Grateful Dead Houses and Party Pads, Then and Now
The Grateful Dead were unlike any band. This group of nonconformist, counterculture hippies epitomized the psychedelic rock movement of the 1960s and became one of the most famous music groups of all time.
They were something new and something different. The conservative press was enamored with them. They became so influential even in their earliest years that they managed to change (inadvertently) the makeup of an entire San Francisco neighborhood.
We're looking at the real estate, past and present, of the Grateful Dead as a band and its core members: Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir. Come take a long, strange trip through the various party pads and homes of the Grateful Dead.
Where the Grateful Dead First Played
On Dec. 4, 1965, the Warlocks changed their name to the Grateful Dead and took to the "stage" at one of Ken Kesey's Acid Test parties held in an 1895 Victorian house in downtown San Jose, California. It was the first official on-stage performance of the Grateful Dead, the legendary jam band that became one of the most influential music groups in history.
"We took our equipment, we took LSD, we plugged in and we played," Bob Weir said in his Netflix biography, "The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir."
This house was originally located at 43 S. Fifth Street but has been moved to 635 St. James Street after a buyer offered to renovate and preserve it. It's private property and hasn't been up for sale since 1997, when it sold for $225,000.
710 Ashbury Street: Then
The most famous Grateful Dead house is 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco, which the Grateful Dead and others moved into in 1966. Jack Kerouac's friend Neal Cassady (who was immortalized as Dean Moriarty in "On the Road") lived here, too, as did others.
It was Weir's job to answer the door. One day, on Oct. 2, 1967 — two weeks before Weir's 20th birthday — cops raided the house, looking for drugs. And they found them, in the form of that dastardly plant, marijuana.
Over a dozen police officers, city inspectors and state agents arrested Weir and the late Ron "Pigpen" McKernan since they were the only two home at the time. So, too, were six women and two business managers. The cops confiscated a pound of pot.
Holding a News Conference
The police claimed the band intended to sell and distribute the bud — a crime that held a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison. But ultimately, the biggest penalty was a $200 fine. And no one went to jail.
This photo was taken in 1967 at 710 Ashbury when the Grateful Dead held a news conference to protest the drug bust and explain why it was all a bunch of garbage. You can watch the Grateful Dead's 1967 news conference on YouTube.
From left to right, the group members and people in the photo are: Ron McKernan, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, managers Rock Scully and Dan Rifkin, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, attorney Michael Stepanion and equipment manager Robert Mathews.
710 Ashbury Street: Today
According to property records, the house hasn't been sold since 1973, when someone picked up the legendary place for $55,000. It's easily worth $1.5 million and probably more due to the Dead's pedigree.
While the house is a private residence, Weir's Netflix documentary gives us a peek inside the home as it is today (technically in 2014, when the documentary was filmed).
Inside 710 Ashbury Street: Then
"The Grateful Dead's concept of a new style of life, is in most cases, drawn from the drug experience," an old, stuffy-sounding leftover newsman from the 1940s says in a vintage news report about the hippie movement.
"They live here in what can be called affluence. There are many other houses and apartments in Haight-Ashbury, where hippies live and work in places where employers do not mind bizarre dress or long hair."
Yes, back when "long hair" made the news regarding work culture.
Pigpen's Room: Then
This room belonged to Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
McKernan was a founding member of the Grateful Dead, who died at the age of 27 in 1973 due to gastrointestinal hemorrhage brought on by severe alcoholism.
Even though McKernan was not involved with the Grateful Dead in the year or so leading up to his death, the band was devastated. At his funeral, Garcia said, "We can go on calling ourselves the Grateful Dead, but after Pigpen's death, we all knew this was the end of the original Grateful Dead."
Pigpen's Room: Now
The fireplace, while now a different color, is still intact.
Weir revisited 710 Ashbury with his daughters for the documentary.
Bob Weir Chilling at Home in the 1960s
"Before the Summer of Love, the Haight-Ashbury was a youth ghetto where the students who went to San Francisco State all stayed," Weir, pictured here, recalled. "It was a low-rent area where kids would flock to, and there were lots of artists and musicians and writers. It was a really fun place. The horizons were totally limitless."
Bandmates remember how Weir, the most handsome bandmember, had a massive boombox in his room and would bring back countless groupies.
710 Ashbury Dining Room: Today
It's difficult to tell just how much of 710 Ashbury is original from the Grateful Dead days, but it certainly seems like it has been very well taken care of.
The Grateful Dead lived at 710 Ashbury for only a year, until March 1968. According to Weir, the group decided to exit the neighborhood after reporters made great fanfare out of the Haight.
Weir says reporters, unable to understand the community, "sensationalized what they could not understand: the drugs, the free love — all those aspects of what may or may not have been happening there."
The place blew up and brought in a whole new crowd of people. "[I]t changed overnight, the complexion of the place. Suddenly, the streets were full of speed freaks and drug addicts, and it was just a very different place. We moved out."
Moving to Marin County
In 1968, the group left for the tamer (and less cramped) area of Marin County, California. In the early 1970s, while searching for a house, Jerry Garcia found one in Stinson Beach.
In the photo above, members of the Grateful Dead pose for a photo taken in Marin County in 1985. Pictured from left, in the back row are Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, and Mickey Hart. In front are Brent Mydland, left, and Bob Weir.
For a blast to the past, check out the first appearance of Garcia and Weir on "The David Letterman Show" in 1982.
Jerry Garcia's Beach House
In 1971, Jerry bought this house with Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia.
"There was no police in Stinson in 1971, although its fire marshal, Colleen White, had once been involved with the CIA's LSD program," writes Dennis McNally in the Grateful Dead biography, "A Long Strange Trip." "There was a water tower on the road to Stinson someone had decorated with the word, 'Seek,' and Garcia felt good about that."
The property sold for $4.45 million in 2017. It's about 20 minutes away from San Francisco.
A Solo Album Paid for the Down Payment
The Garcias bought the home for $60,000, and it required a $20,000 down payment.
According to McNally, Jerry didn't have enough saved up for that, so he had to make a solo album to make the down payment.
That would be "Garcia," which was released in 1972. One of the songs from that album was "The Wheel." Have a listen.
The couple produced the $20,000 — paid for by the advance on the upcoming album — with two days to spare before the closing date fell through.
They called the place "Sans Souci," or "without worry" in French.
The photo shows what the living room looks like today.
Raising a Family
This is where Jerry and Carolyn raised their three daughters, Trixie, Annabelle, and Sunshine (daughter of Carolyn and Ken Kesey) for time.
According to realtor.com, the couple also had several pets, including a horse and a crow.
Jerry's Long, Strange Love Life
Jerry and Carolyn, pictured above, had a complicated, on-and-off-again relationship throughout the 1970s. They married in 1981, mostly for tax purposes, but lived mostly separate lives in different states (her in Oregon, him in California). They officially divorced in 1994.
Prior to that, in 1990, Jerry married Manasha Matheson, and they were together until 1993. In 1994, Jerry married Deborah Koons, who became his widow after his death in 1995. Koons was Garcia's fourth wife.
His first wife was Sara Ruppenthal. They were married from 1963 to 1967 and had one daughter together.
Garcia reportedly played with other famous musicians like Bob Dylan and John Lennon here and founded the short-lived bluegrass group, Old and In the Way, on these grounds, according to realtor.com.
Garcia's old studio is pictured here. While it has been converted, the door is original to when Garcia owned the property.
The Original Door
The thick wooden door to the studio was "crafted with brass inlay by a local artisan," according to realtor.com.
We wonder if Garcia had this commissioned. He and Carolyn purchased the home from a retired pilot, so it's probable.
Jerry Garcia's Home Studio: Now
As it stands now, the former recording studio doesn't resemble where Jerry and various famous musicians recorded their songs 50 years ago.
Hey, you can't stop progress. And that door keeps truckin'.
Where 'A Signpost to New Space' Was Born
The 1.1-acre property is located near Mount Tamalpais State Park and has views of the Pacific Ocean and the Bolinas.
It has four bedrooms, and four-and-a-half bathrooms with around 2,100 square feet of living space.
It's also where the Rolling Stone interview-turned-book, "Garcia: A Signpost to New Space" was conducted.
The Grateful Dead lived in a few different places when they were young and still unmarried.
One of those places was a large pink house in Watts, located next to a brothel (that seems to have since been demolished). Another was an unassuming house in Oakland.
Above, from left to right: Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Brent Mydland, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir. The file is undated, but appears to be in the 1970s.
The photos for this house suck, but the story doesn't.
This 3,585-square-foot Mediterranean-style house in the Piedmont Pines neighborhood of Oakland was located at 6024 Ascot Drive and rented by Owsley "Bear" Stanley, the Grateful Dead's acid supplier/maker, soundman and financier. Owsley made enough money dealing LSD that he could pay for the band's rent, food and clothes when they lived in Los Angeles.
"Owsley had a lot of beliefs that were questionable, but in his mind, they were unquestionable truths," Kruetzmann writes in his book, "Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead."
"He told us he could talk to electronics, mentally talk to them, like people talk to plants. He talked to electronics and chemical compounds. And for all I could ever tell, they actually listened."
Living With Owsley
In 1968, Owsley took over the lease of this place, and lived here until 1970, until he went to prison for a couple of years. It was originally rented by the Ali Akbar Khan school of music.
Rhoney Gissen, Owsley's LSD assistant, describes Owsley's house in her book "Owsley and Me: My LSD Family."
"Indian music gave me clarity, so I drove to the Ali Akbar Khan School Of Music, situated in a beautiful Spanish-style multilevel house with arts-and-crafts detailing in the secluded hills of Oakland, southeast of Berkeley. While I was listening to a morning raga played by Khansahib with Vince Delgado on tabla, it occurred to me that this place would be perfect for Bear. With all the rooms and levels, he could live here with any member of the Grateful Dead family. Ramrod had already agreed to live with Bear when he moved."
A Merry Group of Musicians
Along with Owsley and Gissen, Grateful Dead producers Betty and Bob Matthews lived downstairs.
Head roadie Laurence "Ramrod" Shurtliff moved in near Owsley's bedroom.
And Weir camped out in the living room.
Serving Up Cow
While you probably didn't have to pay to eat when you were living with Owsley, you would have to make some rather odd compromises.
"To feed us, Owsley would buy huge sections of cow, like the entire rump and topside. Literally. Raw and uncut," Kreutzmann writes. "He'd plop that f---er right in the refrigerator. ... Owsley believed — religiously, scientifically, whatever — in a strict meat-eater diet. Carnivorous to the core. He never ate vegetables or cereal or pasta or yogurt or fruit or cheese. He never ate salads. No greens. No carbohydrates. He only ate meat."
Owsley died in 2011, but not because of his diet. At the age of 76, he was involved in a fatal car crash in Australia.
Owsley Was Arrested Here
Owsley crafted his five million hits of LSD at a house in Richmond, California, and in Denver Colorado, and not here. Which is a good thing, because cops visited this place and busted him in 1970.
Owsley had just been arrested during the Grateful Dead's big drug bust in New Orleans on Jan. 30. He faced serious time, but the charges were dropped. Until the cops busted him at this house on July 15 with Betty and Bob for possession of marijuana.
The judge gave him a $70,000 bail and required him to show assets worth that amount, which was impossible. He spent two years in prison.
A Trippy Bathroom
The home was built in 1932 and has an absolutely trippy bathroom.
It's impossible to say whether or not this bathroom is original to the home during the time that Owsley lived here, but it sure looks like it could be.
The home was sold three times in the past 22 years and last sold for $1.235 million in 2012.
Step Down for Your Bath
It features this bonkers, Mayan-sacrifice-looking walk-down tub.
Which, to be fair, was probably a good idea to the owners who installed it.
Because they were almost certainly high on acid.
The Band Played Together for 30 Years
After thirty years of making music, the Grateful Dead, once the house band of the 1960s counterculture, broke up in 1995.
They disbanded four months after the death of its guiding spirit, Jerry Garcia.
Phil Lesh's Fixer-Upper
Grateful Dead co-founder Phil Lesh is one of the richest members of The Grateful Dead, with an estimated net worth of $50 million.
In 2015, he dropped some of that cash — about 4.35 million — on 16.7 acres of land in Ross, California (which is also located in Marin County).
Touch of Grey
The property is called Stags Lair and features a large barn and a 3,268-square-foot house.
It's old and run-down — even the old listing said the property is a "project."
It's not yet an American beauty, but Lesh seems to be up to the task.
About two years after buying the property, he filed for a building permit to demolish the barn and construct a new 5,088-square-foot house, a pool house, a new swimming pool and a lily pond on the property.
Fire on the Mountain
The house is located high in the hills with awesome views of the mountains and the San Rafael Bay. The property has only been up for sale once in 75 years.
Lesh has been part of several Dead offshoots and bands after the band broke up following Garcia's death. Notably, Phil Lesh and Friends, which features a revolving door of musicians.
Phil is the oldest member of the band, and at 80 years old, he still plays when he wants.
The Sky Was Yellow, and the Sun Was Blue
It's a beautiful property and looks like a fantastic place to read. Which reminds us of a Phil Lesh story: Lesh once snuck into Ken Kesey's house and read part of Kesey's manuscript of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" before it was published.
This was before Kesey published the classic piece of literature, and most people knew him for his Band of Merry Pranksters and all the acid.
"Kesey's a really good writer," Lesh told Kreuzmann, as the drummer recalls in his biography.
Keeping the Old House
Public records show that Lesh is turning the old main house into a guest house.
We're sure this needs a lot of work, but it is really cool.
It kind of looks like Shel Silverstein's houseboat, only on land.
Creating Something Grander
The house is something straight out of 1950 (as it should) and doesn't appear to have been updated since then, which is the year it was built.
It also is something of a departure for Lesh, who is accustomed to large, very expensive homes.
Phil Lesh's $10 Million Mansion
Like this house. Records indicate Lesh bought the home in Ross in 2002 for $9.35 million and then put it up for sale in 2015 for $10.35 million.
It sold for $9.925 million in 2016.
The house features four fireplaces, hardwood floors and 7,850 square feet of living space.
A Happy Couple
Lesh and his wife, Jill, got married in 1982 and have been longtime residents of Ross.
Lesh grew up in Berkeley, California, and joined the Grateful Dead when he was in his mid-20s.
The kitchen is large and functional, with a reflective tiled backsplash, huge stove and large kitchen island with room for chairs.
In 2015, Lesh underwent bladder cancer surgery and successfully recovered.
He last toured with the remaining Dead members (and others) during the Fare Thee Well tour, which ran from June 27 to July 5 in 2015, and celebrated 50 years of the Grateful Dead.
The tour had five shows and made over $52 million.
Billy Kruetzmann's House
Billy Kruetzmann, the band's hard-partying drummer, bought this mansion in Malibu, California, in the late 1990s for $761,000.
He lived here for about a decade before selling it for $2.5 million.
A Five-String Banjo
Kreutzmann has lived in Hawaii for a long while now, choosing to retire at an even sunnier side of the United States.
Kreutzmann first met Jerry at his father's house in Palo Alto, when Jerry bought Kreutzmann's father's five-string banjo for $15.
Jerry was 16. Kruetzmann was 12.
Moving to Hawaii
Kreutzmann and Jerry vacationed in Hawaii, and both developed a love for diving. Jerry especially loved being underwater. The two promised that if or when the Grateful Dead ended, the two would retire to Hawaii.
Keeping the Promise
After Jerry's death, Kreutzmann bought a house on the island of Kauai.
Box of Rain
The master bedroom has a marble fireplace with a gas-lit fire, vaulted ceiling and sliding doors leading outside.
The Master Bathroom
The master bathroom features a large soaking tub nestled next to a huge picture window overlooking the pool.
Country-Style Kitchen in Malibu
The country-style kitchen features herringbone-patterned wood floors, marble countertops, a large farmhouse sink and stainless steel appliances that no longer have to house giant slabs of raw cow.
Fare Thee Well
Kreutzmann, Weir, Mickey Hart John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Cimenti formed Dead and Company in 2015 and are still active today.
They were planning a 2020 summer tour before a global public health crisis changed those plans.
The Jam Never Ends
Chances are they'll be back. For now, enjoy their classic live show in 1978 to close the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco.