Why the Grateful Dead Will Never Die

Sam Ripples
5 min readMay 19, 2019


The music never stopped…

Jerry Garcia died when I was two.

I got into the Dead in 2012, far too many years late into the game. Even if I’d known about them at birth, I still wouldn’t have had enough time to see them live, let alone in their heyday. I tell customers at my day job that their birth year is my favorite year if it happens to fall in the 70s, just because I’m jealous they were closer to the glory. Some of my customers even saw them and I milk them for every memory clouded in that acid-induced fog.

I’m a woman obsessed.

I saw Further in 2012, when they played at Wanee Music Festival. The music shook me so deeply — it took me by the hand and led me, grinning in mad glee, towards the life I now live today.

For me, The Grateful Dead symbolize my path to self-actualization, and I don’t think I’m alone. I’ve talked to so many fans over the years about how the Dead changed us, how it brought us a community in an insane world, how it opened our hearts to the idea that humanity isn’t inwardly bad.

I’m quite a pessimist when it comes to the human race. I feel like we’ve done so much harm to each other and the environment, it wouldn’t be a bad idea if we just went extinct because of climate change. It’s not like we don’t deserve it.

But being at my first Dead show, I experienced the most beautiful moment, one that changed my life and viewpoint forever.

“China Cat Sunflower”, a riotously happy tune if you’re unfamiliar with it, was playing as we crested the hill that overlooked the stage. Tall pines surrounded us, dripping with Spanish moss that danced along to the music of the wind. There were so many people gathered in that field below the hill, but everyone moved together, like ocean currents weaving in and out of each other. Like a sea of humanity.


One woman danced just behind the soundboard, eyes closed in ecstasy, a huge hula hoop swinging around her hips. It was her that encouraged me to notice the others that surrounded her, dancing to their own beat, but along with one another, smiles…