BILL GATTI is originally from Chicago and currently lives in Massachusetts. Having attended Grateful Dead shows beginning in the 80s all the way through the last shows at Soldier Field in 1995, Gatti, considered an authority on many dimensions of the band and its music, brings a strong background to the work of Grateful Dead consumption and criticism, and is known to insiders as something of a Grateful Dead savant. He has published lyrics with The Freddy Jones Band, out of Chicago, where he ran a publishing concern for several years. This is his first appearance in the Brooklyn Rail.
Peter Conners’ book, Cornell ’77 The Music, The Myth, and the Magnificence of the Grateful Dead’s Concert at Barton Hall is out in time for the fortieth anniversary of the show. And like the collective gasp heard throughout the Deadhead community when the “Betty Boards” (reel-to-reel soundboard tapes of the Grateful Dead originally recorded by Betty Cantor-Jackson between 1971-80; more on that to come) were released in the late 1980s (the Barton Hall show among them), it’s high time we have a bit more context around the debate over what legions of Heads consider the greatest show the band ever played on the one hand and what others consider merely a well-played but over-rated show on the other.