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News-Antique.com - Sep 17,2007 - Santa Fe, Sept. 17, 2007--The first time Lawrence “Ram Rod” Shurtliff showed up in the Grateful Dead’s life he rode in on a Harley wearing a chain and lock around his waist.
He said “Names Ramrod -- Kesey sent me -- I hear you need a good man.”
That was in 1967. Shurtliff started out as the rock band’s truck driver. By the 1970’s he had grown so irreplaceable he was named president of the Grateful Dead board of directors. For three decades he was more than just a roadie.
"When things were crazy, Ram Rod kept everybody grounded. He was the trusted soul of the Grateful Dead," said the band’s publicist and historian Dennis McNally.
Born in Montana, Ram Rod was raised in the ranch country of eastern Oregon. The nickname “Ram Rod” came in the summer of 1966 when he went to spend time with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in Mexico. Kesey asked for someone to ramrod stuffing seven Pranksters into a Volkswagen bug.
Shurtliff volunteered calling himself Ramon Rodriguez Rodriguez. Prankster Neal Cassady christened him "Ram Rod" and the name stuck.
While the Grateful Dead went from being a small time band to a big time legend, Ram Rod was in the background managing mounds of equipment. Setting up. Tearing down. He was there for every show making sure everything and everybody was taken care of.
“He led a group of equipment technicians that were second to none,” said, Sam Cutler, former Tour Manager for the Grateful Dead and the Rolling Stones. He wasn’t pushy, loud or difficult--he was simply there doing his job.
No surprise Ram Rod ended up with so many relics of the band’s past. It didn’t hurt that he also had a huge barn capable of storing memories, magic and memorabilia of one of the cutting edge rock groups of the 20th century.
On May 8, 2007, Bonhams & Butterfields, San Francisco, featured the “Life on the Golden Road with the Grateful Dead: The Ram Rod Shurtliff Collection” at auction The 115 lots in the auction sold for over $1.1 million.
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