Thoughts On The Dead

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

Tag: jerry garcia (page 3 of 123)

Dead And Gone, I May Be Dead And Gone

A little more Jerry Band featuring James Booker. This is from the (short) rehearsal a day or two before the weekend shows. The mix is more helpful on this one, especially through headphones–Garcia is panned hard right and Booker’s all the way on the left–but holy shit it does not work. The sound is beautiful but doomed, like a supermodel falling down an elevator shaft.

Also: James Booker may or may not know he is at a rehearsal, as he appears to address an imaginary audience several times.

Always A Dead Connection

Like so many other things, this was John Kahn’s fault. You will recall that in October of ’74, the Grateful Dead pulled the ol’ “fake retirement” trick–one of the hoariest gimmicks in show biz–and now Garcia had no touring money coming in. This is suboptimal for a man with three children and a mortgage, and so Garcia ramped up the Jerry Band. Whereas before, he stuck mostly to the Bay Area and played with locals, now he would take to the road and get some of that sweet, sweet East Coast cash. Those coffers ain’t gonna replenish themselves.

First, he put together the Legion of Mary–his best solo band, hands down–which was Kahn on bass (of course), Merl Saunders on organ and terrible vocals, Martin Fierro on out-of-tune saxophone, and the Greatest Drummer of All Time™ Ronnie Tutt. Sadly, this combo proved short-lived; Garcia fired Saunders and Fierro (not personally, of course; he let Parish make the calls) and added legendary British pianist Nicky Hopkins. Those big, brutish block chords in Sympathy for the Devil? That was Nicky.

But Nicky wasn’t a road dog like Garcia was: he was unhealthy since he was a kid, and he drank too damn much. He was a chatty drunk, too, and would introduce songs for ten minutes. Plus, according to Ronnie Tutt, he had bad time. (What Ronnie Tutt thought of Garcia’s time, he has kept to himself all these years.) A new keyboardist was needed. Someone reliable, professional, a real team player.

So Garcia hired an insane junkie.

James Booker’s tenure with the Jerry Band lasted a weekend, which makes him the Anthony Scaramucci of the JGB. Quite frankly, I can’t believe Garcia kept him on for the second night. Go listen to the show. Booker overpowers Garcia, and Kahn, with the deluge of music coming from his piano and, even more hilariously, refuses to listen to Garcia in the slightest. Booker cuts off his solos, goes into verses when Garcia starts singing the chorus, and at least once takes over the lead vocal halfway through the song. Also: the tunes end when James Booker says they end, and that’s it. (Every song. Every single song ends with Garcia trying to finish up the song but Booker keeps playing, or he’ll just ripcord out of the song while Garcia is soloing away merrily in the background.)

Was he amused? Pissed? I bet Garcia was pissed. I’ll bet his eyes got darker and darker throughout the evening, and that he made fun of Kahn for the suggestion for years afterwards.

Anyway, this is the 1/9/76 show. There was a second show the following night, and then James Booker was bundled back onto a plane bound for New Orleans. Garcia called up Keith and Mrs. Donna Jean and never hired any geniuses ever again.

Hard Box

What do you like better? Smoking or–


You didn’t hear the options.

“It doesn’t matter, man. Can’t beat cigarettes.”

When did you start?


What? That’s absurd.

“I was six in 1948, man. It was a different time. Kids could smoke. Shit, you got drafted at age ten back then.”

No, you didn’t.

“Most of the Korean War was fought with pre-teens, man.”

Not true.

“I looked older than my age back then, though.”


“Yeah. I think it was the beard.”

Might have been. Garcia?


You’re sitting on a box marked “fragile.”

“I was feeling kind of fragile today, man.”


One Of These Men Is Dead, And Yet We Are Informed That There Is A God

Psst. Hey. Garcia. Psst.

“Don’t psst at me, man.”

You gotta do me a favor.

“I really don’t.”

Please do me a favor?

“What, man?”

Keep that chick away from Harvey.

“I was planning on it. You see this look she’s giving me?”

That’s the look.

“That’s the look of love.”

Wasn’t that fun?



Garcia wore the fuck out of that turtleneck in late ’73.


I just broke the internet.

I Spy With My Little Eye…

  • Classic iPod. (Behind Mrs. Donna Jean.)
  • Amazon Echo. (In between Mrs. Donna Jean and Garcia.)
  • Two iPads. (To the left of Billy and Mickey.)
  • Phil’s booty. (Behind Phil.)
  • Precarious Lee’s handiwork. (Bottom left.)



Is that a humidor?

“On top of the monitor?”


“Nope. Ashes.”

Human ashes?



“Don’t worry about it.”

Is that secure? That angle is rather…



“It’ll be fine.”

Will it?

“Should be.”

Your words don’t fill me with confidence.

“I duct taped it.”

Oh, well, then it’s fine.

“I know.”

I was being sarcastic.

“I know. Don’t care.”

What Does The Vox Say?*

Garcia initially chose the Vox amp, but on the way back to 710 Ashbury, it blew a motivator. “Hey, what are you trying to push on us?” he said to the Jawas. Bobby pointed out that he had worked with the Fender before, and that it was in prime condition.


Insouciant. It means “indifferent,” but it’s French, so it means “indifferent in a sexy way.” That is the fashion in which the woman on the right is carrying her purse. Insouciant.


Is that Mickey’s stupid hat behind the blonde?


Hot Take: Robert Palmer>Steve Winwood.


Best thing Steve Winwood ever did was this:



*I’m sorry.


When A Blind Faith Takes Your Hand

This is either the 23rd or 24th of March, 1968. Traffic was playing at the Fillmore and Winterland that weekend, and they set up their gear for a free show in front of the local hippie-run FM station; Garcia dropped by to jam. (I DARE you to find a sentence more 1960’s than the one I just wrote. I dare you, motherfucker.) Garcia brought Mickey, and Mickey brought his stupid hat.

Anyway, you can go read the story on Hooterollin’ Around. I know it posted it yesterday, but fuck it: I was just that entertained by this well-researched and deeply strange post. Besides the free gigs in front of radio stations, and the famous flatbed truck show during the Haight Street Fair, and the Disneyland gig (!), there was this:

In a better, purer world, the Dead served as Chuck Berry’s backup band those nights. Well, they did for the first night.

A Partial and Loose Timeline of the Weekend the Grateful Dead was Chuck Berry’s Band:

  • A month before the show, Bill Graham hires the Dead for the gig, giving them a list of Chuck’s songs and a pep talk about rehearsing and show biz and then he and Phil started yelling at one another.
  • The Dead do not learn any of the songs.
  • The night of the show, Chuck Berry arrives alone in a rented Cadillac ten minutes before curtain time.
  • Bill Graham pays him in cash.
  • He exits the Cadillac.
  • With five minutes until lights up, half the Dead is almost ready; the rest are missing, too high to function, or wrist-deep in skank.
  • Bill Graham corrals the Grateful Dead, much like a border collie with sheep, but if the sheep were surly and sarcastic.
  • There is a crisis: Billy cannot get his hand out of the skank.
  • The crisis is averted: a sneeze is induced in the skank and everything opens right up.
  • The Dead take their places.
  • Chuck Berry enters.
  • “Why the fuck are there so many people up here?”
  • “Hi, Mr. Berry. I’m Bob.”
  • “Shut the fuck up.”
  • Chuck Berry says “Maybelline in E flat.”
  • The Dead play Johnny B. Goode in G.
  • Chuck Berry calls out “No Particular Place To Go” in A flat.
  • The Dead play Johnny B. Goode in G.
  • This is the point at which the fistfight broke out.
  • The Flaming Groovies were called into service for the second set, and the following two nights.

The Low Spark Of Tie-Dyed Boys

Is it humid?

“Yeah, man. It’s fucking humid. Leave it alone.”

You look like Rob Tyner.

“I told you to leave it.”

Is that Steve Winwood?



I’m Gonna Sing A Song For You

This is the past. This is the era we are no longer in, the Post-War era; that’s all over with. The men are dead, and the women are dead, and so are their tools. Ink and telephones and typewriters. Those things are for fetishists now. Guitars, too, maybe. Guitars speak in Base-6, but the culture only recognizes Base-2 lately.

This is the past. Cars required regular maintenance and could not drive themselves, not one little bit. Seatbelts were an option, and you had to pay extra for them. You could buy airplane tickets in cash without identification. There was one phone company in all of America. It was called Ma Bell. I’m sure some realized how creepy that was, but not most. Big cities had six or seven newspapers, and some would publish in the afternoons so the men leaving their offices had something to read on the train back to Levittown. If you wanted to deposit a check or take out money, you went to the bank. The bank was closed. The bank was open for an hour a day in the past.

This is the past. Little boys wore shorts and sported crewcuts. Girls wore pigtails and learned to make goulash; the Hungarian ones did, at least. Bees were everywhere. At night, the villages would dance and burn creosote and then the mass lickings began. The sun was left-handed. The national pastime was sissyfighting. Erosion had not yet scrubbed the presidents’ dicks from Mount Rushmore. Shampoo was free.

Excuse me.

Oklahoma was where Belgium should have been, but not vice-versa.

Stop this immediately.

What did I do?

It got weird.

It did. The past was very weird.

You started making things up.

No. I am a journalist.

Tell the nice people about the website.

Sure. The Smithsonian (la-dee-dah) has thrown up a new crowd-sourced rock photo site. Go check it out.

That was it? 

Eh. It’s kind of shitty to navigate and they make it a pain-in-the-ass to steal the pictures.

You’re mad at an organization for attempting to protect its intellectual property?


As long as we’re clear.

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