Richard Pechner, a Novato native and Terra Linda resident, is now a rock star in Cleveland. In a way.
A former Dead roadie and now a professional photographer, Pechner has his image of the famed Wall of Sound speaker system featured in a new Grateful Dead exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and it was installed just in time for the latest hall induction ceremonies April 12-14.
Pechner, a grad, finalized a license agreement with the Rock and Roll Hall in February to donate his image of the massive Wall of Sound, a mountain of McIntosh amplifiers created by Owsley “Bear” Stanley and others. Pechner attended the pre-opening with his son, Toby, and his brother Stan and received the VIP treatment from curator Howard Kramer.
"Walking into the exhibit room and seeing my photo as the backdrop ranks right up there as one of the great thrills of my life," Pechner said. "What an honor to all who contributed to make the Grateful Dead what it is to be recognized in this setting. Truly humbling experience."
David Lemieux, archivist for the Dead, told Pechner that the group's Grateful Dead Productions loaned more than a dozen pieces of equipment and the individual band members loaned instruments and other items. The exhibit will be on display through December.
According to the rock hall's website, the exhibit is devoted to the Dead as a recording group and a touring band, the loyal fans who followed them and the people who influenced the band. It includes finished and working manuscripts for classic songs, handwritten notes and artifacts.
Pechner moved to San Francisco in 1966 upon graduation from Novato High and became a big fan of the Grateful Dead, which had formed the previous year. Pechner eventually spent a lot of time at the band's place at Olompali, current site of , just north of Novato.
Pechner recently completed his third year as president of the Foundation. He is working on "Divine Wine Extravaganza 3," a May 12 fundraiser for MSA with Grammy-winning music producer Narada Michael Walden, on May 12 at the Ferrari of San Francisco dealership in Mill Valley.