I’m not a big fan of two posts in one day. Hell, for a while there, I couldn’t manage two posts in two weeks. But I was just reminded that August 9 is the 15th anniversary of Jerry Garcia’s death. And I didn’t want it to go by without paying my respects and telling a story.
Okay. Here’s the admission. As a kid (that translates to “in my twenties”) I was a big-time Grateful Dead fan (even then, I didn’t much like the term “deadhead.” ) I went to quite a few Dead concerts on the east coast, and all of them were sold out. The shows were always crowded and wild.
Later on, I switched coasts. Very shortly after I moved to the Bay area, I saw a Garcia gig advertised for a tiny club in San Francisco. I assumed it would be quite a scene, so I went to the club three hours early to get on line. What I didn’t yet know was that Garcia just loved to jam and, when he was home, was almost always playing somewhere. When I arrived at the club it was empty. Not a soul around. I wandered to the side (The Keystone, for those who remember such things) where a door was open. Before I saw him, I could hear Garcia’s distinctive playing style emanating from inside. He was sitting a few feet away, on the edge of the small stage, playing softly. I sat there, just inside the side door, and listened for over an hour. Eventually, he started chatting with me as he played. He wound up our talk by inviting me to a softball game the following weekend up in Marin between the Dead and the Airplane (with Quicksilver Messenger Service to umpire, cheerlead and kibbitz). This photo was shot at that game.
I think he would have liked this photo. He looked good.
Garcia was an amazing musician who died much too young. Of all the times I saw him play, that private audience at the Keystone in 1972 was the sweetest.