Every Grateful Dead fan has their origin story -- here's Fare Thee Well producer Pete Shapiro's.
Pete Shapiro, 42, is a rock 'n roll renaissance man, with a broad, diverse portfolio of music biz endeavors that includes venues (Capitol Theatre, Brooklyn Bowl), festivals (Lokn'), publishing (Relix), rock docs (U23D), and, in his highest-profile endeavor to date, producer/promoter as the man who managed to re-unite the Grateful Dead for the Fare Thee Well 50th Anniversary concerts which begin this weekend at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., and culminates July 4th weekend with a three-day blowout at Chicago's Soldier Field that could be the biggest single band concert in history. Above all, Shapiro is a self-avowed Deadhead, and below, in his own words, is the tale of the Dead show that sent him down the Golden Road that led to Fare Thee Well.
My whole career started from going to a Grateful Dead show in March of 1993 at Rosemont Horizon (near Chicago) on a snowy night. During the show, my head went to a certain place, and then they brought on Ken Nordine to do a spoken word, and I went to another place, and had to leave. I found myself in the parking lot, it was snowing, and I walked into a drum circle. Here I was, an upper middle class kid from New York City in Chicago as a film student at Northwestern, and there I saw kids like me -- but they were not going back to school. And they were not going home. They were on the road, following the Dead. I stayed up all night, and I was at the door of the library at Northwestern at 8 am the next day. I started doing research on what documentary films had been done about this Deadhead culture, because I had been to concerts, but I had never seen anything like that. Here was a group of people living on tour with the band, a traveling circus, and I saw it with my eyes open real wide, ‘holy shit.’ Three months later, I was living in a van with a video camera, and another film student and I made a documentary film called And Miles to Go. I couldn’t even get the band to do an interview to be in my movie. That’s how far I’ve come!