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Growing Up Dead: The Hallucinated Confessions of a Teenage Deadhead Paperback – March 31, 2009
The popular new release from Philip Norman. Learn more
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“Offers a perspective often missing from other Dead chronicles: that of one of the suburban teens who dropped out of high school and/or college to follow a band…Earnest and often hilarious…What really went on at a typical Dead show in the 1980s.”
“Insightful and entertaining.”
Dennis McNally, author of A Long Strange Trip
“The hardest part of being the Grateful Dead’s publicist was convincing the media that Deadheads were diverse, thoughtful, and not infrequently accomplished. If I’d just had a copy of Growing Up Dead, I could have simply handed it out. The Deadhead subculture was rich and fascinating, and this book is a terrific documentation of it.”
Library Journal, 3/1/09
“Part memoir, part social history…[Conners has an] engrossing personal story and breezy style…Recommended for Dead followers and rock music fanatics.”
David Gans, host of the Grateful Dead Hour
“This is a very important addition to the Grateful Dead bookshelf: an honest, articulate, celebratory, and inspiring account of life on Dead tour in the 1980s. Peter Conners does a great job of describing the magic.”
Tucson Citizen, 4/9/09
“[Conners] attended nearly 100 Dead shows nationwide, traveling from place to place in a Volkswagen camper and, amazingly, lived to write about it.”
New York Post, 4/12/09
“[Conners] tells of his ‘long, strange trip.’”
The Onion (A.V. Club), 4/16/09
“What’s most valuable about Growing Up Dead is how easily Conners delineates the Deadhead mindset…He’s also good on the many, sometimes subtle ways this seemingly formless scene forms its own definite hierarchies…Growing Up Dead is a mixed bag, but an admirable one, not unlike The Grateful Dead itself.”
Albany Times Union, 4/16/09
“Part memoir, part music appreciation.”
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, 4/24/09
“Isn't that a great title?...Anyone who ever loved any band or musician with a deep passion will identify with much in Conners' story…Also an entertaining look at a subculture.”
Augusta Metro Spirit, 4/29/09
“Stunning narrative…A must have for Deadheads, art fans, and cultural fiends.”
“A Quick read precisely because Conners does not skimp on the riveting, less-than-flattering details…The narrative is exciting…As a personal memoir, Peter Conners’ Growing Up Dead is readable and honest, revealing…A pretty, good story.”
Rochester City Newspaper, 5/13/09
“The terms ‘Grateful Dead’ and ‘memoir’ don't usually mix, but in Peter Connors new book the two become synonymous…The book also tackles the psychedelic culture of love, music, and drugs.”
Princeton Record Exchange blog
“Fun and fascinating book…Written with intelligence, insight and humor, here’s a book that music buffs of any and every stripe can enjoy and appreciate.”
Relix, Aug/Sept 2009
“[An] honest, thoughtful, and an entertaining read.”
NPR: All Things Considered “Three Books” segment, by teacher writer Will Layman
“No music fan is more invested than a follower of the Grateful Dead. Peter Conners' new memoir, Growing Up Dead, chronicles the exhilaration of falling in love with music as if nothing else in life even remotely matters. Conners was an aimless 16 year old when he first heard the whirling, improvised rock of his heroes. He describes guitar runs that send "sparkler streams across the arena" and writes that the sound of a keyboard "swirls down your cochlea, expanding into warm chocolate behind your eyes." Music fans will understand: That's not LSD imagery but just the way music sounds when your surrender has no limit.”
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
During the long period between album releases, when perhaps various bandmembers' rebellious proclivities were beginning to catch up with them, the Dead scene experienced something of a third wind. Perhaps it was the advent of the "just say no" years and the growing need for a refuge for the disaffected youth of that era. Garcia famously called the Dead tour the last remaining great American adventure. Certainly my own experience when I stumbled into the parking lot in 1984 was a stiff sense of incredulity: how was this through-the-looking-glass society existing in parallel with the malls and office parks of the Reagan 80s? How were we getting away with this? How could it possibly last?
As we know, it couldn't last. It was a bubble of sorts, but its surface tension held for a crucial stretch of years, long enough to sustain this pocket of the counterculture until reinforcements could arrive, tune up, plug in, and rock out.
Peter Conners is a bit younger than I am, but he got on the bus just before the tidal wave of a "hit song on MTV" crashed into the parking lot scene of 1987 and his memoir, Growing Up Dead, represents the first holographic capture of exactly what it felt like at just that time.Read more ›
I was on `the scene' about 10 years before the author. I sang Jerry's songs as lullabies and my son grew up listening to the Garcia/Grisman music for children. My husband is in The Grateful Dead Movie. Does that make us Deadheads? Not by this author's description. I never needed LSD to enjoy a show, I never stopped showering, I never frightened people around me by losing consciousness, I was never a freeloader, and I never put my family or work second to attending a show. Conners doesn't explain why the Dead, for him, came before having a college education or a job. The only thing the Dead seemed to help him focus on was using drugs and avoiding the responsibilities of adulthood.
For young people reading this book, I want you to know that we weren't all high, tripping, dropouts doing illegal things to support ourselves. Some of us, Jerry included, had excellent work ethics. It is an unfortunate stereotype that deadheads are remembered as dirty, drug-using, freeloading and self-serving.Read more ›
The one drawback is that I don't know if someone who wasn't into the scene and didn't know anything about it would enjoy the book? I read it looking for friends that might crop up, things I would remember, etc. but not sure if someone from the outside who is interested in learning about The Dead and Deadheads would be satisfied and find it entertaining. I would hope so.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Since Jerry Garcia's passing it seems everyone even remotely connected with the band has written a memoir. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Soccer Mommy
Being a Dead Head, this is one of the best books I have ever read.Conners captures and puts into words, the power of the Grateful Dead's music so perfectly along with his personal... Read morePublished on February 27, 2014 by kristin
Great read, really brought me back to when I first started seeing shows. His first show was my 2nd (Kingswood Theater, Canada's Wonderland 1987). Wow, what a flashback. Read morePublished on January 29, 2014 by Kevin Oaks
Loved the book.
There are some negative reviews out there that seem more the reviewer's distaste for the author's personal lifestyle at that time than they are an... Read more
this is a great story for anyone who is a dead fan, explains the true lifestyle of being a dead head and what that means inside and out. Read morePublished on September 8, 2013 by frances
This was more like reminiscing about adolescence (fairly pedestrian, I may add) with GD experience as a backdrop rather than a story about life and experience as a Deadhead. Read morePublished on August 29, 2013 by Jamie Thomas
My daughter followed the Greatful Dead around the country in the the 80's so I was interested in reading the book. She also grew up near Pittsford NY as did the author. Read morePublished on August 10, 2013 by dpditto