When the Grateful Dead surfaced in San Francisco in the mid-1960s, with their psychedelic imagery and mass following of Dead Heads, they spearheaded a new and rebellious counterculture that joyfully rejected mainstream America.
The Dead were an unlikely blend of talents, from the folk roots of Jerry Garcia to the blues of Rod "Pigpen" McKernan, to the innovative bass playing of Phil Lesh and the inventive percussion of Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann. Their early, experimental album "Anthem of the Sun" bewildered and frustrated their record company, but The Dead's music evolved with the changes in their personal lives and in 1970 they produced "American Beauty", an acoustic album of outstanding folk-based melodies. As Mickey Hart says: "We were coming out of our space suit and….planting our feet firmly back on earth".
This film charts how The Dead evolved from "Anthem" to "Beauty", and examines how these very different were made. It includes rare footage of the Dead in their prime from TV appearances and recording sessions to home videos as well as extensive interviews with band members, lyricist Robert Hunter and many musicians from the era.