Remembering Dick Latvala

Thursday, August 6, 2015
Remembering Dick Latvala

16 years ago today, Dead Heads everywhere were in mourning due to the death of the man who originated the concert recording series known as Dick’s Picks.

Born on July 26, 1943, Dick Latvala had been a tape trader for quite some time before he found his way into the Grateful Dead’s camp, working at their office on Front Street, and after his knowledge and his ear for quality and content were realized, he was appointed the band’s official archivist. It wasn’t until 1993, however, that the first volume of the legendary Dick’s Picks series was released, as it took a fair while for Latvala to persuade the band to release material that hadn’t been recorded on multitrack tapes and professionally mixed. Thankfully, he was able to convince them of the merit of releasing some of the more historically interesting material, and the rest is history.

Latvala became a hero to Deadheads not only for his work at getting classic shows released but also because he was so interactive with the fans on the Dead’s website, entering into discussions about his favorite shows, which shows should be released next, and so forth. Granted, his opinions didn’t always match up with the fans, but his devotion to the band and their history was undeniable, and his efforts to preserve their musical history were unquestionably a labor of love. When Latvala died suddenly of a heart attack at age 56, the Dead continued the Dick’s Picks series in his memory, with David Lemieux taking over curation of the tapes, but the title remains, which is just one of many reasons why Dick Latvala will never be forgotten.