guitar and that’s when we officially named it ‘Lightning Bolt’ and he asked me to build a backup” guitar for Garcia.
Cripe asked Parish to “take measurements or draw a template of the neck” of the guitar. Parish was puzzled to learn that Cripe “winged it”, in terms of shaping the guitar from the video. Parish told him to “wing it” again and Garcia got on the phone and told him to “just do it. If I don’t like it, I’ll send it back”.
His first sale resulted in a check dated December 13, 1993, for $7,000 from Grateful Dead Productions, Inc. The check stub said, “Two Custom Guitars For Garcia OK Per Parish.”
Cripe received tickets and backstage passes to a Dead concert in Tampa, FL, on April 7, 1995. He did not get to see Garcia but he met with Parish who told him “’Lightning Bolt’ held up better than any other guitar Jerry has owned and that Jerry was playing “Top Hat” at home.”(2)

 Here's a video of Steve at the Monte Rio Music Festival, Sonoma County, CA 9/4/11

In 1978, "Bob Weir looked up at the Great Pyramid and cried out, "What is it!" Actually, it was the place for locals to go on a cheap date. The Pyramids were surrounded by moats of discarded bottlecaps. A bootleg tape of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis doing filthy shtick was being used for a preliminary sound check. Later, an American general complained to stage manager Steve Parish that the decadence of a rock 'n' roll band performing here was a sacrilege to 5,000 years of history.
"Listen," Parish said, "I lost two brothers in 'Nam, and I don't wanna hear this crap."
The general retreated in the face of those imaginary brothers."
Paul Krassner

Steve was Garcia's Best Man at his wedding.

Mitchell Parish (July 10, 1900 – March 31, 1993) was an American lyricist.
By the late 1920s Mitchell Parish was a well regarded Tin Pan Alley lyricist in New York City.
His best known works include the lyrics to songs such as "Star Dust", "Sweet Lorraine", "Deep Purple", "Stars Fell on Alabama", "Sophisticated Lady", "Volare" (English lyrics), "Moonlight Serenade", "Mr. Ghost Goes to Town", "Sleigh Ride", "One Morning in May", and "Louisiana Fairy Tale", which was the first theme song used in the PBS Production of This Old House.
"Stardust" is an American popular song composed in 1927 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics added in 1929 by Mitchell Parish.
Parish's grandnephew was the Grateful Dead roadie Steve Parish, who described Parish's meeting with Jerry Garcia in his autobiography, "Home Before Day Light".
Mitchell Parish died in 1993 in Manhattan at the age of 92. He was buried in Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, New York.

In 2012 Steve Parish is the Stage Manager for Moonalice.

1.)^Perry, Shawn, The Steve Parish (Grateful Dead) Interview
2.)^About Cripe, Self Taught Luthier,

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