The popularity of the Cornell ’77 concert recording is just one example of how visionary the Dead were. At a time when bootlegs were thought of as a ripoff of a band and its record company, the Dead had another take on it. It’s the view of Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow that “bootleg recordings spread the gospel of the Grateful Dead. They were a cornerstone of the Deadhead community. Taping was ‘one of the most enlightened, practical, smart things that anybody ever did. I think it is probably the single most important reason that [the Dead has] the popularity that we have.”
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Source: Peter Conners, Cornell ’77: The Music, Myth and Magnificence of the Grateful Dead’s Concert at Barton Hall