Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: festival express

I Said “No Pictures”

This is in Toronto, during the shit-dumb Festival Express that bankrupted a few hippies, enriched a few liquor store owners, and excreted a half-decent movie worth it if only for the scene of an unfathomably drunk-and-stoned Rick Danko, Marmaduke Dawson, Janis Joplin, and Garcia and Bobby wobbily circling through No More Cane on the Brazos. You’ve seen it, or you haven’t.

There. Now you have.

Anyway, this was 1970–long before the invention of security–and that doofus with the Nikon must have gotten up into Garcia’s face, unleashing the rarest Garcia of all: Scary Bear.

Legend has it that Garcia mauled and devoured the photog, but you can’t trust John Legend.

The Grateful Dead: Coke Fiends

The best thing about soda pop in glass bottles is that after you’ve quenched your thirst, you have a weapon.

Here Comes The Sunshine

jerry festival express tele

Here’s another, prettier, shot of Garcia with George Harrison’s telecaster. Is that Mickey and Phil watching from the wings?

Hand Me My Old Guitar While It Gently Weeps

Portland, Oregon, is known for many things: its rare-cheese district, the Space Needle, and its indigenous Itruca people. (In accordance with the progressive politics Portland is known for, the Itruca and their culture is scrupulously protected, and they run around in loincloths shooting at monkeys with blowdarts. Several people have noted that you can either be indigenous to Oregon or you can shoot at monkeys with blowdarts, but not both; the people that pointed this out were all Twitter-shamed.)

The Rose City is also home to Mr. Completely, who passes along this piece of truly trivial trivia for the discerning Rock Nerd/Gear Fetishist: though the Dead and the Beatles* don’t have many connections, Garcia (briefly) shared a guitar with George Harrison (kinda).

Garcia and rosewood Telecaster 2

Garcia (surely at least half-drunk, since this is the Festival Express) stumbled onstage to jam with Delancy & Brewster (or maybe Daffodil & Booboo, I can’t bring myself to care) and was given the Telecaster he’s playing in the above picture.

Delacroix & Bingbong were some sort of folk-rock duo that George Harrison hooked up with after his wife broke up the Beatles. (That’s the true story: Yoko was a patsy.) Eric Clapton was also in their band for a minute, too, which makes you wonder if the combo was nothing but the least interesting members of British bands – a reverse supergroup. John Deacon on bass, I suppose.

The guitar–a 1968 rosewood Tele–has a rare pedigree: it was one of two custom-made by Fender (the other was for Jimi Hendrix) and was used at both the Let It Be sessions and the rooftop concert they ripped off from U2. Other than the exotic lumber, it seems to be a stock Tele.


[PDF] George Harrison's Fender

So here is the question: why was Garcia–the fussiest man alive about his equipment–playing a strange guitar? This was the Festival Express tour: he had his stuff with him, the sunburst Strat and whatever acoustic this is:

jerry acoustic festival express billy hat

Hey, Billy. Nice hat.

“Stay on target.”

Sure, right. SO: here’s my thesis. Garcia wanted to play the Beatle’s guitar. There’s no way he’s more than five feet away from his guitar; no matter how rushed the jam session, he could have grabbed it. Garcia knew that was George Harrison’s old guitar and wanted a crack at it.

Also to be remembered: that was a new guitar. ’68 was two years ago in this photo. Not a vintage guitar.

Also to be mulled over: the Grateful Dead was the least telecaster band there was. Factually and spiritually, the Dead were anti-telecaster. (Bobby has a couple now, and it just doesn’t look right.)

Also to amuse you: George’s 1968 rosewood telecaster was re-acquired by the Harrison family, and they shipped it to Fender, where it was taken apart and measured scientifically to be reproduced by the Fender Custom Shop for $13,500 a pop. They made one hundred. Family paid half-a-mil to get the sucker back. You can do math.

(A STERN WARNING: that last link is to a Rolling Stone article and those fuckers autoplay videos. If Trump promised to execute people who autoplay videos in their sites, I would vote for him. That’s my key issue.)

*I am expecting I shall be apprised of the Marin/Liverpool links in the Comment Section.

Battle of The Bulge

jerry mountain girl 70 fest

Garcia’s belly is bigger than Mountain Girl’s and she’s pregnant.

Rock And Roll Is Here To Stay

There’s a moment in Festival Express, the great documentary about the doomed Trans-Canada Festival, that explains why Garcia will be forgiven his sins.

Sha Na Na is playing and they’re great: this was the early band and they were ugly as sin, fat as fuck, balding, acne-scarred, openly oozing pus from several locations, one of the guys used to shit himself onstage–it was a bad-looking group and what they would do is dress some of the guys in gold lame, dress the rest in wife-beaters, then scream ROCK AND ROLL at you in three-part harmony until you either cheered or shit yourself in solidarity.

Sha Na Na was, in its own way, far weirder than the Dead. There was no nostalgia industry back then: there hadn’t been enough stuff made for there to be ironic takes on it, plus the 50’s were the first period anyone could be nostalgic for. No one missed the 40’s. Later on would be Bowzer and TV shows with corny jokes, but in 1970, they were a far more aggressive goof.

Still a goof, though: the best part of the performance is watching the other musicians react to it. They cut to Garcia and he’s having a grand old time, and they stay on him as the song ends.

“Sha Na Na has to catch a plane! Wave ‘goodbye’ to Sha Na Na, Calgary!” the announcer says.

And Garcia waves goodbye to Sha Na Na.

Singing Danko For A Real Good Time

jerry bobby janis danko fest express

There’s high, and then there’s Rick Danko in Festival Express high.

Cowboy Bob On The Job

jerry bobby cowboy hat

We haven’t discussed this in a while but Bobby actually thought he was a fucking cowboy,

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