Book Review: ‘Fare Thee Well: The Final Chapter of the Grateful Dead’s Long, Strange Trip’

Joel Selvin’s Fare Thee Well is a long, strange trip. Once Jerry Garcia died in 1995, the Grateful Dead went into a free fall. The guitar player dubbed Captain Trips was their fearless leader.

Referring to the band and the people around the Dead (crew, managers, other staff), Selvin writes on page 2: “Their entire foundation had come loose, and they were jolted by the harsh realities that had suddenly intruded into their lives.”

Fare Thee Well is basically the story of the four remaining band members (a.k.a. The Core Four): singer/guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh and drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. It could also be called “Life After Jerry.”

The main thesis of the book focuses on Lesh and his wife Jill wresting control of the band. With Garcia gone, they took over, or at least attempted to take over, the band’s operations. This occurred after both Leshes recovered from their respective illnesses in 1998 (Phil had a liver replacement, and Jill had thyroid cancer).

The rancor and squabbles, harsh words and piss-offs melted away once the Core Four reunited for their final five “Fare Thee Well” concerts.

Their disdain for Weir boiled over when

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