Grateful Dead Jukebox Musical In Works

Posted on 28 November 2011 by Rich Drees

The music of the Grateful Dead may be featured in a jukebox musical, much in the same way that director Julie Taymor’s Across The Universe was built around in the song catalog of the Beatles.

ICM literary agent Bruce Kaufman has just secured the rights to the seminal jam band’s musical catalog and is looking to put together a package of talent that would create a musical around those songs much in the same way he was the behind-the-scenes motivator for Across The Universe.

Deadline, who broke the story, stated that “the expectation is that the music will be used not for a biopic, but rather a film that captures that psychedelic Haight-Ashbury hippie spirit of the late 60s and early 70s.”

Dead fans who may be worried that this may be a quick cash grab off of the band’s legacy may find some condolence in the fact that Kaufman is working with Grateful Dead archivist David Lenieux and the manager of Grateful Dead Properties Mark Pinkus on the project.

On the surface, this certainly does seem like a good idea. And I think that the Dead is a band that automatically invokes the 1960s, even as they continued to perform into the 1990s. But while the Dead certainly are one of the most famous bands on the planet, I question whether their catalog contains enough hits to fill a film’s narrative. A project like this is going to need to rely on a number of hits and can non-Dead fans even name more than three or four songs from the band? I know that I can’t and I used to DJ classic rock, including the music of t he Dead, for three years in college. They have the name recognition, but I doubt they have the hit recognition needed to make this film appealing to the general public.

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