Will the Dead Keep on Truckin'

Will the Grateful Dead rise again?

Band members have not even met to discuss their post-Jerry Garcia future, but sources close to the group say it wouldn't be surprising to see a new incarnation of the Dead by the middle of next year.

The main question: How do you fill the vacancy left by singer and guitarist Garcia, who died of a heart attack on Aug. 9?

Garcia-driven songs composed the majority of the Dead repertoire and would obviously have to be re-arranged and handled by other band members.

As for a new guitarist, the conjecture among Deadheads has been predictably wild--with possibilities ranging from David Hidalgo of Los Lobos to Garcia's longtime bluegrass partner David Nelson to singer Robert Hunter, who wrote lyrics for most of Garcia's songs.

Another scenario bypasses the guitar issue entirely and suggests longtime Dead friends Bruce Hornsby and Branford Marsalis stepping in together, at least temporarily.

"There has been no decision about the future," says Grateful Dead spokesman Dennis McNally. "[Drummer] Billy [Kreutzmann] is taking a course in oceanography, [guitarist] Bobby [Weir] is writing a musical about Satchel Paige, [bassist] Phil [Lesh] is enjoying time with his family. . . . Everybody's busy with other things."

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