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10 August 2022

Grateful Dead Bootleg Culture Explored In New Book

Grateful Dead Bootleg book
Anthology Editions
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Grateful Dead bootleg culture is to be explored in a new book, After All Is Said and Done: Taping the Grateful Dead 1965-1995, due 20 September via Anthology Editions. The book is available to pre-order here.

Artist and collector Mark A Rodriguez has explored the groundbreaking history of the devoted bootleg tapers community who developed their own culture of recording and trading cassettes of Grateful Dead live shows. After All Is Said And Done features dozens of interviews with tape enthusiasts, members of the Dead organization and striking visuals from hundreds of archival cassette covers.

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If any one musical act of the rock and roll era can be said to have transcended the simple categorization of “band,” the Grateful Dead is it: by the time they stopped performing in 1995, the Dead had become an international institution with a vast backing organization, a massive and devoted fanbase, and archival recordings both official and bootlegged.

The cultural significance of these bootlegs — live concert cassettes which solidified the Dead’s legendary status even as they occupied a legal grey area for decades — is utterly unique in the annals of music, and the story of their creation, trading, and endless proliferation is a people’s history unto itself. Featuring dozens of interviews with tape enthusiasts and members of the Grateful Dead organization as well as the show stopping visuals from hundreds of archival cassette covers, After All Is Said and Done is artist Mark A Rodriguez’s exploration of that history, a saga of homegrown psychedelia, anarchic graphic styles, and black market fandom as written in magnetic tape.

Mark A Rodriguez is an artist who divides his time between Los Angeles and New Mexico. He has drawn from and expanded on his experiences as a collector to develop a sculptural practice that explores themes of cultural ownership, folk art, and technological obsolescence. Since getting his start collecting Grateful Dead cassettes in the mid-90s, more than 27,000 tapes have passed through his hands.

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