Amazon made the announcement Wednesday ahead of the world premiere of “Long Strange Trip” at the Sundance Film Festival. Band members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, and Bob Weir will be in attendance, as well as Trixie Garcia, daughter of the band’s founder and lead guitarist Jerry Garcia.
Weir said, “Over several decades a group of guys hung together making music in a group that was way tighter and lasted much longer than most marriages. Here’s the movie…”
Hart added, “Stranger than fiction — a user’s guide for an impossible journey.”
The documentary, directed by Amir Bar-Lev and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, has been in the works since 2003 when Bar-Lev first reached out to band members. Bar-Lev’s credits include “The Tillman Story” and “Happy Valley.”
The band first performed as the Warlocks on May 5, 1965, at Magoo’s Pizza in Menlo Park, Calif. The Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995 following the death of Garcia. Garcia was acclaimed for combining blues, rock, and psychedelic elements with a mastery of improvisational guitar. He pointed to a 1961 traffic accident — in which he was thrown from the car — as the turning point in his commitment to music.
The title of the documentary is taken from the refrain “What a long strange trip it’s been” of the band’s signature song “Truckin.'” The song was released on their 1970 album “American Beauty” and recognized in 1997 by the United States Library of Congress as a national treasure.
“By inventing a unique fusion of folk, jazz, R&B, avant-garde experimentation, world music and rock and roll, they earned the devotion of the most committed fan base in the music business, while gleefully disdaining every cliché of pop success,” Amazon said Wednesday.
“Long Strange Trip” is produced by Eric Eisner, Nick Koskoff, and Alex Blavatnik, who also financed the project. Additional producers include Ken Dornstein and Justin Kreutzmann. Executive producers in addition to Scorsese are Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Rick Yorn, Andrew Heller, Sanford Heller, Thomas J. Mangan IV, Alicia Sams along with band members Hart, Kreutzmann, Weir and bassist Phil Lesh.
“I’ve always admired the spirit and creativity of the Grateful Dead,” said Scorsese. “They are revolutionary artists who forever changed the world of touring and recording live music. They were a cultural force—a lifestyle, that continue to influence new generations of fans.”
The deal was negotiated by WME Global on behalf of the filmmakers.