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Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History by Bill Halligan, Brian Halligan, David Meerman Scott

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Chapter 4. Be Yourself

In an era when many bands were known for their outrageous costumes and slick onstage personas, the Grateful Dead stood out. Shunning the glitter suits and makeup of glam rockers and the polished Mod look of the British bands, Grateful Dead members were simply themselves—dope-smoking, music-loving, San Francisco hippies.

Band members appeared on stage looking a lot like their fans: donning long hair, scruffy beards, and Birkenstocks, their look didn't change much over the years. By the time Phil Lesh was in his forties, he looked less like an aging rocker and more like someone's mild-mannered next-door neighbor as he played bass guitar in his jeans and T-shirt. In fact, he looked a lot like many of the aging Deadheads in the audience.

Unlike most live concerts, which were highly orchestrated, repeatable events, the Grateful Dead's concerts were completely unscripted, which meant that band members often made mistakes. Sometimes they'd start a song, weren't able to get into it, and would just stop playing it. When they made mistakes musically, they simply shrugged it off and moved on. Their fans understood and accepted this as part of the Grateful Dead experience. After all, they were human, too.

While the Grateful Dead did have PR people and managers, the band still managed to keep ...

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