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Old 16 February 2007, 08:05 PM
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DawnStorm DawnStorm is offline
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Icon07 Origin of the Grateful Dead's name

Didn't know whether to put this here or in the Entertainment folder.
Anyway, I heard a few years ago on an FM station that the Grateful Dead took their name from a piece of folklore that defines a grateful dead as a ghost/spirit who was thankful that a still-living person helped him with something/resolved an issue that enabled him (the ghost) to rest in peace.
Anyone else heard of this phrase outside of the band?
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Old 16 February 2007, 08:09 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
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[edit] Choosing a name
The name "Grateful Dead" was chosen from a dictionary. Some claim it was a Funk & Wagnalls, others, the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book Of the Dead), but according to Phil Lesh, in his biography (pp. 62), "...Jer (Garcia) picked up an old Britannica World Language Dictionary...(and)...In that silvery elf-voice he said to me, 'Hey, man, how about the Grateful Dead?'" The definition there was "A song meant to show a lost soul to the other side." [15] According to the Garcia biography, Captain Trips by Sandy Troy, the band was smoking the psychedelic DMT at the time.
From Wikipedia, admittedly not a reliable source.
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Old 16 February 2007, 08:11 PM
Traveler in Black
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A folklorist friend once showed me an encyclopedia of folklore with a section called "The Grateful Dead." Afraid I don't know the source, though.
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Old 16 February 2007, 08:36 PM
RBCal RBCal is offline
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Another possible source

"We now return our souls to the creator, as we stand on the edge of eternal darkness.
Let our chant fill the void in order that others may know.
In the land of the night the ship of the sun is drawn by the grateful dead."
-- Egyptian Book of the Dead
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Old 16 February 2007, 11:01 PM
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I thought the band name was "Grateful Deed" (some 60's slang about free sex I think), but the record company misspelled the name on their first album. The band was too stoned to notice until their third album, but by then, it was too late...
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Old 17 February 2007, 05:37 AM
Troberg Troberg is offline
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When you have figured out the origins of the name for the band, perhaps you can find out the origins of the name Grateful Dead in this case?
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Old 17 February 2007, 03:53 PM
Lady Moon
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I always thought it came from the Bible.

Revelation 9.6

"During those days men will seek death, but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them."

I was told that that referred to the 'grateful' dead -- those that when death finally arrived, were so thankful for it that they welcomed it with open arms.

Lady Moon
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Old 17 February 2007, 04:57 PM
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Ramblin' Dave Ramblin' Dave is offline
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Every explanation I've ever heard has had something to do with lost souls who were shown the way to heaven. I can't recall what the entity was who led them there, but they were grateful to someone or something, hence the name.
Incidentally, they were originally called The Warlocks, but they had to change the name because there were two other bands also using that name, one in El Paso and one in New York. In the end, neither of those other bands kept the name either - they switched to ZZ Top and The Velvet Underground, respectively.
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Old 17 February 2007, 09:44 PM
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RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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The accounts I heard back in the sixties matched Wikipedia: a band member saw the name in a reference book and liked the sound of it.
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Old 18 February 2007, 12:22 AM
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PatYoung PatYoung is offline
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Same here. Heard it from many people who apparently at heard one or the other band member interviewed on the subject. All sort of random and then they just liked the way it sounded.

For our parents, the name led to confusion of the Dead with the Heavy Metal bands getting underway a little bit later.
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Old 18 February 2007, 11:54 PM
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Cervus Cervus is offline
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It's kind of pointless to ask a rock musician about the origin or meaning of their band name, lyrics, or song. They'll usually make up some elaborate answer to satisfy fans and journalists, but the real answer is always "It just sounded good."
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