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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Render Unto Caesar, 1978

Garcia was never gonna be homeless after the 60s, but like so many he struggled managing his finances. 1978 was a bad year on various measures, and here's a simple one: tax liens. I can't imagine the stress that would be devouring most of us if we were ever to have a lien slapped against our house for failure to pay taxes. The fiscal contract is the core of the social one between citizens and state. It's where the rubber of the state's monopoly on the legitimate use of violence (Max Weber) hits the road of everyday life - you have to pay your taxes, or you can be deprived of your liberty. The US subprime mortgage crisis exposed a lot of people to a lot of this kind of stress. Garcia lived it.

I earlier noted a $25,000 federal tax lien (see 1978-CUTS tour, in progress), caught up in a kinetic whirlwind of personal and professional electricity; drama on the home front, ghosts of lectricity in the studio making the record, hitting the road. That was a big hit, but the hits kept coming in 1978. The State of California dropped two, first for about $5k as Garcia tripped the Pyramids fantastic with the Dead, and again at the end of the year for another $6,500. (Eureka … I have found it!) Uncle Sam kept hitting that, too, taking tastes for $12,450 on November 3 against Jerome J., plus $8,200 six days later and $1,200 on 12/13 against Garcia, Kahn and Tutt dba Jerry Garcia Band.

Here are the data:

Table xxx. Jerry Garcia and JGB tax liens, 1978

I don't have corresponding revenue information, though in the same records I can see the liens being released in dribs and drabs, as he pays them off. This is one tiny piece of the picture of Garcia's finances. There's selection bias in the data and all that. They are not representative! But, by the standard of normal people, this is not pretty: any year in which you get slapped with a half-dozen tax liens, to the tune of over $200k in today's terms, has to be a bad one ... Rock Star or no Rock Star.

! ref: Matthew 22:21,


  1. Interesting... one more piece of the puzzle. So tempting to draw connections between his financial woes and other personal/musical issues at the time. Then again, this was the guy who had thousands of dollars in uncashed checks stuffed into his glove compartment, so who knows if this kind of thing really even registered for him?

  2. Just had a reply cannibalized. Anyway, it had to have registered, if only subconsciously. I have a hard time believing otherwise, but of course anything is possible.


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