Musical biopics have been all the rage in the past few years, with the stories of Queen and Elton John being brought to life in film and a movie about Elvis in the works from Baz Luhrmann. Just recently, the late, great Aretha Franklin was celebrated in the film Respect, and Pete Davidson has been announced as taking on the role of Joey Ramone for an upcoming Ramones biopic.
The Grateful Dead will now join their ranks as revered directed Martin Scorsese is set to make a musical biopic about the iconic group with Jonah Hill attached to star as legendary frontman Jerry Garcia. The pair previously worked together on 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
The film is still untitled and it has not yet been revealed exactly which parts of the band’s storied career it will cover.
The Grateful Dead formed in San Francisco’s Bay area in 1965 and became known for blending the styles of rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and psychedelic rock. Their devoted fans, known as “Deadheads,” would flock to see them perform their epic instrumental jams — something that solidified the group as one of the leading counterculture acts of the 60s.
Along with Garcia, founding members include Bob Weir, Ron McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann, with the band continuing to tour together until Garcia’s death from a heart attack in 1995.
The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
The biopic is being developed at Apple, where Scorsese currently has another project in the works — a film called Killers of the Flower Moon which is a Western crime drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Jesse Plemons.
Scorsese’s Grateful Dead pic has apparently been given the blessing of the surviving members of the band and Weir, Kreutzmann, Lesh and Mickey Hart are all on board as executive producers. Trixie Garcia, the daughter of Jerry Garcia, and the band’s manager Bernie Cahill will also executive produce, along with Eric Eisner.
It’s not the first time Scorsese has produced a project relating to the Grateful Dead. In 2017, he executive-produced a six-part documentary series about the band titled Long Strange Trip, calling the group “more than just a band” and saying “they were their own planet, populated by millions of devoted fans.”
The Award-winning director has also lent his hand to other high-profile music documentaries, such as the 1970 film Woodstock to 1978’s The Last Waltz, 2011’s George Harrison: Living in the Material World and 2019’s Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story.Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.