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Extended Audio Sample Searching for the Sound: My Life in the Grateful Dead, by Phil Lesh Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (861 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Phil Lesh Narrator: Phil Lesh Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Phil Lesh first met Jerry Garcia in 1959 in the clubs of Palo Alto, California. At Garcia's suggestion, Lesh learned to play the electric bass and joined him in a new group that blended R & B, country, and rock 'n' roll with an experimental fervor never before heard.

In time for the Grateful Dead's fortieth anniversary, Phil Lesh offers the first behind-the-scenes history of the Dead. Lesh chronicles how the Dead's signature sound emerged, flowed, and swelled to reach millions of devoted fans, from their first gigs at Frenchy's Bikini-A-Go-Go for an audience of three, to the legendary Acid Tests, to packed stadiums around the world.

In San Francisco during the Summer of Love, at Woodstock, Altamont, and the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Grateful Dead have been at the center of some of rock's defining moments. Phil Lesh recounts what it's been like to live at the heart of this whirlwind--impressing Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, sharing the stage with Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and the Rolling Stones. Lesh describes what it was like to storm heaven night after night--and the price he and others have paid. Bad management, drug addictions, depression, and insecurities persistently plagued the band members and would culminate with the most tragic blow of all--the death of Jerry Garcia.

Searching for the Sound is a ruthlessly honest look inside one of the greatest American bands. It includes a bonus live recording of Box of Rain performed on March 19, 1990 at the Hartford Civic Center, Hartford Connecticut.

Look for The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics 1965-1995 available in hardcover October, 2005 from Free Press.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Lesh proves to be as capable and enthusiastic a writer as he is a musician; whether he’s describing the ‘immense, turbulent, druidic’ snoring of Jerry Garcia, the ‘saber-toothed crotch cricket’ hum of the Woodstock sound system or a roadtrip travel game called ‘Radio I-Ching,’ he consistently exhibits a peculiar and poetic fondness for language, transforming what could have been a routine exercise in nostalgia into a work as graceful and sublime as a box of rain.” 

    New York Times

  • “Energetic and flawed…Lesh infuses his prose with his wacky personality…honest, intimate remembrances.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Conversational, intimate, informative, and candid…totally satisfying…a welcome addition.” 

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “A literate piece of rock history by a genuinely historic figure in rock music.” 


  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Dan Hogan | 2/17/2014

    " granted the writing, for the most part, is sub-par, i really enjoyed this book. being a huge fan of the dead since i was younger, i was completely fascinated by lesh's insight on the band's development musically and spiritually. my favorite period of the band's career was it's inception in '65 until about 1973, when wake of the flood< was released. While the remainder of the music from the 70s was good, I think that their earlier period was most interesting (as is often the case), mainly due to their constant experimentation and evolution from genre to genre, while still maintaining their own unique sound and vision. it seems that much of the blame can be placed on drug use, which really pushed the members apart from one another, in terms of why they fell apart musically. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Nick | 2/11/2014

    " Surprisingly fast-paced and compact (from a member of the Grateful Dead), this book gives an awesomely trippy account of the band's heady early days, the peak of their musicianship in the early 1970s, their drug-fueled decline and resurgence during the 1980s til Garcia's death. A must-read for fans and an interesting read for those not on the bus. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Ms. Falzon | 2/7/2014

    " I love the Grateful Dead and always wonder what it would have been like to see them play live. By reading this book, I feel as though I have somewhat more of an understanding of what it must have been like. I have read some memoirs by "non-writers" that fell flat, but Phil really makes his time with the band come alive. As he describes live shows, jam sessions, recording, I could almost hear certain songs being played. I love that he speaks with honesty, not highlighting nor ignoring his or his band mates' faults or strengths, but creating an accurate (it seems) picture of a group of real people, just like all of us, who just happened to be in a 30-year "search for the sound." As a side note, being obsessed with the 1950's literary and social counterculture as I am, it was great to read about familiar characters (Ken Kesey, Neil Cassidy, Janis Joplin, etc) from a fresh point of view. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Glenn Van | 1/29/2014

    " A thorough book given the short number of pages from beginning to end. Lesh takes the story from the very beginning of his interest in music and his meeting up with Jerry Garcia. The book does not stray form the main concept of music and expanding their sound, which created a cult like following. "

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