New Grateful Dead Photography Book Offers Deep Dive Into Jerry Garcia’s Life


Famed rock photographer Jay Blakesberg will release the fine art photography book Jerry Garcia: Secret Space of Dreams on Oct. 15. The 208-page hardcover collection will feature 139 photos of the late Grateful Dead singer/guitarist spanning from a Sept. 2, 1978, show at Giants Stadium through the April 1995 filming of the "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" video.

Beginning in the middle of his career with the improvisational rock icons and lasting through the last third of his life, the book begins with the very first pictures a then-16 year-old Blakesberg took of the band on a Pentax camera loaned to him by his father. The book's foreword was written by Grammy-winning singer/guitarist John Mayer — currently touring with the Dead spin-off group Dead & Company — who writes about re-interpreting the lead guitar role formerly occupied by Garcia, who died in Aug. 1995 at age 53 of a heart attack.

“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 according to a press release announcing the project. “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.”

The book also features an introduction from journalist/musician/radio host and Grateful Dead historian David Gans, who delves into the mythology around Garcia, as well as an essay from the guitarist's daughter, Trixie. Plus, fans can look out for quotes from Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, David Crosby, Jim James, Carlos Santana, Trey Anastasio, Robert Hunter, Jackie Greene, Jorma Kaukonen, Country Joe McDonald, David Grisman, and the four core members of the GD — Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart. Widespread Panic founding member David Schools wrote the afterword. 

"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," writes Schools.

Secret Space of Dreams follows up Blakesberg's 2015 GD photography book, Fare Thee Well: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead, a chronicle of the band's five anniversary concerts in summer 2015 in Chicago, and Santa Clara, California.

Check out some of the photos from the book below, featuring captions by Blakesberg.

This was a benefit concert produced by Bill Graham Presents for the people of El Salvador. It featured Garcia, Weir, Carlos Santana, Boz Scaggs, NRBQ, , Bonnie Raitt, and Tower of Power and was called “Blues For Salvador." I was on assignment for Rolling Stone Magazine. I saw Bill Graham walk in to a dressing room side stage and just followed him in. Garcia and Weir were in there in their Hawaiian Shirts (just back from scuba diving in the Islands). I said, "hey, can I get a shot for Rolling Stone magazine?"

I call this one "The Smoker." Jerry smoked cigarettes non-stop, so when he asked if he could smoke during the shoot which was for Acoustic Guitar magazine, I had no problem with it, as I felt it would capture a part of who Jerry really was.

For decades, there was a legendary record store in Mill Valley, CA called Village Music. This shot was taken at one of the Anniversary parties for the store at the original Sweetwater right down the street from Village Music. Elvis [Costello] saw the Grateful Dead on their legendary Europe 72 tour, and was thrilled to play with him at this intimate show in front of about 100 people! Also jamming that night was Garcia's idol, James Burton.

Live shot from the "Blues For Salvador" benefit. 

At this point I was still a fan in the audience with a camera no special credentials. The Grateful Dead always allowed their fans to bring professional cameras in to shows. I knew these shows with Dylan would be once in a lifetime. I got into the venue as early as possible and secured a spot up front that I thought would be a good angle, and shot as much as I could!