From their earliest beginnings in the mid-1960s, the Grateful Dead was creating a community of music fans that came to be known as Deadheads. Band members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan lived together at 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco in the early years, and there were always people from the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood stopping by, hanging out, partying. During these formative years the band would perform many free gigs in the San Francisco area, making music they enjoyed and were thrilled to share with their friends. The fledgling community started coming together.
After their first album, The Grateful Dead, released by Warner Bros. in March 1967, the band embarked on a national tour (including their first gigs in New York City) to promote the album. With each new audience came new fans from across the country. With this rise in popularity, the band began wondering how they would bring the new fans into the spiritual community they had created back home. A notice placed inside the October 1971 live Skull and Roses album solved the problem:
DEAD FREAKS UNITE:
Who are you? Where are you? How are you? Send us your name and address and we'll keep you informed.Deadheads, P.O. Box 1065, San Rafael, California 94901.
A few times a year newsletters were sent out to the list of addresses they collected announcing tour dates and providing news about the extended family that was the Grateful ...