Thursday, July 30, 2015

Reading Notes: Henke 1991

LIA posted a quote from this, I stumbled across it amidst my materials, and I decided now was as good a time as any to annotate it.

Henke, James. 1991. The Rolling Stone Interview: Jerry Garcia. Rolling Stone, October 31, 34-40, 103, 106, 108.

Two September 1991 afternoons, hotel room overlooking Central Park.

July 1991 was release of JG DG, August 1991 was release of double live JGB. Meantime, JG was trying to kick H again.

“solo jaunts are often more entertaining than his work with the Dead, and one gets the feeling that if he felt he could easily extricate himself from the Dead and his attendant responsibilities, he might just do it. Still, when pressed, Garcia claimed the Dead take precedence. … We’ve all put so much of our lives into it by now that it’s too late to do anything drastic” (Henke 1991, 37).

Two separate interview sessions September 1991 NYC. In a family way with Manasha and Keelin.

“recent” meeting in which Garcia told the other band members that he wasn’t having fun anymore, that he wasn’t enjoying playing with the Dead. Garcia confirms this.

“The band is the board of directors, and we have regular meetings with our lawyers and our accountants. And we’ve got it done to where it only takes about three or four hours, about every three weeks. But anyway, the last couple of times, I’ve been there screaming ‘Hey, you guys!’ Because there are times when you go onstage and it’s just plain hard to do, and you start to wonder, ‘Well, why the fuck are we doing this if it’s so hard?’”

“We’ve been running on inertia for quite a long time. I mean, insofar as we have a huge overhead, and we have a lot of people that we’re responsible for, who work for us and so forth, we’re reluctant to do anything [38] to disturb that. We don’t want to take people’s livelihoods away. But it’s us out there, you know. And in order to keep doing it, it has to be fun” (Henke 1991, 37-38).

“we’re … going to have to construct new enthusiasm for ourselves, because we’re getting a little burned out. We’re a little crisp around the edges” (Henke 1991, 38).

They are trying to work up to taking a long break, a la 1974, “aiming for six months off the road” (Henke 1991, 38).

p. 38 Gar talks about how he dislikes trying to write songs. “It’s like pulling teeth.”

They saw Brent’s death coming. “About six or eight months earlier, he OD’d and had to go to the hospital, and they just saved his ass. … I think there was a situation coming up where he was going to have to go to jail. He was going to have to spend like three weeks in jail, for driving under the influence or one of those things, and it’s like he was willing to die just to avoid that. Brent was not a real happy person. And he wasn’t like a total drug person. He was the kind of guy that went out [39] occasionally and binged. And that’s probably what killed him” (Henke 1991, 38-39).

Getting older, people dying. Rick Griffin just died. “[F]or me at this point, I’m just happy if someone dies with a minimum of pain and horror” (Henke 1991, 39).

“I’m not a religious person” (Henke 1991, 39).

The Grateful Dead is not where you’re going to find comfort. In fact, if anything, you’ll catch a lot of shit. And if you don’t get it from the band, you’ll get it from the roadies. They’re merciless. They’ll just gnaw you like a dog. They’ll tear your flesh off. They can be extremely painful” (Henke 1991, 39). Note that one word from Garcia could have put a stop to that, but he didn’t roll that way.

“Brent had a deeply self-destructive [40] streak.” (Henke 1991, 39-40). Talks about Brent lacking in culture.

“My life would be miserable if I didn’t have those little chunks of Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot” (Henke 1991, 40).

#drugs “I’ve been round and round with the drug thing. People are always wanting me to take a stand on drugs, and I can’t. To me, it’s so relativistic, and it’s also very personal. A person’s relationship to drugs is like their relationship to sex. … For me, in my life, all kinds of drugs have been useful to me, and they have also definitely been a hindrance to me. So, as far as I’m concerned, the results are not in. Psychedelics showed me a whole other universe, hundreds and millions of universes. So that was an incredibly positive experience” (Henke 1991, 40).

Still dabble with mushrooms: “It’s one of those things where every once in a while you want to blow out the pipes. For me, I just like to know they’re available, just because I don’t think there’s anything else in life apart from a near-death experience that shows you how extensive the mind is” (Henke 1991, 40).

“as far as the drugs that are dead-enders, like cocaine and heroin and so forth, if you could figure out how to do them without being strung out on them, or without having them completely dominate your personality … I mean, if drugs are making your decisions for you, they’re no fucking good. I can say that unequivocally. If you’re far enough into whatever your drug of choice is, then you are a slave to the drug, and the drug isn’t doing you any good” (Henke 1991, 40).

“I’m an addictive-personality kind of person. … with drugs, the danger is that they run you. Your soul isn’t your own. That’s the drug problem on a personal level” (Henke 1991, 40).

Says he was doing H on and off for 8 years.

Hard to quit H, but real problem now is smokes, that last thing left. “My friends won’t let me take drugs anymore, and I don’t want to scare people anymore. Plus, I definitely have no interest in being an addict” (Henke 1991, 40).

“I still have that desire to change my consciousness, and in the last four years I’ve gotten real seriously into scuba diving.” Also gives him some physical exertion (Henke 1991, 40).

With Keelin “I have a little more time to actually be a father. My other daughters have all been very good to me, insofar as they've never blamed me for my absentee parenting. And it was tough for them, really, because during the sixties and seventies, I was gone all the time. But they've all grown up to be pretty decent people, and they still like me. We still talk. But I never did get to spend a lot of time with them." (Henke 1991, 40).

Garcia got together with Heather (daughter of Jerry and Sara Katz) for first time 18 or 19 years ... (Henke 1991, 103).

At this point, JG and MG are in the process of getting divorced. “She’s real glad to get rid of me. We had a great time, a nice life together, but we went past it. … We haven’t really lived together since the 70s” (Henke 1991, 103).

Joe died when Gar was 5. Joe played clarinet and other woodwinds, in a big ol 40 piece jazz orchestra. “My father’s sister says he was in a movie, some early talkie.” (Henke 1991, 103).

“I remember him playing me to sleep at night. I just barely remember the sound of it” (Henke 1991, 103).

Jerry watched Joe go under and drown. “It was horrible. I was just a little kid, and I didn’t really understand what was going on, but then, of course, my life changed. “ (Henke 1991, 103).

Ruth was an RN, but after Joe died she took over his bar. “He had this little bar right next door to the Sailor’s Union of the Pacific, the merchant marine’s union, right at First and Harrison, in San Francisco. It was a daytime bar, a working guy’s bar, so I grew up with all these guys who were sailors. They went out and sailed to the Far East and the Persian Gulf, the Philippines and all that, and they would come and hang out in the bar all day long and talk to me when I was a kid. It was great fun for me. I mean, that’s my background. I grew up in a bar. And that was back in the days when the Orient was still the Orient, and it hadn’t been completely Americanized yet. They’d bring back all these weird things. Like one guy had the world’s largest collection of [106] photographs of square riggers” (Henke 1991, 103, 106).

His third grade teacher Miss Simon hipped him to the possibility of being a creative type. “’You mean you can spend all day painting pictures? Wow! What a great piece of news’.” (Henke 1991, 106).

Dwight Johnson was another teacher, “he’s the guy that turned me into a freak” (Henke 1991, 106). He was a motor cycle guy, 7th grade teacher.

Talks about liking Dylan songs: “they speak to me emotionally on some level. Sometimes, I don’t even know why. Like that song, Senor. There’s something creepy about that song, but it’s very satisfying in a weird sort of way” (Henke 1991, 106). “This is talking about a kind of desperation that everybody experiences” (Henke 1991, 108). Songs-S

More fun outside the Dead. “that’s always dangling in front of me, the thing of, well, shit, if I was on my own, God, I could … “ (Henke 1991, 108).

“Bruce, Branford, Rob Wasserman and I have talked about putting something together. I had this notion of putting together a band that had no material, that just got onstage and blew. And maybe one of these days we’ll make that happen” (Henke 1991, 108).

Garcia listens to Django, Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, Coltrane. “Michael Hedges is great. And my personal favorite lately is this guy Frank Gambale, who’s been playing with Chick Corea for the past couple of years” (Henke 1991, 108).

“Living Colour is a great band … Jane’s Addiction is another band I like” (Henke 1991, 108).

“I feel like I’m a hundred million years old” (Henke 1991, 108).

Why kids keep coming to see the Dead: “There must be a dearth of fun out there in America. Or adventure. Maybe that’s it, maybe we’re just one of the last adventures in America” (Henke 1991, 108).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Reconstruction in Tempe, AZ, July 29, 1979 (CANCELED)

**update: the show was canceled, per JGBP's correspondence with show promoter, in comments**

I gather up a lot of stuff, and "processing" it takes time. I appear to have gathered the above about 2/20/2015. It bears the watermark of noted photog Jay Blakesberg, and it's a ca. July 1979 schedule of Dead-related events put out by the GD offices.

Of course, I care about the "Reconstruction Band". July 14-15 in Colorado were canceled, Garcia putatively ill (but not so ill that the GD couldn't spend some time in the studio, per a few cuts on the Beyond Description release - harumph). July 20 and 22 shows happened, the July 28 show in San Diego is uncertain (no tape, no other hard evidence), and this is the first I have seen of a listing for the band at Dooley's in Tempe, AZ.

I have no idea if the show happened. If it did, it'd be notable as the band's only out-of-state gig outside the April shows at Barry Fey's Rainbow Music Hall in Denver. **update: as noted above, and elaborated in comments, the show was sold out but canceled for reasons not recalled.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

JGMS Marx Meadows video

Wow. That is a four-minute black and white video, with sound, of JGMS playing "Sitting In Limbo" at Marx Meadows, Golden Gate Park, September 2, 1974. There's an equipment malfunction and the snippet ends on Big Steve coming out to fix some things.

Beyond the fact that this video exists, what amazes me most is that there are two horn players (h/t casable). Martin Fierro is the guy toward the right of the screen, and next to him is a guy with a beret or something and what I think is a baritone sax. update: this is Snooky Flowers! Right @ 0:39 and for a few seconds gives the clearest view of both of them. Snooky also plays a few lines later on, clearly him because Martin is shown and is not playing (see especially 2:53, and then the bari sax is audible until the sound cuts out @ 3:45).

Here's a screenie of the two of them from 0:51:

In a nice piece of convergence, on Facebook Merl Jr. captioned this pic of the show over at Facebook, noting that he himself is looking toward a cap lower down in the field, which is Snooky stooping over to roll a number. So it is definitely Snooky here. QED.

Thanks as always to Gordon the Drummer for keeping up with what hits the youtube airwaves.

BTW, love this about Garcia's apolitics: "Asked by the Barb if he sympathized the White Panther politics of the People's Ballroom, Garcia replied, 'I don't support them or not support them, but I'd just as soon play as not".

! ref: "Garcia Returns to Marx Meadows," Berkeley Barb, September 6-12, 1974, p. 2 (via Independent Voices).

Saturday, July 25, 2015

"A Shitty Father"

The title of this post comes from Garcia daughter Annabelle's remarks at his funeral on 8/11/95, probably not said in anger, almost certainly considerably true.

I don't recall Jerry speaking so frankly about this issue as here, ca. July 1981: 
I have a family – I am talking about the woman I used to live with, and my kids—and I visit them. They certainly mean something to me, but they are not the focus of my life, and they know it. It’s been hard for me to come to grips with some of this, because these are people that I care about … Music is my life. There's nothing I love more than music. 
Van Matre, Lynn. 1981. Jerry Garcia Keeps the Spirit of the Grateful Dead Alive. Chicago Tribune, July 5, p. D11.

p.s. in looking up Annabelle's remarks, I have found two versions quoted:

Thursday, July 16, 2015

light blogging

Odds are that blogging will continue to be light for awhile. I like to do more during the summer, but circumstances just don't permit right now.

Click some tags and sniff around here, or the allied blogs such as Lost Live Dead, Hooterollin Around, Grateful Dead Guide, Dead Sources, etc. Links are to the right.

In the meantime, some randomalia.

Thesis: Garcia on the side is about more music with proportionally less bullshit.
Antithesis: Garcia being JERRY GARCIA OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD, the bullshit found a way in.
Synthesis: Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger.

Also, re-reading one of my all-time faves, Voltaire's Candide, in French. Love it love it love it love it.

I wish the Dead's canceled October 1968 Europe tour would have happened, but on the other hand that might have deprived history of Mickey Hart and the Hartbeats. Not Heartbeeps, the preclusion of which might have left history better off, or so I gather.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Garcia, Cutler, Hunter, unidentified woman chatting, ca. 1970

Not much very revelatory, but nice to hear Hunter rapping, and they talk together about Altamont. Around 20, we get some Hells Angels talk.

Garcia: "It's almost like having tigers on the streets."

Hunter, in a classic case of how these guys romanticized the Angels and other outlaws: "Hells Angels are Robin Hood.

Cutler is talking about one of their leaders, and even here he doesn't name names.

Garcia: "They've got a form that works. Like one of the old brotherhoods ..." Hunter: "They've been there from time immemorial. There have always been brotherhoods." Garcia: "... Samurai warriors ..."

update: LIA has transcribed this at Deadsources.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Garcia radio program this weekend

I am just passing along the info, sounds cool.

A two-hour public radio special on Jerry Garcia & music and fans of Grateful Dead is airing this July 4th weekend.

The name of the radio program is American Routes, which airs over 300 public radio stations nationwide, and this special episode features the host Nick Spitzer's interview with Jerry Garcia, from 1989, at Smithsonian Institution. You'll also hear brief conversations with fans and security guards at a Grateful Dead concert in Washington, DC, as well as the music by Grateful Dead, and those who influenced their music.

American Routes is based in New Orleans, LA and we've been on the air for 17 years.
To find a station near you, visit
You can also hear our Jerry Garcia episode as an on-demand streaming at this link,

Insomnia, anxiety, break-ups … musicians on the dark side of touring