HOLLYWOOD — Doubleday imprint Broadway Books has won a bidding war for Dennis McNally’s “A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead,” paying six figures for the historical overview of the famed San Francisco rock band.
Eight publishers submitted bids for McNally’s two-decades-in-the-making tome after agent Sarah Lazin sent out 11 copies on July 5. The book, which will be edited by Gerry Howard, is scheduled for an August 2002 release.
McNally, whose first book was the 1979 Jack Kerouac biography “Desolate Angel,” has had a long, strange association with the Dead since 1980, when he and Jerry Garcia discussed a possible book. McNally worked with the band as their publicist while simultaneously penning the book in the early ’80s; in 1986, growing publicity duties forced his writing to end until nearly a year after Garcia’s death on Aug. 9, 1995. He finished the book in May.
“When I started I said I would write it, have the band sign off on it, get an agent and sell it,” McNally said. “I tried to cheat it twice and got burned both times. This time we followed the original script.”
While rock ‘n’ roll books don’t generally storm bestseller lists, the official Grateful Dead book has been long awaited by the band’s legions of fans, many of whom wallow in the group’s minutiae. Few bands have worked as hard the Dead to protect their trademark and image, and the limited access the band provided to writers over the years has kept unauthorized books to a minimum. Only a handful of books have been published on Garcia, the most recent being the 1999 bio “Garcia: An American Life” by Blair Jackson.
The week after McNally finished the work, he wrote a 15,000 word piece on the Dead’s history for Rhino’s upcoming 12-CD overview of the band’s years with Warner Bros. “The Golden Road (1965-1973)” will be released Oct. 16 following a handful of other Dead-related projects.
Mid-September will see the release of the 23rd volume of “Dick’s Picks,” the multi-CD live recordings of Dead shows available through mail-order and the Internet.
On Sept. 25, a third “Vault” series recording will be released, this one from the Oct. 16, 1989, show at the Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. The same day will see the release of the Dead’s classic “American Beauty” in 5.1 Surroundsound (DVD Audio), remixed by Dead drummer Mickey Hart; “Workingman’s Dead” will be issued on DVD Audio in November.