I lost my beloved friend & half of 80sgratefuldead, Sean Pollack, to cancer last week. He jumped onto the magic bus to cross the great divide. If there is a Shakedown Street in the cosmic jet stream, I know Jerry, Brent, Keith and Pigpen will be there to welcome him on tour.
For over 2 years he fought for his life so he could be with his wife and his two teenage boys. To keep going, he listened to the Grateful Dead. As many of us, he found solace and inspiration in the band’s music. Over the last year, we would spend many hours listening and watching the Dead and the Jerry Band.
Sean was a dear friend for over 25 years. He was kind, generous, so smart, wickly funny and such wonderful human being. Hailing from Arizona, he was a lifelong Phoenix Suns fan, who never gave up hope for a championship.
I met Sean in grad school at the University of Michigan in 1994. From the beginning, we bonded over our love of music, especially the Grateful Dead. We both saw our last Dead shows together in 1995 at Auburn Hills. Our last time seeing Jerry sing was the encore of Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. On our way home to Ann Arbor, Sean’s beloved 1976 VW bus died. In some way, it seemed appropriate.
After a couple years apart, our life tours brought us back together in Portland, Oregon. It has been great to have him in my life and being able to see shows in Oregon, like the last time we saw Dead and Co. at Autzen in 2018, Phil & Friends in 2019 and our last show together, the Rolling Stones in 2019 (Seattle). Over the years, Sean and I saw many of the variations of the post-Grateful Dead bands but we also shared our love for so many other bands from the alt-country bands (Wilco, Son Volt, Ryan Adams) to Los Lobos, Allman Brothers, Gillian Welch, Elvis Costello, Steely Dan, the Band and Bob Dylan. We also loved watching subversive comedies and comedians, particularly Kids in the Hall, Python, David Cross, MST3K, Spinal Tap, and the State to name a few. We loved reminiscing and laughing for hours about old 70s shows from Match Game to WKRP to Rockford Files.
Both Sean and I loved the Grateful Dead and despite our twitter handle, we really do enjoy all of the years. That said we both saw the Dead for the first time in the 80s, so those years are dear to our hearts. Sean saw his first show at Compton Terrace Amphitheater, Tempe, AZ (3/25/83). Note: if you haven’t heard this show, definitely check it out. From that moment he was hooked. He saw many shows on the west coast before making his way out to Michigan. We both loved 80s dead, particularly Brent Mydland. After a couple years of wishing David Lemieux would release more 80s tapes from the archive, we created the blog and twitter account as a joke. We loved tweeting about 80s shows and Brent and interacting with a community of people who also love the Grateful Dead.
I will miss Sean so much. In honor of him, play your favorite 80s show and think about all your wonderful deadhead friends.