Forum Subject #9: Thoughts for Dick Latvala
Dick Latvala, the vault archivist for the Grateful Dead, died on August 6, 1999, at his home in Petaluma, California.
Dick has been like a godfather to DeadBase since its inception. His advice, corrections, and reviews have been invaluable and it is quite likely that DeadBase would have withered early on without his support. This forum is for any stories, thoughts, comments about Dick Latvala or his work, including the Dick's Picks series of live Dead CDs. (Posted 7/30/99)
If you would like to contribute your own comments, click here.
Dan Donat (email@example.com) - Wednesday May 30, 19101 @ 13:33:31
I'm just glad we had him while he was here.
Jim Sirigos (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Monday January 1, 19101 @ 08:56:55
I discovered the Grateful Dead through Dick's Picks last summer! I was doing some gardening and almost hacked my right index finger off! I had allot of time to spare so when I could get around, I went to a bookstore and saw the 1st Compendium. I flipped it open and was SHOCKED! I bought the book, because it was a great read!
I read the Latvalla interview and went and bought my first Pick. Vol 9, I like the quality of the set, but was not knocked out!
I then re-read the interview and focused on 5/2/70 I bought 5/2/70 and as soon as I heard "Rider" I was hooked. So thank you Dick! Trading followed immidiately after that!
3243 (email@example.com) - Thursday December 9, 1999 @ 20:41:50
Hey, thanks to Dick Latvala for his obsession. His interest in spelunking that wide, weird world known as the Grateful Dead tape vault yielded so many great shows and tunes as well as illustrating the creative evolution of rock's greatest band. He will surely be missed. May God bless, comfort and heal his family and friends. He will surely be missed. In Jesus' Name, amen.
Jimmy Jazz (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Thursday November 18, 1999 @ 17:10:24
Is there any possibility of posting the poem that Hunter wrote in tribute.
It's some of the briefest and most brilliant words written about how we should LIVE our lives.
Lizzy (email@example.com) - Tuesday September 28, 1999 @ 01:09:38
GOODBYE OLD FRIEND, YOU SHALL BE GREATLY MISSED, BUT NEVER FORGOTTEN! YOUR DEVOTION
AND EXCELLENT WORK WILL BE WITH US ALWAYS, THANK YOU FOR YOUR MANY YEARS OF PASSING ON ALL OUR FAVORITE SHOWS, AND FOR YOUR LOVE AND APPRECIATION OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD, WITHOUT YOUR HARD WORK, WE WOULD BE MISSING OUT ON ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT ATTRIBUTES TO THE GRATEFUL DEAD! YOU SURLEY HAVE PAINTED YOUR MASTERPIECE!! LOVE AND PEACE ALWAYS, YOUR SISTER, ELIZABETH
DogCow (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Saturday September 25, 1999 @ 01:40:34
We'll all miss Dick. He was a cool guy to be around and brought a lot to the table for DeadHeads. He's been responsible for a lot of music getting into my hands one way or another.
I don't know if we've mourned enough now but I have to ask... Who will carry on with Dick's work? If we just it die here, where it is, it will make Dick's work seem lost if his projects do not continue.
I know that I must sound very selfish... thinking of only my ears that might never get to more of the good stuff the band has stashed away in the vault. But carrying on the family name someone must step up and take his place so that his work is done and so that hi spirit goes on in the work of others
Peter Lavezzoli (email@example.com) - Wednesday September 15, 1999 @ 03:13:42
One thing I've always felt very strongly about Dick Latvala is that although I never knew him to follow any
particular religious path, he was one of the most *spiritually evolved* people I've met because of his enormous capacity for boundless
unconditional love, which is the highest spiritual quality in a human being. Dick's church was the music of the Grateful Dead, and Dick was an
ordained minister of that church, with each Pick being a sermon or gospel coming straight from Dick's heart to all of us. Actually, Dick always
loved gospel music as well. Make no mistake about it, this was a very spiritual man.
He was also a visionary! It takes critical listening to find those certain shows that have the power to transform lives. Certain GD shows are more
than just music, there is something larger happening on a cosmic level that was much bigger than the band itself. I think we all feel that to be
true, or we wouldn't be talking here. And I feel that long after we are all dead and gone, people in the future will continue to study this music,
because there are some very powerful energies in some of these shows--not every show by any means, but some. The power in some of this
music goes beyond the normal limitations of what music can do, and I feel that people in the future will continue to realize that. Something
special opened up for human consciousness with the volatile combination of LSD, the events of the 60s, and the San Francisco music scene. The
Dead were at the center of this intersection in space and time. And Dick Latvala understood that! He really understood the spiritual potential of
this music when it was at its highest level. He didn't just understand it INTELLECTUALLY, he FELT it in his soul. He understood the
importance of documenting this music, getting it out there so that people can always access it for themselves. He knew that people will need to
hear this music long into the future. He was the vehicle for that. This was a great man, one of our true heroes.
potsie jobs (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Thursday August 12, 1999 @ 11:03:33
this is a great loss to the dead community. the music lived on thru his contributions and unending passion for to pass on their music. well all see ya soon and say hi to jerry from all of us down here. god bless pots
Aaron (email@example.com) - Thursday August 12, 1999 @ 05:11:08
I just heard the news of Dick's death and I want to say we all will miss him dearly. Dick has been a big part of my life through his wonderful taste in music. Although I have never met Dick, I feel he is part of my family. He's been the main person to keep the flame lit for all of us Deadheads and for that, I am forever grateful. All the Dick's Pick's volumes have kept me going and always looking forward to a new DP release. May your spirit find rest in the other world--maybe we'll all meet on the other side soon. Peace be with you and thank you for your inspiration.
Rose (jelEbean@msn.com) - Monday August 9, 1999 @ 21:56:46
I just got my email for the first time since last Thurs and am grieved to light another candle today next to the one that has been burning all day to mark Jerry's anniversary. Another musical talent has left us; another trip down the magic road cut short. Who knows where Dick would have taken us in the next CD?
To Dick's family and friends, may your God bring healing to your spirits and ease the grief I know you feel. There are thousands of us out here who appreciated only one side of Dick, but we loved him too. I, for one, am glad his talent has been a part of my life and given me such happiness in the days since the Dead broke up. Dick's Picks have kept me going and I will always be grateful that Dick did the awesome job of pulling together some really great shows.
Dick, wherever you are, thank you for the music, for keeping it alive and for making me dance as if I were still at a show...
Brightest blessings, Rose
William Bradford (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Monday August 9, 1999 @ 13:03:17
FAIR THE WELL D.L. THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC THAT MADE IT TO THE STREETS. REST IN PEACE OLD FRIEND WE'LL MISS YOU.
tony b (email@example.com) - Sunday August 8, 1999 @ 08:47:24
DEEPEST SYMPATHY TO DICK'S FAMILY AND FRIENDS. THANK YOU FOR BRINGING ALL DEADHEADS GREAT JOY THESE PAST YEARS. YOU WERE TRULY DEDICATED TO THE JOY OF MUSIC. THANK YOU
Marty Braga (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Saturday August 7, 1999 @ 21:55:45
To the Latvala Family my sincerest, and deepest sympathy goes out to you I hope you can be strong during this period and I know that nothing can be said except that I hope knowing that my prayers are with you may provide some compfort May God Bless you
Phil (email@example.com) - Saturday August 7, 1999 @ 14:37:54
Just got the news on the Deadnet site that sadly Dick has passed on to a better place.Words cannot explain how much pleasure his work has brought me. He was truely the ears of the world.
The Following thoughts and wishes were offered before Dick's passing:
Dick Latvala, the vault archivist for the Grateful Dead, is very ill and needs your prayers, well-wishes, and healing vibes. Dick has been like a godfather to DeadBase since its inception. His advice, corrections, and reviews have been invaluable and it is quite likely that DeadBase would have withered early on without his support. This forum is for those thoughts, as well as any comments about him and his Dick's Picks series of live Dead CDs. (Posted 7/30/99)
Marty Braga (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Friday August 6, 1999 @ 23:21:45
I promise to pray for a speedy recovery for you. I never had the pleasure of knowing you personally, but, I know that your efforts to keep new releases of my favorite music have definetly given me much comfort and listening pleasure when I've had the blues. So in the very small , but sincere way I hope and pray for you to resume a happy and healthy life with your friends and family. P.S. I misspelled my e-mail address last time so Irespectfully am reposting my message Sincerly, Marty Braga
Timb (email@example.com) - Friday August 6, 1999 @ 14:15:09
Hang in there and be strong Dick. We all love you very much.
Sexy Sadie (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Friday August 6, 1999 @ 13:14:58
Dick, thank you for all that you have so generously shared with all of us. Your work is an inspiration and keeps all of us alive with a spirit that has passed. My thoughts are with you. I will pray that you get better soon.
Matt (email@example.com) - Thursday August 5, 1999 @ 13:12:17
May God help Dick make it out of this. I pray that everything works out for the best. Love You Matt
Marty Braga (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Thursday August 5, 1999 @ 02:57:32
I promise to pray for a speedy recovery for you. I never had the pleasure of knowing you personally, but, I know that your efforts to keep new releases of my favorite music have definetly given me much comfort and listening pleasure when I've ahd the blues. So in the very small , but sincere way I hope and pray for you to resume a happy and healthy life with your friends and family. Sincerly, Marty Braga
Dave (LanceMning@aol.com) - Tuesday August 3, 1999 @ 13:00:23
I was sad when i heard about this , I will add you to my daily prayers,and hope us Heads don't have another " black " day in a three week period !!!!! Dick ,get well soon , my brother !!!!!!! Peace out , Dave
Joe D. (JCD72@prodigy.net) - Tuesday August 3, 1999 @ 12:55:17
Hope you get better soon Dick. Thanks so much for the music and for keeping the spirit alive. God bless you.
Rose (jelEbean@msn.com) - Monday August 2, 1999 @ 19:41:41
and heartfelt thanks to you for keeping us going too!
Rose (jelEbean@msn.com) - Monday August 2, 1999 @ 19:38:59
Dick, my heart is with you and your family. Whichever path your spirit chooses at this moment of your life, know that you have touched so many of us with your gift in compiling all the right shows and keeping the Dead alive for all of us who miss Jerry and the tours. May your God give you ease both physically and spiritually.
Blessed be, Rose
BRYAN ROWIN (BLUMPU@AOL.COM) - Monday August 2, 1999 @ 18:21:11
DICK OUR PRAYERS ARE WITH YOU! YOU ARE GOING TO BE HERE WITH US FOR AWHILE JERRY WILL DO JUST FINE WITHOUT YOU FOR NOW! :-) FEEL BETTER AND TAKE IT EASY! BRYAN ROWIN
KE (email@example.com) - Monday August 2, 1999 @ 14:47:54
Dick-Keep the faith, focus on positive energy, listen to some of you favaorite Dead Pix and find your happy place! Best Wishes- Kiki
john Tobin (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Monday August 2, 1999 @ 12:08:20
Thanks for sorting through all the music. We wish we could hear it all! Hope you feel better! Marin is a nice place to recuperate. Mt. Tam is a focus point for spiritual energy!
Ed Leiken (email@example.com) - Monday August 2, 1999 @ 02:22:31
Hang in there Dick, we are all pulling for you. And well, you know, listen to the music play...
Lizzy (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Sunday August 1, 1999 @ 23:25:37
Jesus Christ is our healer, I will be praying for your recovery. I know that all shall be well. Thank you for all of DP, they have gotten me through some tough times. May the grace of GOD be with you and your family. "Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right!" Smile and keep on Truckin'!!!! Peace and Love, Your Sister, Elizabeth
page fletcher (email@example.com) - Sunday August 1, 1999 @ 21:25:38
To the Latvala family, Your cardiac illness declared itself with troublesome timing close to the August date of Jerry Garcia's death. This will help our family focus on your healing needs. Thank you for the music Dick, thinking of you.
Kevin (UKfan0118@aol.com) - Sunday August 1, 1999 @ 11:59:55
Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Dick, from Decatur, Alabama. Best wishes for a speedy recovery. God Bless...
K.R. and the Sunshine Band of Gypsies Kevin, Robbie, Amanda, Brent, Jerome, Tommy
James Brand (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Sunday August 1, 1999 @ 01:36:45
Man, all i can say is that your DP's have kept me going, and this is coming from a US Marine who has been fighting the chemicals from Iraq since 1992. I say give me your situation, Let me deal with it, and you keep making the DP's. I'd say that was fair!!!!Your in my heart my friend.....
Steve Silberman (email@example.com) - Saturday July 31, 1999 @ 23:14:55
Dick in the Bardo
David Gans and I went up to see Dick Latvala yesterday in the hospital. I didn't know what to expect -- the word "coma" implied a lack of activity to me; I feared I'd walk in and see an inanimate shell in the bed, a vacated meat house wherein once dwelled a spirit I loved. This has all been sudden and terrible. I spoke to Dick last Tuesday to wish him a happy 56th birthday. He told me he'd had the kind of birthday he really wanted to have: slept all day, getting up to watch Imus from the night before. He loves Imus -- for a sweet guy who often lets others call shots, I can see why he gets a kick out of an unapologetic asshole who dominates everyone. Imus is Dick's id unchained.
Dick was in a great mood on Tuesday. He asked me what era he should aim for with the next Dick's Picks (not a special honor, he asks everyone), and I told him either the mid '80s, the late '80s, or the very early '90s. One of his candidates fell within one of those time-zones, so we talked about that show. It sounded great. Dick's greatest pleasure is to blow the minds of Deadheads out there who he imagines are as into having their minds blown as he is. He can listen to tapes for six hours straight and still get beside himself when an especially asskicking version of some tune, *any* tune, gets laid down. "This is the best version of [insert title] there's ever been!" he'll rave with absolute seriousness, like a kid discovering not a bike under his Christmas tree, but a jetpowered Harley with a space helmet. It doesn't matter whether it actually is the best version technically speaking -- for that moment in Dick's life, there is nothing else. It's a kind of clear-creek Zen at the core of his ragged life, not dwelling in frets or future aspirations. The shape of wow, over and over again. And being a scholar, Dick writes it all down, on hundreds of notebook pages -- a handwritten high-resolution map of the topography of the Grateful Dead continent.
"The Great Way is simple," Dogen-zenji advised. "Avoid picking and choosing." As head picker and chooser, Dick manages to juggle both minds at once -- wonder and overview -- without ever losing the ability to just soak it in, when the words don't matter anymore.
The right of visitation is parcelled out in the ICU: if two people come to see a loved one in this difficult place, one must wait outside the swinging door. David let me go first.
Whatever I was ready for, however much I'd tried to prepare myself or not think about it, I was still shocked when I walked in. I didn't even see Dick at first -- his son Richie and his first wife Carol were there, and an old friend from Dick's commune days named Charlotte, clustered in a circle of love around the bed. Dick was the small presence at the center of the circle, with tubes running out of his nose and mouth. He looked exposed, vulnerable, like a kid laying on his back, barefoot, under a green hospital gown. Mechanical sounds: pingings, the apparatus that has completely taken over Dick's respiration after his own nervous system stopped adding breaths to the 12-per-minute cycle of the machine after the first day.
What I wasn't ready for was how active Dick's face was. He knit his brow, he grimaced, his mouth -- his poor old-man's teeth removed -- fought to spit out the tube jammed down his throat. Richie held Dick's left hand while Carol cradled his left foot and stroked his leg, while Charlotte gently touched his furrowing forehead. He appeared not to be at rest, but engaged in battle in one of those perilous in-between places the Tibetans call the bardo. (According to their Book of the Dead, what happens there, what you do after you're dead, is very important: it's where you slot yourself into your next incarnation, or where the White Light appears, if you've brought good karma, or a sharp practice of mindfulness, into that no-Place.)
Dick's hands were warm, and he had good color in his face. Distressingly, his closed eyes were tearing, I was afraid to ask what that meant. There *did* seem to be a presence in him. He was no empty shell. When Richie spoke to Dick, he reacted with a little flicker of activity to his son's voice. I thought of the kitties that Dick puts food out for at the Dead's studio early every morning, making a special trip to feed them; I didn't mention them, fearful of triggering some nightmare of guilt in his mind, where ever he was now. Richie looks like his father when he was young and beautiful, and the emotion radiating toward the man Richie calls Dad was pure and life-sustaining. It sounds sentimental, but the love from Carol and Richie and Charlotte shone like a golden light around the bed, their voices soothing him. (In Hell there are angels, and they're us.)
Carol grinned as she told me that when the hospital chaplain had come in, asking if there was anything he could do, Dick had let loose with a thundering explosive fart. We agreed that that indicated that Dick was still Dick, using any means of communication at his disposal.
I looked down at Dick and didn't know what to say, not wanting to talk about him in the third person, not sure how to speak to him directly. Finally, I figured I should talk to him as I normally do: "Dickie, sweetie, get up, it's me, Diga Baby!" I said, and took his hand. That's how I always talk to him: there's little standard refrigerated male distance between us: we babble happily to each other in babytalk and nicknames for hours on the phone, one young middle-aged guy and an older middle-aged guy who agreed years ago simply to like each other without a lot of dire preliminary tests or barbed wire. I know just why he gets up at dawn to feed those cats, and he knows I know, and we don't even spend all of our time talking about the music, because I figured out a while ago that the only way Dick was ever going to be iron-clad sure that I wasn't loving him for his tapes was to never ask for any. I love him, and that love outlasted even my craving to get more tapes; and knowing that together has nourished me more in the last 6 years than all the Scarlet > Fires I could have wheedled out of him.
I held Dick's hand for as long as I could, but left to give David a chance to have time with him, and then the big EEG cart was wheeled in, calling off all visits until the tests were done.
In the backyard of the hospital, David and John and Annie Cutler and Dick's roommates and Richie sat at a table in the sun, not saying a lot, feeling everything.
Later that day, David and I went to Club Front to continue work on the "So Many Roads" project that has become, without anyone saying it yet, a tribute to Dick. We ran into Nancy Mallonee, the Dead's chief financial officer, who told us the Dead-office family had joined in the focusing of healing beams toward Dick at noon that was organized by somebody on the Internet. She explained how they'd given their prayers an extra burst of Dick energy: "We touched the vault!"
With angels like that rooting for him, Dick has a lot of help finding his way in the bardo. May he choose wisely, and if it's right for him, may our old friend come back to us soon.
Steve Silberman co-author, "Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads" http://www.levity.com/digaland/index.html
Marty Katz (Mcats@att.net) - Saturday July 31, 1999 @ 22:44:26
It's been well over twenty years since you shared your dream of becoming the Grateful Deads tape archivest. I'm glad you were able to turn your dream into reality. My prayers go out that the dream is not over. Get well soon. Best always, Marty
brotherbear (firstname.lastname@example.org) -  Jul 31, 1999 @ 16:29:41
hi brothers and sisters, Jacksonville sends loads of love and healing wishes. The China Cat Fest is tomorrow, our little bow to Jer We will drum and play and dance and hold Dick close. selah
Phil (email@example.com) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 12:46:28
Dick's Pick 14 arrived this morning and I have spent the day drifting with the sounds. Hang on in there Dick because there are still 2,253 shows to go. Are thoughts and prayers are with you from the UK.
john Miley (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 12:28:59
.......Dick's work on the releases reveals an astounding sense of judgement and good taste. Our thoughts and prayers are with him in hopes of a speedy recovery. Tonight in Athens, GA, I am performing as part of a Jerry birthday tribute at the Georgia Theater, and we will be sure to send bucket loads of love and overall good vibes his way.
meg (email@example.com) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 10:46:19
may dick feel all the spiritual greatness that he has given to all of us who love what he has done with the dead music. we anxiously await the next dp to come out days after we recieve our order. now we anxiously await his recovery. with all those he has affected, he must be surrounded with warm rays of smiles. get well soon! we are thinking about you!
Catalin and Sabrina (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 10:11:11
Hey now, we are deeply affected by the news that one of the brightest shining lights in the Dead family needs our support under these type of circumstances. Our prayers and thoughts are with Dick as we hope he recovers. DP 1 - 14 are some of the best collection of music froma any source, anywhere. the man is a genius. We continue to pray for his recovery.
BOBG (email@example.com) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 08:09:24
We are all pulling for you! God be with you in your speedy recovery.
Shawn (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 05:15:11
I just got a note in the mail from Dick. He was responding to a letter I had written. Wasn't he just here on the east coast at a club for something? Such a shock. Hope it's not too serious. Get well soon.
Lori (email@example.com) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 02:34:17
Thank you for DP 1-13 (14 should arrive any day now!). They're terrific and have been part of countless evenings of twirling, drumming and singing. Peace and blessings during your recovery.
eyya (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 01:58:10
Dick's constant devotion to making the music and thus the community of the Dead continue in quality form for years now. May the grace of his creativity and impact upon us all vibe right back to him in a glow of beautiful light that he certainly deserves.
yodus (email@example.com) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 01:47:58
our prayers are with you
willy (firstname.lastname@example.org) - Jul 31, 1999 @ 00:30:04
Hang in there Dick,I hope you get well soon.Thankyou for all you have done, I am listening to hour #566 Dicks Picks vol 1 outtakes on 91.9 Keep up the faith we all are praying for you to be ok. Willy
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