This week we are featuring a fan site from Europe, the Grateful Dead-themed
site,“www.eyesoftheworld.co.uk”:http://www.eyesoftheworld.co.uk. Bill Pannifer who founded the site talks about
the origins and development of this resource (British spelling left intact)...
Eyes of the World started life in mid-1995 as an email newsletter promoting
local events to a small but Deadicated European community. A few months
later Rick Tooth and I launched Franklin’s Tower, probably the first
internationally-minded GD website.
The aim was to be a focus for activity on this side of the pond, and to
highlight the efforts of Dead-inspired musicians playing in what might seem
the strangest of places, to those who see the band as simply an American
phenomenon. One concern was to publicise the Cosmic Charlies, the UK’s own
Dead band playing London pubs since 1989 and deserving, we thought, of more
attention. Another was to note and promote the variety of homegrown
tributes to Jerry that sprang up within a few months of August 95 in
Finland, France, Germany and elsewhere. There (still) isn’t really a
US-style ‘jamband culture’ here at all but a look at out Bands page will
reveal various groups putting their own spin on the music.
Franklin’s/Eyes listed and sometimes helped organise musical tributes and
celebrations in London, Finland, Paris, Germany, Tokyo and elsewhere. Often
the lineups were international- French, Danish and British bands jamming
together at the Half Moon pub in South London, or the series of events in
Amsterdam. Where possible these are remembered at the site — browse the
archives for pictorial and sometimes musical flashbacks. And look at our
up-to-date Charlies page for the latest gigs, setlists and sounds from
2002. When major US-based bands such as Panic, Phish, Bela Fleck and
others come through, often playing delightfully small venues mainly to an
audience of expats, we try to let people know.
One inspiration was the sadly-missed UK Dead magazine Spiral Light, which
ceased publication around the time we came online. A page unofficially
commemorates this, with a few sample articles. There are also other
reviews and images from shows both here and in the US. Hopefully visitors
will stay and poke around in what aims be an interesting survey/grab-bag of
worldwide Deadstuff past and present— home movie stills from the Dead’s
first UK appearance, a flashback to Ally Pally in 74, Paul McCartney on
the Dead, an interview with the Tokyo Warlocks, and personal takes on US
shows as recent as this year’s Jazzfest.
It’s a shaggy sort of beast by now, in need of a redesign, and some more
recent sites – The Wheel, Eurodead.net, Bathtub of Adventures – offer more
developed community resources. Cofounder Rick has gone on to work with the
invaluable download site GDLive. Reach all these via our updated links
page, which aims to reach a little more widely than usual. Eyes, the
newsletter, itself still goes out to about 700 or so people, whether as a
brief gig list or the occasional 200kb monster edition. With a Ratdog tour
imminent, and a mouthwatering 4CD box set from England 72 on its way, this
is a good time to investigate what’s been happening on the furthur reaches
of the Dead and jamband world. Sometimes the songs that we hear are just
songs of our own.