Mickey once convinced his father to retool a music store into an all-drum extravaganza named Drum City. Mickey once made an album called Planet Drum. Mickey was not well-rounded.
The unholy spawn of Oates and Baba-Booey, Mickey Hart was the Other One of the Dead’s rhythm section. Astonishingly, he also manages to be the silliest man in a group full of deeply, almost constitutionally silly people. There are no stories concerning Mickey in any of the multitude of books about the Dead that do not end one of two ways: with fortunes disappearing in exceedingly foreseeable ways, or Mickey attacking another human being in public.
Money was allergic to Mickey, in the sense that anytime he got near any appreciable amount of cash, it would flee into the night, generally after gathering up any other money that just happened to be in the area. If Mickey had gone on a tour of San Simeon, it would have burned down immediately. We can only assume that, even though he grew up in the Bay Area, Bill Gates never happened upon Mickey Hart. We know this because had it occurred, Gates would today be gulping dongs to get paint to huff. Such is Mickey’s magic, because he thought big.
Rick Wakeman once took a book of finger-limbering exercises, renamed it after King Arthur, and rented a hockey arena so otherwise unemployable 35-year-old former Olympic ice dancing hopefuls could salchow their way through three hours of arpeggios played by a man in a spangly cape. Mickey thought Rick Wakeman was a piker. In 1984, Mickey spent 2.5 million trying to get all of Hands Across America to clap along to a 15-beat bouzouki rhythm. The album was never released.
As for the random–yet entirely predictable–violence, perhaps you’re saying, “But rock music has always been fraught with explosive personalities. What about the fights between the Davies brothers or Daltrey and Townshend or Metallica and their reputation?” Yes, yes: all true. Except you will notice that the examples, and all the other fightin’ twosomes you’re thinking of are basically long-running personality disputes. Sure, the Gallagher brothers are, statistically speaking, punching each other as I write this, but if they weren’t rock stars, they would be doing the same thing. If they were Liam and Noel’s Plumbing Service and you called them, your house would be rapidly filling with feces as they rolled around on the floor biting each others’ necks and using their adorable Brummie accents to transform the word ‘cunt’ into something that sounds like a pet name.
That wasn’t Mickey. Mickey tackled producers in studios. He choked crew members in delicatessans. Accountants in auto-supply shops. Florists in winnebagos. The only person, I believe, he didn’t attack was his good ol’ pop. You know his dad: the guy that stole so much money from the Dead that instead of precisely calculating the figure, the FBI just rounded it up to “all of it.” The rat in the proverbial drain ditch.
Every time I see a picture of Mickey at his ranch, all I can picture is the guy raising his camera and Mickey going, “Wait! Let me get my serape!”