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Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road with the Grateful Dead Hardcover – September 19, 2003

4 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The life of rock band roadie would hardly inspire the likes of say, Emile Zola. But Steve Parish's 30+ year tenure with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band, and its survivors makes for compelling reading, even if his low-key, often self-deprecating reportorial style can't hope to begin to unravel the complex psychology that drove the symptomatic excesses---and all too many tragedies--of the 60's most enduringly emblematic American band. There's more here than sex, drugs, and rock and roll, even if Parish's writing struggles to encompass the meaning of it all. And make no mistake; The Dead and their coterie were, in the estimation of unlikely Deadhead Joseph Campbell, nothing short of potent modern mythology evolving before his very eyes. In the fallout of one memorable backstage incident, the author even found himself parodied by John Belushi in an SNL skit written by Deadheads Al Franken and Tom Davis. Parish casts little judgment on the oft-debauched actions of his cohorts here, though he often stops to note the brightness of their humanity. A paradoxical marriage of unrestrained hedonism and radical Christian social conscience, The Dead's world seems to still baffle Parish. His continued wonderment at it all is one of the book's charms; his tortured sense of helplessness in the addiction-fueled decline and death of Jerry Garcia, its spiritual and musical leader, its most tragic mystery. --Jerry McCulley

From the Back Cover

Never before has a true insider, a member of the Grateful Dead family from the band's early days through today, told the story of life on the road with the Grateful Dead. From San Francisco to Europe to Egypt and back again; from wild parties and horrible tragedies; from laughter to heartbreak--this is the inside story of the most legendary American rock 'n' roll band of all time and the tale of a man who lived it, from roadie to manager and brother.

"The Grateful Dead was all about improvisation, and Steve spoke that language with flourish...Steve was a central figure, often in the lead of what was going on backstage, in the hotels, on the airplanes, busses, boats, or whatever. If ever I get around to writing a book, you'll be reading plenty more about Steve."
--Bob Weir, from the foreword
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (September 19, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031230353X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312303532
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,383 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andrew Macgowan, III on September 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Steve Parrish has been a justifiaby much-loved member of the Grateful Dead circle for decades, and this is why his book has been so anticipated. More than most, Parrish has earned the right to speak his peace. He's just a real, plain-spoken big-hearted fella - and it's this approach to writing his book (with Joe Layden) - as to why Parrish's book succeeds. Parrish manages to write with honesty but with compassion. For this reason many readers may prefer this simpler work over McNally's and Skully's books.
No, Steve Parish does not write with the sophistication and finesse of, say, Blair Jackson (still the best writer on the GD scene), it's the emotional directness that separates this book from many of the rest. True, there are a few minor inaccuracies with times and dates (believe me, you've seen worse). But it's the overall emotional quality of Parrish's stories and insights, for me at least, that I found more compelling than some of the other, more polished works that have come out. And don't let the plain-spoken nature of this book fool you: There are numerous observations, anecdotes and insights (I wish there were more), that only Steve Parrish could deliver (the meeting with Garcia and Sinatra is a riot).
So for those of us who loved the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Phil, Bobby and the rest of the crew, and for whom the emotional quality of the band mattered (and matters) more than anything else, Parrish's effort is one of the better ones there at this time. Recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I am not and never have been a deadhead but I was very entertained by these road stories. Initially it was very hard for me to read as I am a little too close to the author... but as I continued reading I distanced myself and found I could not put this book down. What an unusual life this guy had - I laughed, I cried, then I kissed the author. Enjoy it, it's quite a ride.
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Format: Hardcover
I think the major problem with this book is that readers will buy the book to learn new insights about Garcia & the Dead. What they will get is few new insights that haven't already been written about but plenty of info on Parish's life as a roadie and his sexcapades. Who really cares about that. We all know that every band and roadie has drank to oblivion, partied harder than most, slept with groupies in multiple combinations. What we want to know is interesting stories about Garcia and the DeAD. While there are some good stories and insights, they are few and far between.
I too have read every book about the band and was looking foward to reading this book for months. I read the entire book in 2 days. There was some new insight into what a great guy Weir is. How Weir hated the Hells Angels. How Mickey was the most difficult memeber of the band. There is also some more sad confirmation of what a Heroin addict Garcia was for most of the last 25 years of his life. From Parish's inside position with Garcia and the band there could have been another 300 pages of good stories. Don't blame Parish for how poorly written this book is though, blame his co-author Joe Layden who wrote the Chuck Zito Hells Angels book. Another piece of quickly written but entertaining trash.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This memoir answers a lot of questions as to what happened to both Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. They hit their zenith in 1972, in their performances and creativity, and as a functional unit. After this time, it seems like a spiraling effect of death, debauchery, and drugs took a heavy toll. The thing about the Dead that always appealed was that it was such a good-natured experience in those early days. But success apparently was a tradeoff for almost everyone involved, like a Greek drama.

This was a difficult story to read. Perhaps the author feels differently now that his daughter is grown.The tales of how he and his friends treated young women are appalling. What comes through is a sense that the author doesn't feel in any way the lifestyle he participated in would be questionable by societal standards. This world was obviously a bubble, an entity unto itself, with its own rules, very much like a gang. I found the story very troubling. I read this on a recommendation. If you were/are a fan of the Dead, this memoir might destroy some of those good memories. Read at your own risk.
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Format: Hardcover
Great outstanding, finally a book from a real insider. I've been in the dead scene for over thirty years, and like most deadheads can't get enough. I especially liked the stories about the odd happenings on the road that only a true roadie would know. Terrific stories, told in an exciting and humerous way. I read it in one sitting and finished it just before daylight.
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What comes across to me in this book is that Steve is honest, sincere, & authentic. I love reading about Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, but I'm not sure anything new was said in this book. "Dark Star" gives you the same kind of story also. And we all know the story of Jerry's decline. It wasn't pretty. What's even less pretty is the life of a roadie close to a major rock band like the Dead. Sure there were drugs, but the tales of the sex is sometimes disturbing and Steve doesn't see the how treating women that way was sick and wrong.

His fondness for Jerry is touching but Steve tells it like it is...a junkie and a junkie's life. Steve couldn't save him, no one around him could. Now we live without him.
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