After years of keeping the band's considerable legacy on the down-low in terms of merchandise and licensing, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead are ramping things up. As the L.A. Times explains today, that doesn't mean you'll see Dead-emblazoned maxi pads or rolling papers -- and it doesn't mean you'll hear "Truckin'" in every goddamn car commercial ever.
What it does mean is that you'll see things like Grateful Dead snowboards and Grateful Dead wine, and hear its songs more in films. In a lengthy piece today, Times writer Melinda Newman goes behind the scenes to band members themselves and the guys at Rhino Records who manage the era-defining San Francisco group's commercial presence. There's a lot of good stuff in the story, but here are five things any Dead fan should take away from it:
1. Unlike Kiss -- which Newman says has licensed over 3,000 pieces of merchandise --there will never be a Grateful Dead casket. The band members will only allow items that, as member Mickey Hart says, "promote life." (Which means no sanitary napkins, either.)
2. All four surviving band members, plus Jerry Garcia's estate, have to approve any licensing or merchandise deal, and the band will only be doing about 15 new products per year.
3. The Grateful Dead is releasing a 73-CD boxed set of its complete live recordings from the Europe 1972 tour. Yes, you read that right: 73 CDs. It costs a mere $450.
4. In order to prove his sincerity to the band members about the new licensing efforts, Rhino's senior vice president of Grateful Dead Properties, Mark Pinkus -- himself a vet of 73 Dead shows -- volunteered to sing any song the band members could name. Hart named "Victim or the Crime." Pinkus did it, and won the members' trust.
5. Of all the Grateful Dead songs, "Truckin'" is the most-requested by potential licensees.
Check out the full L.A. Times story.