After Jerry’s Death: Achieving Continuity in Deadhead Identity and Community

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rebecca G. Adams, Professor (Creator)
Amy Marie Ernstes (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Fan bases are often national or even global in scope with individual members separated by great distances. In the past, it would have been challenging for fans to form communities including people who did not live in the same geographic location, but recent improvements in communications and transportation technology have facilitated their development (Adams 1998). One such community surrounds the Grateful Dead, a North American rock band that had played together for thirty years when its lead guitarist, Jerry Garcia, died of a heart attack early in the morning of August 9, 1995 during his stay at a rehabilitation clinic in Forest Knolls, California (Wilgoren 1999). Today, more than ?fteen years After Jerry’s Death (AJD), Deadheads still identify themselves as members of a community and are still loyal to the remaining original members of the band, attending performances of the bands they comprise such as Furthur, Phil and Friends, Ratdog, the 7 Walkers, and the Mickey Hart Band. From the vantage point of almost two decades AJD, it is clear that both the remaining members of the band and Deadheads have contributed to the persistence of this community, but that not all Deadheads participate in it actively and not all Deadheads who do participate in it do so in the same ways. The ways in which Deadheads contributed to the persistence of their community after Jerry’s death thus provides the focus of this case study of how fan communities deal with such a change.

Additional Information

In M. Duffet, Popular Music Fandom: Identities, Roles and Practices.
Language: English
Date: 2013
Grateful Dead, Deadheads, Jerry Garcia, sociology

Email this document to