“We were trying to make a real record for Clive,” says Hart.Starting in January 1977, the band and Olsen bore down on new material – including the epic “Terrapin Station” suite and Weir’s reggae-influenced “Estimated Prophet” – at Sound City, the funky but first-rate San Fernando Valley studio recently immortalized in Dave Grohl’s documentary.More so than probably any previous studio collaborator, Olsen put the bandmates through their paces, making them rehearse and replay parts until they nailed them. So he got away with a few things.” Although he got high with Garcia on at least one occasion, Olsen didn’t become fully acclimated to the Dead universe until the later wrap-up sessions in New York, when Belushi came by, did cartwheels in the studio and hung out.Normally, the Dead would have bristled, but not this time: “Keith was cracking the whip, but we liked it – it made us sharper,” says Hart. “He drank everything he could and took everything and then passed out in front of the console,” Olsen says.Their attempt at running their own record label, Grateful Dead Records, had floundered and left them in the hole when label head Ron Rakow skipped town with the 5,000 he felt was owed to him.Rex Jackson, a member of the Dead’s hardworking, hard-rocking crew, had died in a car accident in September 1976.But Deadheads who caught the Palladium shows witnessed a startling sight: a firm and focused Grateful Dead.“We came out really strong,” says percussionist Mickey Hart of those and other shows on the band’s spring ’77 tour.
As the recording sessions started to drag throughout the winter of 1977 – and the band faced the possibility of not finishing the record before going on tour – Steve Parish, a member of the crew (and later Garcia’s manager), came up with a novel idea: Nail the studio door shut. “But we were under the gun, and it kept the guys in there.” The finished album, , was the Dead’s most polished, professional effort to date, foreign adjectives that didn’t necessarily thrill everyone in the band.Institutions range from the Library of Congress to many local public libraries.As a whole, this collection of material brings holdings that cover many facets of American life and scholarship into the public domain.Bikers, blow and Belushi: As usual when the Grateful Dead took Manhattan, the band’s five-night stand at the Palladium in April 1977 had them all.Hells Angels rode their hogs right into the dressing rooms, brandishing a knife and demanding they play “Truckin.” John Belushi, in his heyday, popped into a dressing room to share some weed.