The Dead had so many options after Brent’s all-bullshit-aside tragic death and they went with the worst. They apparently had this weird did-you-call-me/should-we-call thing with Merl that is far too Mean Girls to relate in good conscience and more’s the pity because maybe Merl would’ve kicked Garcia’s ass just a little, being a straight-laced man and proud deacon of the Mt. Holy Oak of Zion First Macadamia Church of the Redeemer in Christ. Plus, the Dead would have had a black guy in it. And as commercials have taught us, people hang out exclusively in carefully diverse groups.
There were others they could have at least auditioned. Elton John was hitting a rough patch at the time, perhaps he could have helped out. Something tells me Bobby would love to play Crocodile Rock. The flaw in the plan is that the first time Sir Elton threw one of his legendary tantrums, Billy would punch him in the dick, because this time I’ve gotta stand up for Billy: grown men throwing tantrums deserve a thorough dickpunching.
Rick Wakeman was also in a bit of a fallow period since wasting all of the money in Britain on an ice show to play arpeggios to. I have a feeling that the first time Rick opened his spangly cape to play two of his army of keyboards at the same time, Garcia would freak out and think he was a dragon and set him on fire. So, that’s a no for Rick Wakeman.
Stevie Wonder wouldn’t have worked because Phil still owes him $60 from a poker game and is ducking him.