Although the mental image of a Dead Head is a long-haired, marijuana-smoking, tree-hugging, ambition-less burnout, a recent survey revealed that many of the Grateful Dead’s “most ardent fans” are currently bringing in around $100,000 annually.
The survey, which polled 1,000 random people regarding the Grateful Dead, was commissioned by Gordon Hensley. Hensley is a seasoned Republican operative: He worked on Ronald Reagan’s campaign as well as the National Republican Senatorial Committee, but the most surprising bullet-point on his resume is his attendance at 187 Grateful Dead shows between 1977 and 1995. The idea for this poll manifested at a Bob Weir & RatDog concert after Hensley met with then-Senator Norm Coleman, where they discussed his upcoming bid for re-election in Minnesota, Woodstock and Coleman’s past life as a roadie. Coleman eventually lost his re-election bid, but not all was lost because the winner, Al Franken, is also an admitted Dead Head. As different as Coleman and Franken are, so too are Dead Heads. Hensley’s survey found that both sides of the aisle have their fair share of Grateful Dead enthusiasts.
The poll also found that the Grateful Dead are more popular than most politicians. Which is not that surprising, since most things are. Nearly 40-percent of those surveyed expressed a favorable opinion of the Dead, while only 16-percent feel that way about politicians.
While Dead Heads may not all fit the hippie stereotype or vote in unison, it is good to know that the general welcoming atmosphere of the community has not faded like those tie-dyes of yesteryear.