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Released Tuesday, “Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead” spans Kreutzmann’s 2,300-plus concerts he has performed in and the wild stories behind the scenes.
“It’s a story about me playing drums all my life in relation to many, many things,” Kreutzmann said over the phone Wednesday. “It’s from my point-of-view, from how I saw things going down in different bands in different periods of my life. It’s hard to say what the book’s all about because it is 400 pages.”
But a drummer writing a book?
After all the years playing with the Grateful Dead and more, Kreutzmann has plenty of stories to share.
“I had all these different tales from throughout my life,” he said. “I had them unorganized all over my mind in different places. I would go out with friends and we would start talking and I’d start telling these stories. They told me to write them down. This went on for a while and I knew I didn’t have the ability myself to write the book. Finally, I found a writer.”
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That writer is Benjy Eisen.
“He did an interview with me,” Kreutzmann said. “He was working for ‘Rolling Stone’ at the time. He reported what I said accurately, which is very important. That was how I found my writer and I was able to start working.”
Eisen traveled to Kreutzmann’s home in Hawaii and the two set up dates and times to work together on the book.
It wasn’t always that easy for Kreutzmann to share some of the parts of this unflinching account of his life.
“When you lose people who you are very close to in life, it’s very hard (to discuss),” he said. “It brings up all those memories again. Those aren’t the happiest times in life. When you have to go through that, even though it’s in the past and a long time ago, you still hold those memories and those experiences with those people. Those times were hard.”
But it wasn’t all downtimes for the 69-year-old drummer.
“I got through my life with how much I really, really loved music and how important music is in this world,” Kreutzmann said. “How lucky it is that I get to play music for people and get them to be happy? I take joy from it. That’s a big deal. That’s really an important thing in life.”
With the release of the book, Kreutzmann has hit the road on a nationwide book tour, which is a new experience he’s looking forward to.
“I get to meet the people,” he said. “In the concerts, they’re faces in the crowd. It’s great to hear them sing, smile and be happy, but here I actually get to talk to them and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ That’s really great for me. I always had the drumset between me and you and the drumset was always a lot louder than you were. This way I get to actually interact with fans and Dead Heads.”
The tour kicked off Tuesday night in New York City and will swing by the Philadelphia area at the end of the week, including Barnes & Noble on Walnut Street in Philadelphia May 11.
As part of the stop, the two will have a talk before the book signing.
“I didn’t want to just do a book signing,” Kreutzmann said. “You’re only getting to talk to one person at a time and you can’t spend that much time with them. You sign the book, ‘Thank you, thank you,’ and they move on. We’re going to speak for 40 minutes before we do the signing. We will talk about any topic that comes to mind. The last few minutes will be question and answer. People can ask whatever they want. I’m sure now that the book is out, there will be a lot more questions.”
All of these things going on in Kreutzmann’s life, including the highly anticipated Grateful Dead 50th anniversary Fare Thee Well shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field, has kept him on the go.
“It’s just amazing to have all these things going on in my life right now,” he said. “It has been a tremendous year for me. The book coming out couldn’t have been better timing.”
All are welcome to the book signing at Stetson Middle School and Kreutzmann said he’ll be on his best behavior.
“I promise I won’t put anybody in detention or have them stay after school,” he joked. “Unless they want to talk about things.”