In Memory of the Grateful Dead

by Susan Lakes

Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack 16 years ago this month.Our request for memories of Garcia and Grateful Dead concerts yielded these responses.

A local guy said, “I like them OK, had a couple of early albums, but I’ve only seen them once, at a really NOT typical Dead concert. Let me ‘set the stage:’ I grew up in the ‘60s in a San Francisco suburb. One year, my town had a concert series, which included the Modern Jazz Quartet, several other acts, and the Dead. This would likely have been either 1966 or ’67. This was so early in their career, they had probably only just changed their name from the Warlocks, and the venue was my local high school gym; on the stage, but in front of the curtain! That’s right, one of the bands most noted for early huge elaborate equipment setups, was in a five foot deep area, using one amp each, and even used a combo organ (just the one keyboard).I was escorted by my Dad, who liked quite a variety of music. However, the relatively empty gym was way too echo-ey, and he walked out, not because he didn’t like them (he later said he’d enjoyed their music), but because it was hurting his ears. He was not the only one who left; at least half the audience did. Venue and reception unlike anything usually implied by a Dead concert.”

A guy from Colorado said that while he didn’t have any special Dead stories about the band or the concert, he was a normal, “I’ll see you when you’re here” fan. He worked as an electrician at the University of Colorado’s Folsom Field. About the band, he said the Dead had the best group of roadies and that Jerry himself would always be available to hang out and talk with anyone, unlike some other groups.

Not the Dead. “But the Dead along with Santana or Bonnie Raitt were always real people who appreciated the fans and crew.”

Further, this fan got a surprise after the show ended. It seems that he and another person were very surprised to find a regular five foot tall dressing mirror laid out on a table in Garcia’s room. It was almost entirely covered with a white powdery substance.

“Obviously left for the tear down guys,” the fan surmised. “Always thinking of others. What a guy.”