Jerry Garcia, circa 1972

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.

Jerry Garcia, Marin circa 1975.  Photo by Steve Rossman

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.

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12 Responses to Jerry Garcia, circa 1972

  1. Warren says:

    Awesome story Steve! Thanks for sharing. I plan on sharing with my nephew who is a a big fan too.

  2. Carol says:

    Great story and picture. I was in Haight/Ashbury “back in the day” and enjoyed many a concert with The Grateful Dead. Jerry was a fun, fun-loving guy and a joy to be around. Thanks for this great post!

  3. Lynn Moon says:

    A very special personal story. Let the music play. Lynn

  4. Ruth Kuroda says:

    What a personal story of an encouter with Jerry Garcia and a cool photo to boot

  5. Steve – this is a wonderful post. Thank you. I sent it over to FB. One look at Jerry ready to step to the plate and swing the bat and I knew others had to see it.

  6. Great pic and story

  7. Rudy chimo says:

    I was also fortunate enough to see him with Merl and John at Keystone,also caught Legion of Mary in Boston in an underground cellar club,just wonderful memories, thank you for sharing yours 🙂

  8. Buzzy Cohen says:

    According to my math it is 19 years since we lost Jerry, or rather, he transitioned to the next phase.
    He was an “energy being beyond description”

  9. Reblogged this on Notes to the underground. and commented:
    Love this picture

    • steverossman says:

      I have no math. However, on the day I posted this photo in August, 2012, there had been a number of articles (if memory serves, NPR, Huff Post, etc.) reminding me that it was the 15th anniversary of his passing. In any event, the day I got to chat with Jerry while he practiced and then a few days later, watch real icons just be “folks” was quite magical and wonderful. Glad all of you enjoyed the photo and the tale. s.

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