Home Before Daylight …My Life On The Road With The Grateful Dead …by Steve Parish

Home Before Daylight…My Life On The Road With The Grateful Dead  by Steve Parish

I bought this book thinking it was going to be another Grateful Dead history book by a roadie and manager. I was wrong on that account. Parish had no desire to retell what’s been told in so many books. It was more of his story and the brotherhood shared with the roadies and band. Yes…it is a book about sex, drugs, and rock and roll…make no mistake about that…but around the Dead things were different.

Parish’s story is worth hearing. How he worked himself up from a roadie working for free…to a paid roadie with this traveling circus of a band. After years of adventure, Garcia appointed him manager of the Jerry Garcia Band while also working as a roadie for them and The Grateful Dead. He was one of Jerry’s most trusted friends to the end.

He goes into all the members of the Dead…past and present and the members of that wild road crew. He got along with the band really well except for one…for a while anyway. Like I said at the beginning yes there was drink, drugs, and sex but these guys did work hard. The roadies would have at times, 16-20 hour days, especially in the 70s. At the time it was easy to see how drugs slipped into their world. What was amazing is how all of them cared about each other and wanted the best show possible for the band. That crew wielded an exceptional amount of power and influence. It’s safe to say more than any other road crew at that time and probably ever.

After driving all day and all night, Parish was in an accident while riding in the equipment truck in Texas. It’s a miracle no one wasn’t killed. Phil Lesh, the bass player for the Dead, pulled him aside later that night and told him he was relieved no one died and this would not happen again. Phil told him it was not worth this so they started to have regular drivers for the trucks so the roadies didn’t have to drive plus setup everything.

Parish also tells us of the tragedies through the years and the friends they lost. He also had an extremely large personal loss in the 80s but the band rallied around him and helped him through it. He also goes into detail about how the Hells Angels played a part in their world. I never knew how close they were to the roadies and a few members of the band.

He also talked about the Wall Of Sound. A giant PA system that Owsley Stanley designed. The wall was impressive to look at as well to listen to. It was created to prevent feedback and distortion. It took four semi-trailers and 21 crew members were required to haul and set up the 75-ton Wall. The sound had a reach of a quarter of a mile. It stood 3 stories high…just think of the work it took for the crew to set it up and take it down nightly. Some specs from wiki:

  1. 89 300-watt solid-state and three 350-watt vacuum tube amplifiers generating a total of 26,400 watts of audio power. 604 speakers total.
  2. 586 JBL speakers and 54 Electro-Voice tweeters powered by 48 McIntosh MC-2300 Amps (48 × 600 = 28,800 watts of continuous (RMS) power).

grateful dead wall of sound

Here is some grainy footage of the wall.

All in all…if you like rock and roll books…this one is really interesting.


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

16 thoughts on “Home Before Daylight …My Life On The Road With The Grateful Dead …by Steve Parish”

  1. I had McIntosh speakers with 12″ woofers. Lesh described the Wall of Sound as being the Voice of God. I had no idea that Maria Muldaur had used the Wall of Sound. I had several friends that were international smugglers and they had false bottom suitcases. The Dead performed Truckin’ 520 times, making it the eighth-most performed Dead song. Nice post Max.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jim… it’s was an entertaining book. I found out things I didn’t know. One story that I didn’t know about was that Jerry was held at gun point by a pimp who thought he messed with one of his girls but it was an imposter…the Hells Angels saved the situation

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Whaaaat? The Dead and crew used weed on occasion? With songs titled ‘Mississippi Half-Step Tooleoo’ I am shocked and stunned by such a revelation.
    Sounds a good read, I believe I may have seen a copy at our local Sweet Deal Secondhand Book Shop. Perhaps it might be worth the 3 bucks or whatever?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is Obbverse. Yea I like warning people lol… but yea… Grateful Dead and drugs…

      He has an interesting story. What a life they led back then. 3 bucks is a good deal for this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for highlighting something I never really looked at or considered: that massive wall of sound equipment. It’s truly stunning how that had to be broken down and set back up wherever they were playing. How in the world did they do it? It’s also stunning nobody ever got killed/electrocuted/crushed/etc. while doing it. It’s an amazing dedication to providing quality sound to the audience. One of those things I want to visit in the time machine one day. I bet that book would be one heck of an insider’s view of one of the best bands of all time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see why drugs came in… working them long of days… speed was used a lot along with truckers back then.
      I saw an Allmans touring schedule and they had Montreal one night and Miami the next! No planes… a Winnebago… not that drugs are good but no one could keep that kind of schedule and the Dead and Allmans toured a lot.

      That wall of sound is impressive! What I wouldn’t give to play through it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds like an interesting read, and the aspect of all the work the roadies put in would be neat to see ..too few of us take that into account when seeing shows. Funny, somehow with their music being generally mellow I wouldn’t have expected them to be a high decibel act

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I put it like this…. Phil Lesh had a stack for every string…a set of speakers for every string lol.
      It was a fun read about that world at that time…incredible the freedom they enjoyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Reminds me of stories my Texan co-worker told me about being a roadie. It was not always a “fun job.” He provided pictures, too. It was wild seeing this guy with hair down to his waist in his younger days.

    I know just a handful of Dead songs. I wouldn’t classify myself as a “fan.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Jeez, that Wall of Sound was really something. Had you mentioned it in the context of, say, Pink Floyd, I still would have been impressed but not surprised. But The Dead? I never would have guessed it.

    Being a roadie largely sounds like an unglamorous and very hard job to me. And yet, these guys are absolutely crucial. It was nice of Jackson Browne to write a song about them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yea…and in this band it was totally wild. You are dealing with the band and the Hells Angels lol. That Wall Of Sound I heard was crystal clear…imagine Phil Lesh had banks of speakers for each string!

      Liked by 1 person

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