Today we are talking about one of the grateful dead members Steve Parish sometimes known as Big Steve Parish

For a long time, Dead Roadie and a member of the family were discussing over the years being repeatedly asked by Authorities…”Who is in charge here!?” Parish eventually found the Truth of the matter and spoke Clearly and Matter of Factly “The situation is in charge”.

That could be a broken Carburetor on one of the buses, a Guitar amp malfunctioning, anything you could think of on a major tour that inevitably occurred.

Why? The Grateful Dead as a Band was only in charge of the music from day one. The Deadheads that followed them in ever-increasing number over the decades were only ever dictated to by the Band when things took a wrong turn.

I specifically remember one-morning buying tickets as doors opened at the music store and each of us was given not only a Ticket but a letter from the band. The long and short of it was a lack of responsibility by newcomers and we were warned that we must police our areas and deal with people who were literally destroying the ability of the Band to continue touring at live music events.

The worst thing that could have ever happened did in 1987 with the release of “In the Dark” and a single called “Touch of Grey” followed by a music video on MTV. The Album was a hit Touch of Grey” reached number nine on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and rightly so. The unforeseen ramifications would become evident later.  The Grateful Dead’s true magic was over decades they were a great bunch of Bands. By the 1980’s they had worked all the incarnations into their show.

Grateful Dead Remastered Full Album Workingman’s Dead

The skillfully crafted songs from “Working Man’s Dead” were presented in the same concert alongside the earlier Psychedelia of “The Other One” or “Saint Stephen”.

Then you had the “Drums and Space” segment which was not only a throwback to the earliest Tribal thought but very much in the now. When that section ran it’s the course you never knew what beautiful Ballad might follow and what would be played through the remainder of the show.

There was something for everyone’s taste in their body of work and in any given concert. Unpredictability kept us returning to shows, as no 2 shows were the same. What did become Predictable was Trouble.

Discovering the Grateful Dead

I discovered the Deads music in the early ’80s and was a fan but did not attend a show until 1991 on a Summer tour at the Legend Valley Ohio venue now renamed Buckeye Lake Music center. This was a location where The band and fans enjoyed the outdoors, the trees, and camping and was a bit of a safe haven from the Darkness being reported from other states where you were in a stadium concrete Jungle scenario. So My First show was one of my fondest memories of life.

One year later in 1992, I got my first taste of what had been reported on since the mid-’80s. It was not an escalation of the degree in other places, but there was a change waving in the air like a flag. It was Red White and Blue alright, but it was coming from Police cars on the Highway. I had worked that day until 4 p.m and left on the trip to Newark, Ohio.

I was smart enough to have had a full gas tank as I was in crawling and sometimes stopped altogether traffic. I had Short Hair, was well dressed, and had no signs of belonging to this tribe.

I was also stone-cold sober as I watched VW buses and Dayglo-painted vehicles being tossed of all contents as State Highway Patrolmen searched hundreds of vehicles and made their arrests. On Arrival at the Parking lot, I missed most of the set one due to the delays.

I still felt good about it as Set two was always when the most interesting things happened on the stage. I could not shake this bad vibe after entering. I had arranged to meet up in a general area near the medical tent.

When you are dealing with a crowd of 60 thousand, you plan general ideas as precise was not in the realm of reason. I met my first troublemaker.

The kind that was self-induced into the society because of the success of 1986’s growth of popularity. They came for the party, they heard one album and decided they were entitled to behave however they wished because they felt it was a lawless floating city. Violence was a rare event but the behavior of this particular breed of people sometimes called for it.

I asked a practically naked Dreadlocked white kid a simple question. “which way is the Medical Tent? is it on the left or right side of the stage?” I didn’t get an answer, I got verbally attacked and Lectured by someone younger than myself and I began to simply walk away. 

Never try and have an intelligent conversation or battle of wits with an unarmed person I thought. He is following me and still screaming “Go to green peace next time if you don’t need medical attention you don’t need to go near a Medical tent”.

I stopped and finger in his face said “I asked you a question, you are giving me a lecture and you can stop right now”. I keep walking away and my shadow is still in tow. I happened to walk by a police officer in the crowd and finally had to put an end to this.

I explained to the officer what was transpiring and asked if he preferred to deal with this maniac, or if he wanted to look the other way as I was prepared to go ahead and render the guy unable to talk because he would be too busy picking up his broken teeth and would then be showing me where the medical tent was by default.

The officer smiled and said, “I got it, try and enjoy the rest of the show.”  I found that after 30 mins I still could not shake the strange feelings, so After Drums and Space I left. 4  hours to get there, 45 minutes home.

I did not let it deter me from attending the final 2 years of 93 and 94 and both times things were positive again, even in the great Rain of the final year. There was much Joy and great music. 

There was a division the media never got. It was not the Band that made an event a success or a riot. It was the people. Granted Policemen on Horses bashing hippies in the skull was a bit much to take as often they were not the individuals causing the problem they just became victims of the situation.  And once again “THE SITUATION was in Charge. 

Documentary about Grateful Dead Fans-Deadheads

I am closing off with this Documentary about Grateful Dead Fans and would like to say In the past few years we have been given the chance to stay in the now but relive some of the best aspects of the Grateful Dead show of our time By The Touring of Dead and Company and unfortunately, with the ever-present reminder we lost Jerry Garcia in 1995, Dead and Company have brought the magic back to us In a meaningful way. I’m also pleased to say the shows are not a nightmare of what’s gonna happen?  There have been lessons learned and applied.

The Grateful Dead Changed the world. The Deadheads wrote the script of the Life. Right now Life is good.  The SITUATION is in charge and it is Smiling.

By Jimmy Flemming

Jimmy Fleming is a Dystonia advocate and Guitarist from Ohio. He authored and co wrote interviews on over 100 articles about guitar and bands on Guitardoor Listen to his latest music and full biography on his website.

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