In Memoriam: Jerilyn Lee Brandelius, Author of ‘The Grateful Dead Family Album’ (1948-2020)
Photo by Bob Minkin
Jerilyn Lee Brandelius, beloved member of the Grateful Dead and Bay Area community, passed away on Aug. 31 in San Francisco. She was 72 years old. Brandelius is survived by her son, Creek Hart, her siblings Ken, Susie and John Brandelius, and a number of nieces and nephews.
Brandelius was born on June 25, 1948 in La Jolla, Calif. In the 1960s, she became a part of the burgeoning rock and roll scene in San Diego, during which she connected with bands such as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. At the end of the decade, Brandelius moved to San Francisco. Later, in 1972, while working with Warner Brothers record company on a record release party for Tower of Power, she met Mickey Hart, with whom she developed a close relationship for the next number of years; Brandelius’ children adopted Hart’s surname.
In the 1980s, Brandelius created The Grateful Dead Family Album, which, according to Grateful Dead historian Dennis McNally, is “a rich trove of photographs and memorabilia concerning the band and its wide circle of friends and intimates, with characters ranging from the toughest Hell’s Angels to the distinguished researcher Dr. Stanley Krippner.”
Later in life, Brandelius cared for a number of friends such as Chet Helms and Grateful Dead lyricist John Perry Barlow. According to McNally, “Bob Weir serenaded her deathbed with an acoustic rendition of ‘Brokedown Palace’—’Fare you well, my honey’—as masked loved ones surrounded her.”
“She was a one of a kind,” said Relix publisher Peter Shapiro. “She is going to be greatly missed. Her energy was one that would make you smile and laugh, even if you were a bit down and thought you couldn’t smile Jerilyn could make you smile.”
“I am going to miss in particular her visits to The Capitol Theatre with her Grateful Dead Family Album book,” Shapiro continued. “She was a true mother figure for the whole scene, and I have a feeling she is doing the same mothering upstairs with Jerry and Barlow and many others right now…”