The history of Grateful Dead Rock

I think a Friend of the Devil was Truckin’ down to the Big Muddy River was inspired by St. Stephen and Some Fire on the Mountain. They grabbed a bit of Stella Blue with a Touch of Gray paint and used their Crazy Fingers to paint on the Brokedown Palace of granite.

Let’s clear this up right off the bat. Painting nature is bad. Unauthorized graffiti is bad. All that being said finding out the history of something that has definitely a part of our lives is good.

Mark Holmberg makes an attempt to find out Who gave birth to Dead Rock?

Legend has it the Grateful Dead played an early show or two in Richmond in the ’70s, well before they were banned from RVA in ’85 because of a mini-riot at the Coliseum and LSD overdoses. (I reviewed that show for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. It was quite the night.)

Some believe the Dead partied on Belle Isle while they were here. (It was easy access then because of the pre-Lee Bridge causeway and the island’s steel mill had shut down.)

Hit the previous link to find the other theory which is told by Ralph White who knows more about the James River Park than I know about anything in the world.

It’s worth pointing out that the James River Park System (Friends of the James River) who provided the picture above also came to the same conclusions that Holmberg did but say it much more condensed version.

In 1967, the Grateful Dead band had a party here after a show in Richmond.

Folklore has it that a family from the nearby neighborhood of Oregon Hill painted this design from the cover of a record album in memory of one of their sons who loved the band.

Although graffiti in the park is strictly prohibited and enforced by law, ‘Dead Rock’ is a historic landmark because it existed before Belle Isle opened in 1991 as parkland. This rock is likely the MOST POPULAR SPOT in the James River Park System. ROCK and roll!

Image: James River Park

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Richard Hayes

When Richard isn’t rounding up neighborhood news, he’s likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest craft beer.

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