Been avoiding this thread for a few days now... Tis a very touchy subject. Jerry is OUR 'god' to a extent, and any sort of critism of him, justfied or not, always require tact and a bit of diplomacy. Witht aht said, though, I still feel the need to dive into this debate head first.
Now, I'll preface this all with saying I NEVER saw Jerry. My Dad was responsible in the late 80s and 90s and never took me to a show. I know this matters to some of you because without actually seeing jerry, I am supposedly not equipped to have say. I call bullshit. I've listened to countless Dead shows, hours and hours of wonderful music. I've listened the whole way back ot eh beginning to the very end. I even DL'd and listened to 100+ shows my Dad saw from 79 to 95.
So, with that said... I agree that the Grateful Dead was holding themselves back. I think in the early 80s the group shoudl have ended, and the 'side project's should have been born. However, with the amount of people depending on the Dead tour ot sustain life, this wasnt an option so they trudged on. There were some beautiful moments, don't get me wrong. But I think despite having fun and makign a go of it, each band member really longed for the NEXT project...
That is where I see Jughead's POV coming into play. It wasn't that Jerry wasn't into the Dead, he just wanted something fresher and newer. That's why he seemed so much more enthusiac, IMO, with the Jerry Band stuff and the Grisman stuff. Remember, Jerry wanted to make bluegrass and what not when teh Dead started! I think he certianly felt trapped and stuck in the mud with the Dead because of what the fans wanted to hear. I think proof positive of this atittude is in 85 when they busted out Cryptical Envelopment. I believe there is Jerry quote stating something along the lines "All the fans want is something different! Thats all they complain abotu! So lets give them something different!!!"
No amtter how you look at it there are certainly reasons why the songbook shrunk so much in the 80s and has now expanded so much in the 2000s. maybe it was Jery, maybe it wasnt. I say it was the whole beast knwon as the Grateful Dead, and that each member played their own role. Lesh and Weir's drug abuse certainly didn't help things.