Thoughts On The Dead

Musings on the Most Ridiculous Band I Can't Stop Listening To

Blow The Horn, Tap The Tambourine

bobby jerry clarenceI might just devote all of tomorrow to So Many Roads: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead by David Browne, the new doorstop-sized history/tell-all/overview/Mickey and Justin Kreutzmann interview. (Seriously: Justin is quoted more than I remember, say, Jason Bonham being in Hammer of the Gods.) It is well-written and capacious and digressive and wonderful: purchase the fucker.

One particular story I hadn’t heard needs more immediate attention, though: not only was Clarence Clemons semi-seriously asked to officially join the Dead, but he, Bobby, and Garcia were going to get a bachelor’s pad together. Like in Three Men and a Baby, but without the baby. Two Men and a Bobby, I guess.

The Dead all hit it off with Clarence, who was legendarily extroverted; for his part, Clarence was just happy not to be playing the same two-note vamp for twelve minutes while Bruce talked about his father or cars or that dream he kept having where his penis turns into Mr. Roger’s cardigan.

There was a lot more freedom with the Dead, Clarence found. You were allowed to trip your balls off onstage. Bruce had never made it explicitly forbidden to eat several handfuls of mushrooms before going on, but it was to be assumed: he had once caught Garry W. Tallent smoking a doobie; Bruce threw him down a flight of metal stairs and fined him a hundred bucks.

Clarence was also used to being the only black guy, so that was cool.

As far as joining the band goes, Clemons is blackballed by someone in the band whom David Browne does not name but is Phil. Garcia and Bobby asked him in the first place, so they vote yes; Mickey, as we know, had an open-stage policy. It was Phil.

Clemons took it in stride, went down to the bar, and did some blackballing of his own.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.



  1. From the 6/21/89 Summer Solstice show at Shoreline. Can you imagine the ‘fridge in that place if they had moved in together? Also, the hair products (Bobby, and afro hair is notoriously fussy)!!

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