Difference between revisions of "1972 Rolling Stone Interview with Jerry Garcia"
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From: Konstantin <[email protected]> Subject: 1972 Rolling Stone Interview with Jerry Garcia Message-ID: <[email protected]> Originator: [email protected] Sender: [email protected] Reply-To: [email protected] Organization: University of Virginia Date: Fri, 19 Nov 1993 04:22:26 GMT Lines: 3311 This is the interview that Rolling Stone Magazine had with Jerry Garcia in 1972. It is taken from the book, "The Rolling Stone Interviews", that came out in 1980 or so. It is reproduced without permission, so if you have any negative attitude towards people reproducing copywrighted material, without the proper permission, then don't read it. Lcking a scanner, I had to fax it to myself, and send it through a OCR program, and then correct the mistakes, of which there were many. I know that I didn't catch all of the mistakes, so you will find some, as you journey through this interview. I remember reading another Rolling Stone interview with Jerry in about 1976. If anyone knows the date of that interview, I would appreciate it if you could send me that bit of info. Or maybe someone that has it, could post it here. So sit back and enjoy!! It is quite lenghty INTERVIEWED BY JANN WENNER AND CHARLES REICH ( 1972 ) Jerry Garcia, the highly acclaimed and highly articulate lead guitarist, singer, songwriter and spokesman with the Grateful Dead, had long been a candidate for a ROLLING STONE Inter- view, but . . . well, here's how editor Wenner told it, in the fall of '71: " 'The Interview with Garcia' was always one of those things we put off into some indefinite future because Jerry was always around," he wrote. "What finally brought it on was meeting with Charles Reich, the law professor from Yale who wrote The Greening Of America. It turned out he was a Dead freak, and he hit me with the question: How come you haven't done an interview with Garcia yet? I hadn't really listened to a Grateful Dead album since their first one and had only recently heard "Casey Jones." "The truth of the matter is that I was an original Grateful Dead freak. The first time I saw them was in San Jose, California, after a Stones concert, when I wandered into a Kesey scene that turned out to be their first Acid Test. I distinctly remember walking up to someone who turned out to be Phil Lesh and asking who they were. He said, 'We're the Grateful Dead.' The impact in my state of mind at that point, was severe. Anyway, it took this professor from Yale to turn me on to the Dead again." Reich suggested that he and Jann interview the twenty-nine-year-old Garcia together. I thought his enthusiasm a little . . . naive, " said Wenner, "but what the hell . . . Reich was obviously very up on them, and I knew their past history. It would be a good combination. And God knows, Charles 'Consciousness Three' Reich meets Jerry 'Captain Trips' Garcia could turn into something of its own." In his own original introduction, Wenner picks up the action. --BF-T I CALLED UP GARCIA LAST SPRING and told him what the shot was: Reich would be on the Coast some time in early summer. Open and always amiable, he agreed. In July, Rheich was at the office raring to go and to settle who was going to make sure the tape recorder was operating correcrtly (me). Jerry Garcia lives near the Tamalpais Mountains (a range with magical significance in Northern California Indian lore) overlooking be Pacific Ocean, in a casual 1950 suburban house with his old lady, Mountain Girl, (once of the Merry Pranksters and a close friend of Kesey's in those days) and their little girl. The house is surrounded by eucalyptus trees, huge shrubs and six-foot rose bushes (beyond which is a magnificent view of the Pacific and the Far East, as far as the imagination can take you). On the front lawn, which looks onto that magnifi -cent view, Charles Reich, myself and Garria sat on a sunny afternoon and turned the tape recorder on. Five hours later, I packed up the machine and headed back to the city, not entireiy sure I could drive too well and not entirely sure at all what had just gone down. Reich was wandering around somewhere in back of the house, remarking on the vibrancy of the trees (never found out exactly when and how he left that day), and Jerry had to be somewhere at 7 for a gig. A few days later, Reich called; there was a recording session he wanted to go to and he wanted to see Jerry again . . . Sure, sure, what the fuck, I didn't know what my old aquaintance Garcia thought of me at all at that point, so might as well let it roll. I received the transcriptions of the tapes about three weeks later. What had happened was one interview that i did with Jerry, based on an old familiarity, best described as the good old Grateful Dead trip; and there was a whole ohter interview that Reich was trying to do: Garcia as spokeman, teacher, philoso- pher. If I played participant and historian, Reich was the true fan and amazed adult. To be honest, there came a point in that afternoon where I sank into my chair with my hands over my face, wanting out of the whole proposition. Reich was asking questions I thought either achingly obviovs or obviously un- answerable. Reich went back a few weeks later and did another two hours on tape. In the fall, I returned also to talk to Jerry for another four hours, to complete the interview. Charles Reich put it all into a rough chronologicai order, and then I edited it for publication. Reich is identified as the interviewer in several passages where I felt it important to indicate the dialogue between the professor and the proffessional. The rest is, at long last, "The Interview with Garcia." RS: YOU'LL BE IN OUR 100TH ISSUE. Far out. We were in the first one too, "Grateful Dead Busted." RS: I wrote that story. I loved it. It's got some stunning pictures . RS: In one picture you can see Phil in dark glasses, holding a gun. And there's a picture of Bobby handcuffed to Florence, coming down the stairs with a vic- torious grin. It was incredible. Reich: Start at the beginning. Which beginning? RS: Your beginning--the day you were born. My father was a musician. He played in jazz bands in the places that I play in San Francisco, the same ballrooms. I never knew too much about my father; he died when I was young. He played clarinet, saxophone, reeds, woodwinds. He was an immigrant, with his whole family, moved out in the Twenties or the Teens from Spain. My mother was born in San Francisco. Her mother is a Swedish lady and father is Irish, gold rush days people, who came to San Francisco then. My mother met my father somewhere back then in the Thirties, something like that; he a musician, she a nurse. Then the Depression came along, and my father couldn't get work as a musician. I under- stand there was some hassle: He was blackballed by the union or something 'cause he was working two jobs or something like that, some musician's union trip, so he wasn't able to remain a professional musician, and he became a bar- tender, bought a bar, a little bar like a lot of guys do. He died when I was real young, and my mother took over that business. All through this time there was always instru- ments around the house because of my father, and my mother played piano a little and I had lots and lots of abortive piano lessons, you know.... I can't read, I couldn't learn how to read music, but I could play by ear. My family was a singing family, on the Spanish side, every time there was a party everybody sang. My brother and my cousin and I when we were pretty young did a lot of street corner harmonizing . . . rock & roll . . . good old rhythm & blues, that kind of stuff, pop songs, all that. It was radio days, Lucky Lager Dance Time and all that. And then, my mother remarried when I was about ten or eleven or so, and she decided to get the kids out of the city, that thing, go down to the Peninsula, and we moved down to Menlo Park for about three years and I went to school down there. Somewhere before that, when I was in the third grade in San Francisco, I had a lady teacher who was a bohemian, you know, she was colorful and pretty and energetic and vivacious and she wasn't like one of those dust-covered crones that characterize old-time public school people; she was really lively. She had everybody in the class, all the kids in this sort of homogeneous school, making things out of ceramics and papier-mache. It was an art thing and that was more or less my guiding interest from that time on. I was going to be a painter and I really was taken with it. I got into art history and all of it. It was finally something for me to do. When we went down to the Peninsula, I fell in with a teacher who turned me on to the intellec- tual world. He said, ''Here, read this." It was 1984 when I was eleven or twelve. And all of a sudden it was a whole new---that was like when I was turning on, so to speak, or became aware of a whole other world that was other than the thing you got in school, that you got in the movies and all that; something very different. And so right away I was really a long way from school at that point . . . there was two or three of us that got into that because of this teacher, who ultimately got fired that same year because of being too controversial---got the kids stirred up and all that---all the classic things. We moved back to the city when I was about thirteen or so and I started going to Denman, a good old San Francisco rowdy roughneck school. I became a hoodlum, survival thing; you had to be a hoodlum, otherwise you walk down the street and somebody beat you up. I had my friends, and we were hoodlums and we went out on the weekends and did a lot of drinkm' and all that, and meanwhile I was still reading and buying books and going to San Francisco Art Institute on the weekends and just sort of leading this whole secret life. I was fifteen when I got turned on to mari- juana. Finally there was marijuana: Wow! Mari- juana! Me and a friend of mine went up into the hills with two joints, the San Francisco foothills, and smoked these joints and just got so high and laughed and roared and went skipping down the streets doing funny things and just having a helluva time. It was great, it was just what I wanted, it was the perfect, it was---and that wine thing was so awful and this marijuana was so perfect . RS: So what's happening to music all this time? Nothing much, I'm goofing around, I'm trying to play rock & roll piano and stuff like that, but I'm not settled in with my mother particularly, I'm sort of living with my grand- mother and I don't really have any instruments. I want really badly a guitar during this time, about three years, I want a guitar so bad it hurts. I go down to the pawnshops on Market Street and Third Street and wander around the record stores, the music stores and look at the electric guitars, and my mouth's watering. God, I want that so bad! And on my fifteenth birthday my mother gave me an accordion. I looked at this accordion and I said, "God, I don't want this accordion. I want an electric guitar.'' So we took it down to a pawnshop and I got this little DaneIectro, an electric guitar with a tiny little amplifier, and man, I was just in heaven. Everything! I stopped everything I was doing at the time. I tuned it to an open tuning that sort of sounded right to me, and I started picking at it and playing at it. I spent about six or eight months on it, just working things out. It was unknown at the time, there were no guitar players around. And I was getting pretty good, and finally I ran into somebody at school that played guitar. Reich: Can I ask for the date? August 1st---let's see, I was born in '42-- Christ, man, arithmetic, school, I was fifteen-- '57. Yeah, '57 there you go, it was a good year, Chuck Berry, all that stuff. RS: I wanted to get a historic date like that. Yeah, well, that's what it was, August 1st, 1957, I got my first guitar. And that was it. Somebody showed me some chords on the guitar, and that was the end of everything that I'd been doing until that time. We moved out of town up to Cazadero, which is up by the Russian River, and I went to a high school for about a year, did really badly, finally quit and joined the Army. I decided I was going to get away from everything. Yeah, seventeen. I joined the Army, smuggled my guitar in. Reich: In joining the Army, it was probably the time to leave home. Well, it was the time to leave it all. I wanted to just be some place compIeteIy different. Home wasn t working out really for me and school was ridculous and, I just wasn't working out. I had to do something. At that time the only really availabIe alternative was to join the Army, so I did that. RS: Do you have any brothers and sisters? I have an older brother. Circumstances made me a different guy from my brother. Made it always--it was difficult for me to communicate with my brother. He was in the Marines for four years. AIl that 's evened out now since he 's gone kind of through a straight trip and ....sort of fell out the other side of it, and now he 's a head, and living in the new world, so to speak, so now we can communicate whereas it used to be that we couldn't. I lasted nine months in the Army. I was at Fort Ord for basic training and then they transferred me to the Presidio in San Francisco, Fort Winfield Scott, a beautiful, lovely spot in San Francisco, overlooking the water and the Golden Gate Bridge and all that and these neat old barracks and almost nothing to do. It started me into the acoustic guitar; up until that time I had been mostly into electric guitar, rock & roll and stuff. I was stuck because I just didn' t know any- body that played guitar, and that was probably the greatest hindrance of all to learning the guitar. I just didn' t know anybody. I used to do things like look at pictures of guitar players and look at their hands and try to make the chords they were doing, anything, any little thing. I couldn't take lessons---I knew I couldn't take lessons for the piano---so I had to learn it by myself and I just worked with my ear. When I got out of the Army, I went down to Palo Alto and rejoined some of my old friends down there who were kind of Iiving off the fat of the land, so to speak, a sort of hand-to-mouth existence. Some were living off their parents; most of 'em, most people were Iiving off people who were living off their parents . Reich: This was the beginning of the dropout world? Yeah, yeah, well, we were-- well like that's the period of time I met (Robert) Hunter. Immediately after I got out of the Army. Hunter, who is Iike a really good friend of mine all this time, he 'd just gotten out of the Army--- he had an old car and I had an old car when I got out of the Army, and we were in East Palo Alto sort of coincidentally. There was a coffeehouse, 'cause of Stanford, university town and all that, and we were hanging out at the coffeehouse and ran into each other. We had our two cars in an empty lot in East Palo Alto where they were both broken. Neither of them ran anymore but we were living in them. Hunter had these big tins of crushed pineapple that he'd gotten from the Army, like five or six big tins, and I had this glove compartment full of plastic spoons, and we had this little coopera- tive scene eating this crushed pineapple day after day and sleeping in the cars and walking around. He played a little guitar, we started singin' and playin' together just for something to do. And then we played our first professional gig. We got five bucks apiece. RS: What did you and Hunter used to play? Oh, folk songs, dippy folk songs. It was before I got into a purist trip and all that. RS: Who are some of the people you met on the coffeehouse circuit? I didn't get into playing the coffeehouses until a little bit later than that, really playing coffee- houses---most of that time before that I was learning in play well enough to play anywhere--- '61 or '62, I started playing coffeehouses and the guys who were playing around then up in San Francisco at the Fox and Hounds, Nick Grav- enites was around then, Nick the Greek they called him; Pete Stampfel from the Holy Modal Rounders, he was playing around there then. A real nice San Francisco guitar player named Tom Hobson that nobody knows about, he was one of those guys that was sort of lost in the folk shuffle, but he 's still around and he 's still great. Lets see . . . in Berkeley there was Jorma (Kaukonen) playing coffeehouses about the same time that I was, and Janis (Joplin), in fact, Jorma and Janis and I met at the same time. They played at the place in Palo Alto I played at a lot called the Tangent. They came in one night and I lust flipped out. Janis was fantastic; she sounded like old Bessie Smith records, and she was really good. And Paul Kantner was playing around; David Freiberg was playing around, David and Nikelah they called themselves, him and his chick played left-handed guitar, they did these rowdy Israeli folk songs. Michael Cunney was around then too. He 's a guy that 's kind of like Pete Seeger's junior version, he 's very good, he still plays around, banjo and some. Let 's see . . . a lot of the people that are around now, that are still doing stuff now. RS: Did you begin hanging out with Jorma and Janis? Well, I wasn't really hanging our with them but our paths would be crossing, playing at the same place the same night, and pretty soon after two or three years of running into them you 're friends. You never planned it or anything like that, it's just what's happening. RS: Were you making enough money to support yourself? Nah . . . I was either not making money and mostly living off my wits, which was pretty easy to do in Palo Alto---things are very well fed---or else I was teaching guitar lessons in record stores. Hunter and I were still more or less together; at this time we're mostly living at this place called the Chateau in Palo Alto, and me and Hunter and Phil is there a lot, Phil Lesh and Pigpen and all these . . . my fellow freaks. RS: Where did they turn up? The old Palo Alto Peace Center was a great place for social trips. The Peace Center was the place where the sons and daughters of the Stanford professors would hang out and discuss things. And we, the opportunist wolf pack, the beatnik hordes, you know, would be there preying on their young minds and their refrigera- tors. And there would be all of these various people turning up in these scenes, and it just got to be very good, really high. RS: How did they come along? Phil was from Berkeley and he had spent . . . his reason for being anywhere on the Peninsula was that he had done some time at San Mateo Junior College playing in their jazz band. Now, Phil, who I met down there at the Peace Center, was at that time composing twelve-tone and serial things. He'd also been a jazz trumpet player. We were in two totally different worlds, musically. But somehow he was working at KPFA as an engineer, and I was up there at a folk music thing or something like that, and Burt Corena who ran the folk music show there wanted me to do a show for KPFA as a folk singer, so Phil and I got together at a party. He put together a tape of me playing in the kitchen and it sounded pretty good to us. He took it up there and played it for them; they dug it, so I went up to the studio and he engineered my little performance. RS: Whose idea was a it to have a band? See, what happened was, I got into old-time country music, old-time string band music, and in order to play string band music you have to have a band, you can't play it by yourself. So I would be out recruiting musicians. One of the musicians I used to play with in those days was Dave Nelson, who plays guitar for the New Riders, so that's another germ, and me and Nelson were playing old-time music and we got into bluegrass music, playing around at coffee- houses. And Bobby Weir was really a young kid at that time, learning how to play the guitar, and he used to hang around in the music store and he used to hang around at the coffeehouse. Bob came from Atherton---he's from that really upper-class trip, his folks are really weal- thy and all that; he was like the Atherton kid who was just too weird for anybody. He didn't make it in school and people were beatin' up on him and he was getting kicked out of schools all over the place. His trip was he wanted to learn to play the guitar and have a good old time, and so he'd hang around the music store.... I met him when, I was working at a music store---he was one of the kingpin pickers on the town---I always played at the coffeehouse and Weir would come and hear me play, and so it was that kind of thing. At that time he was like fifteen or something, really young. He's the kid guitar player. And the band thing kept happening various ways. Blue- grass bands are hard to put together because you have to have good bluegrass musicians to play, and in Palo Alto there wasn't really very many of them---not enough to keep a band going all the time. Now Bill Kreutzmann was working at the music store at the same time I was. My first encounter with Kreutzmann was when I bought a banjo from him way back in '61 or '62. He was just a kid then playing rock & roll. He was in high school. I may have even played a gig with him once when I was playing electric bass in a rock & roll band on weekends. Since I always liked playing whether it was bluegrass music or not, I decided to put together a jug band, because you could have a jug band with guys that could hardly play at all or play very well or anything like that. So we put together the jug band, and Weir finally had his chance to play because Weir had this uncanny ability to really play the jug and play it really well, and he was the only guy around and so he of course was the natural candidate. And Pigpen, who was mostly into playin' Lightnin' Hopkins stuff and harmonica . . . RS: Where'd he come from? He was another one of the kids from around there, he was like the Elvis Presley soul and hoodlum kid. His father was a disc jockey . . . he heard the blues, he wanted to play the blues and I was like the guitar player in town who could play the blues, so he used to hang around, that's how I got to know him, He took up harmonica and got pretty good at it for those days when nobody could play any of that stuff. So we had the jug band with Pigpen and Weir and Bob Matthews who's the head guy at Alembic Studios now, and Marmaduke (of New Riders) even played with the jug band for a while, I believe. The jug band we're talking about is pretty recent, that's like '63 . . . '63 or '64... Phil's back from '61 or '60. RS: And you ran around and played the . . . Played anyplace that would hire a jug band, which was almost no place, and that's the whole reason we finally got into electric stuff. RS: Whose idea was that? Well, Pigpen, as a matter of fact, it was Pigpen's idea. He'd been pestering me for a while, he wanted me to start up an electric blues band. That was his trip . . . because in the jug band scene we used to do blues numbers like Jimmy Reed tunes and even played a couple of rock & roll tunes, and it was just the next step. And the Beatles . . . and all of a sudden there were the Beatles, and that, wow, the Beatles, you know. Hard Day's Night, the movie and everything. Hey, great, that really looks like fun. RS: So Pig fronts the blues band . . . Yeah, well . . . theoretically it's a blues band, but the minute we get electric instruments it's a rock & roll band. Because, wow, playin' rock & roll, it's fun. Pigpen, because he could play some blues piano and stuff like that, we put him on organ immediately, and the harmonica was a natural and he was doin' most of the lead vocals at the time. We had a really rough sound, and the bass player was the guy who owned this music store that I had been workin' in, which was convenient because he gave us all the equipment; we didn't have to go out and hassle to raise money to buy equipment. But then, we were playing at this pizza parlor, this is like our first gig, we were the Warlocks, with the music store owner playing bass and Bobby and me and Pigpen . . . and Bill. And so we went . . . and played. We played three gigs at that pizza parlor. RS: What was your repertoire? We did . . . we stole a lot of . . . well, at that time, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones' "King Bee," ''Red Rooster,'' "Walking the Dog" and all that shit, we were just doing hard simple rock & roll stuff . . . old Chuck Berry stuff,, "Prom- ised Land," "Johnny B. Goode," a couple of songs that I sort of adapted from jug band material. "Stealin'" was one of those and that tune called "Don't Ease Me In'' . . . it was our first single, an old ragtime pop Texas song . . . I don t remember a lot of the other stuff. RS: That first gig . . . That first night at the pizza place nobody was there. The next week, when we played there again it was on a Wednesday night, there was a lot of kids there and then the third night there was 3-400 people . . . all up from the high schools, and in there, man, in there was this rock & roll band . . . we were playing, people were freaking out. Phil came down from San Francisco with some friends because they heard we had a rock & roll band and he wanted to hear what our rock & roll band was like, and it was a flash to see Phil because he had a Beatles haircut, and he'd been working for the post office and livin' in the Haight-Ashbury. He wasn't playin' any music. though, and he wasn't writing or composing or anything, and I said, ''Hey, listen, man, why don't you play bass with us because I know how musical you are, I know you've got absolute pitch and it wouldn't take you too long and I could show you some stuff to get you started." He said, ''Yeah, well, that'd be far out." So we got him an old guitar to practice on and borrowed a bass for him, and about two weeks later we rehearsed for a week, and we went out and started playing together. We never decided to be the Grateful Dead. What happened was the Grateful Dead came up as a suggestion because we were at Phil's house one day; he had a big Oxford Dictionary, I opened it up and the first thing I saw was "The Grateful Dead.'' It said that on the page and it was so astonishing. It was truly weird, a truly weird moment. I didn't like it really, I just found it to be really powerful. Weir didn't like it, Kreutzmann didn't like it and nobody really wanted to hear about it. But then people started calling us that and it just started, it just got out, Grateful Dead, Grateful Dead.... We sort of became the Grateful Dead because we heard there was another band called War- locks. We had about two or three months of no name and we were trying things out, different names, and nothing quite fit. RS: Like what? Oh, the Emergency Crew, uh . . . the Mythi- cal Ethical Icicle Tricycle . . . ha, ha . . . we had a million funny names, man, really, millions of 'em, huge sheets of 'em. RS: What were the others? Oh, God, man, I can't remember, really, you don't want to hear 'em, they're all really bad. Reich:I'd Iike to know about your life outside of playing. What kind of scene was that? Well, I got married back there somewhere, and it was one of those things where she got into trouble, you know, in the classic way. "I want to have the baby," "Well, okay, let's get married.'' We got married, and the parents thing and all that, and it was like I was tryin' to be straight. kinda. I was working in the music store, you know, in earnest now, and our baby was born and it was okay and all that, but it wasn't really workin'. I was really playin' music, I was playin' music during the day at the music store practic- ing, and at nights I would go out and gig. Reich: Were you interested in anything besides music? Yeah, I was interested in everything besides music. Reich: I want to hear about that, too. Well, name something. I mean, I've never had any hobbies but music; I was never doin' any- thing, but anything that came up would interest me. Reich: Well . . . Drugs, of course. Reich: Okay, let's talk for a minute about that, how they came in at that time . . . it was an old story. I'd been getting high for a long time, but marijuana turned up in the folk music world and there was speed. The thing about speed in those days was that you stayed up and raved all night, or played. The Doors of Perception and stuff like that, we were talking about. And there was mescaline; we could not find mescaline, but we could find peyote. That was the only psychedelic around at that time. Reich: Religion? Religion, yeah, Martin Buber and that whole existential thing was just leaving at that time . . . Reich: Poetry, literature, stuff like that? All that, all of that, and on all levels. That was like a continuing thing, but then along came LSD, and that was the end of that whole world. The whole world just went kablooey. Reich: Whats the date of that? Let's see, LSD came around to our scene I guess around . . . it all was sort of happening at the same time, around '64, I guess. We started hearing about it in '63 and started getting it about in '64. When we were living at the Chateau, even earlier, like '61, '62, I guess, or '63, the government was running a series of drug tests over at Stanford, and Hunter was one of the participants in these. They gave him mescaline and psilocybin and LSD and a whole bunch of others and put him in a little white room and watched him. And there were other people on the scene that were into that. Kesey. And as soon as those people had had those drugs they were immediately trying to get them, trying to find some way to cop 'em or anything, but there was no illicit drug market at that time like there is now. Reich: Two questions together; how did it change your life and how did it change your music? Well, it just changed everything, you know, it was just--ah, first of all, for me personally, it freed me, you know; the effect was that it freed me because I suddenly realized that my little attempt at having a straight life and doing that was really a fiction and just wasn't going to work out. Luckily I wasn't far enough into it for it to be shattering or anything; it was like a realiza- tion that just made me feel immensely relieved, I just felt good and it was the same with my wife--at that time it sort of freed us to be able to go ahead and live our lives rather than having to live out an unfortunate social circumstance, which is what the whole thing is about. Reich: In what sense did it free you? In making it all right to have or not have. That is, I think the first lesson that LSD taught me in sort of a graphic way was . . . just . . . it's okay to have something and it's also okay to not have it. Reich: I don t understand yet. That's it, there isn't anything to understand. Reich: No. its just a question of saying it another way Well, let's see, let me think about it. RS: Accepting things the way they are. Yeah, right. RS: When was the first time you played music on LSD ? Uh, when we were, let's see . . . we . . . oh, we were the Warlocks and we were playing in a bar in Belmont, we were playing this straight bar and we would do five sets a night, forty-five on and fifteen off, and we'd be sneaking out in the cars smoking joints between each set and so forth. One of those days we took it. We got high and goofed around in the mountains and ran around and did all kinds of stuff, and I remem- bered we had to work that night. We went to the gig and we were all a little high and it was all a little strange. It was so weird playing in a bar being high on acid, it was just too weird, it was not appropriate, definitely wasn't appropriate. The first time that music and LSD interacted in a way that really came to life for us as a band was one day when we went out and got extremely high on some of that early dynamite LSD, and we went that night to the Lovin' Spoonful . . . remember that thing, the Lovin' Spoonful what- ever, the Charlatans and whoever else down at the Family Dog, Longshoreman's Hall, it was one of the first ones, and we went there and we were stoned on acid watching these bands play. That day--the Grateful Dead guys---our scene---we went out, took acid and came up to Marin County and hung out somewhere around Fairfax or Lagunitas or one of those places up in the woods and just went crazy. We ended up going into that rock & roll dance and it was just really fine to see that whole scene---where there was just nobody there but heads and this strange rock & roll music playing in this weird building. It was just what we wanted to see. Just Goodwill junk--old clothes. I had some striped shirts---I think that was the hippest thing I owned. We had some Acid Test pants that were painted Day-Glo---but you couldn't call it hippie stuff. There never was any hippie stuff really. It was just truly fantastic. We began to see that vision of a truly fantastic thing. It became cleat to us that working in bars was not going to be right for us to be able to expand into this new idea. And about that time the Acid Test was just starting to happen. RS: How did the music change? You're still playing country music and you' re playing blues and . . . Well, we got more into wanting to go . . . to take It farther. In the nightclubs, in bars, mostly what they want to hear is short, fast stuff, uhm . . . and we were always trying to play a little, stretch out a little. . . . Mountain Girl: More . . loud. Jerry: So our trip with the Acid Test was to be able to play long and loud. Man, we can play long an loud, as long and loud as we wanted and nobody would stop us. Mountain Girl: Oh, God . . Reich: So like would you take something you'd played before and just make it longer and longer and louder and louder? And you were improvising? Of course, we were improvising cosmically, too. Because being high, each note, you know, is like a whole universe. And each silence. And the quality of the sound and the degree of emotional . . . when you're playing and you're high on acid in these scenes it is like the most important thing m the world. It's truly, phew, cosmic.... Our Consciousness concerning music is open- ing up more, so the music is becoming. . . is having more facets than it seemed to, having more dimensions . . . and we've also seen the effect of all of a sudden we find a certain kind of feeling or a certain kind of rhythm and the whole place is like a sea and it goes boom . . . boom . . . boom, it's like magic and it's like that somethlng you discover on LSD and you discover that another kind of sound will like create a whole other, you know . . We're just playing what's there, is finally what it comes down to, because we're not in a position to be deciding. RS: When did you meet Kesey and how? The Chateau, where we were all livin' several years earlier, was situated physically about two or three blocks from Kesey's place, and there were people from Kesey's that were over at our scene and so on. We didn't hang out down there too much because at the time it was a college trip, you know, they were college people kind of, and it was, it made us self-conscious to be there, we were so, you know . . . undesirable, they didn't really want us, nobody really wanted us hangin' out. When I first got into that scene, they re- minded me of college people. They were all bright and clean and their whole scene was bright and clean. They were colorful, snappy and quick---college stuff. But then, years later, here we are a rock & roll band. They were hearin' about us up at Kesey's place from our friends who are stayin' up there and gettin' high and comin' down and gettin' high with us. There was this interaction goin' on. Just like there was interaction between our scene down on the Peninsula and the San Francisco scene . . . the San Francisco scene, all these little networks of one or two guys that go back and forth; sometimes it's dealers, sometimes it's musicians, you know, that was like the old line of communi- cation. So, it became obvious since you guys are a band and we're right up here in La Honda, and we're having these parties, we want to move the parties out into the world a little bit and just see what happens. So they had this first one down in San Jose, we took our stuff down there and . . . RS: Had you met Kesey? No, I had never met Kesey. It was Page, John Page Browning, he was sort of the messenger. I don't think there was any . . . ever any real decision, just sort of a loose thing. It was in a house . . right, after the Stones concert, the same night, the same night. We went there and played but---you know, shit, our equipment filled the room, damn near, and we were hke really loud and people were just, ah . . . there were guys freakin' out and stuff and there were hundreds and hundreds of people all around, in this residential neighborhood, swarm- ing out of this guy's house. We just decided to keep on doing it, that was the gist of it. We had all these people at this house that wasn't adequate, but the idea was then to move it to a different location, and then the idea was to move it to a different location each week. They had film and endless kind of weird tape recorder hookups and mystery speaker trips and all . . . just all sorts of really strange . . it always seemed as though the equipment was able to respond in it's own way. I mean it . . there were always magical things happening. Voices coming out of things that weren't plugged in and, God . . . it was just totally mind-boggling to wander around this maze of wires and stuff like that. Sometimes they were like writhing and squirming. Truly amazing. That was the Acid Test, and the Acid Test was the prototype for our whole basic trip. But nothing has ever come up to the level of the way the Acid Test was. It's just never been equaled, really, or the basic hit of it never developed out. What happened was light shows and rock & roll came out of it, and that's like the thing that we've seen go out. RS: Where was the second Acid Test? The second Acid Test, was that at Muir Beach? Or was it at the Big Beat? Mountain Girl: It was at the Big Beat, I think. Jerry: It was at the Big Beat, a plushy little nightclub in Palo Alto. That was a real nice one. There was the stage with the Grateful Dead setup on it over here.... The Dead's onstage, and on the other side there's a kind of a long sort of a runway affair. It's sort of an L-shaped room, and on the point of the L is the Grateful Dead, and down here is where the Pranksters have their setup, which is like . . . it kinda looked like a cockpit, there was like these tables up on this runner with tape.... Mountain Girl:.... that weird table organ. Jerry: Yeah, yeah, the Day-Glo organ and all these weird tape recorders and stuff and micro- phones and Babbs, who had on one of his quasi- uniforms. Mountain Girl: That was the first week of the Pranksters shirts. Jerry. The Pranksters shirts were quasi-uni- forms, almost like uniforms but not quite, and Babbs looked kind of like a superhero. Mountain Girl: Except they were bright green and orange and white stripes and shit like that, so they were pretty loud. Jerry: Yeah, they were real bright, everything was getting real bright; that was what we were all starting to flash on then. Mountain Girl. Oh, there was the two straight ladies who owned the place or something. Jerry: Oh, right, right. They were hanging around behind the bar the whole time . . . Mountain Girl: . . . worrying what was going on. Jerry. Middle-aged ladies. Mountain Girl: We had rented this place from them for fifty or a hundred dollars or something like that. They were just freaking out. Nobody could believe that Page had gotten this place-- when we actually did come we were sort of surprised about it--because nobody ever took Page seriously; it was the first real thing he ever did . . . oh, man, we just got in there and set up our shit and everybody shows up and . . . RS: Who came? Well, all the other psychedelic scenes at that time: There was Dick Alpert and his scene, Leary and that; Leary wasn't there, Dick Alpert may have been to that one; and there was the Berkeley psychedelic scene which was pretty well de- veloped by that time because of the Cabale coffeehouse in the old days, the mescaline scene and all that. Mountain Girl: A lot of drifter Palo Alto types . . . and speed freaks, lots of speed freaks. Jerry: And weirdos. There was always weirdos at the Acid Test. There were always a lot of people that didn't know from LSD; they were like bums and hobos and strange truck driver types and shit like that who would always somehow turn up there and find themselves in this weird other world. Mountain Girl: Oh, and Neal Cassady and Ann Murphy were there. Jerry: Neal was really good. There was a strobe light in between our two setups. Just one small strobe light hanging out, but it was real bright, enough to flash the whole place because it was a fairly small room. We'd play stuff and the Pranksters would be doin' stuff and there was this incredible cross interference and weird- ness. Stewart Brand was there with his Indian stuff. Mountain Girl: He had this little slide show and recorded music, taped music, and he'd just show all these beautiful slides of Indian trips and Indian homes. Jerry: All kinds of Indian trips, things like neon arrowhead signs and highways, long ex- panses of highways that were really lovely im- ages, each one a jam. Reich: How did you get into the idea . . . playing and having this visual thing? It was just the idea of everybody having their various stuff and doing it all at once. Reich: TELL US ABOUT THE Haight-Ashbury. Where did you Iive and who did you live with and what was the scene like? We came back from L.A. and moved into Danny Rifkin's house on Seven Ten Ashbury. Actually we hung out there for about a week, we didn't actually move in because we were Iooking for a place in the country. We ended up with a ranch--Rancho Olom- palli--whlch is the site of the only Indian battle ever fought in California. It s up in Novato. It was a great place. It had a swimming pool and barns and that sort of thing. RS: Who lived at Seven Ten Ashbury? A whole bunch of people. We had just one room there, and we were kinda in and out. We were mostly just catching as catch can. We were all on our own, going around staying at different places and hanging out with people. Then we got another place out in Marin. Camp Lagunitas it was called, it used to be a summer camp. We had our office in San Fran- cisco at Ashbury because there was only one room there that was legitimately ours. Our business was done in the city, and we were living out at Camp Lagunitas. Finally we messed that up and got kicked out and we ended up back in San Francisco at Seven Ten. By this time most of the other boarders had moved out so we got the house, and a whole Iot of us moved in. Not everybody Iived there. Bobby and I and Pigpen of the band lived there, and Danny and Rock, who were our managers at the time, Tangerine, who was Rock's old lady and a really good chick, and just various other assorted people hanging out at various times. Riech: Was it like a commune? Well, our whole scene had been completely co-operative and entirely shared. We never struc- tured our situation where anybody was getting any money. What we were doing was buying food, paying rent, stuff like that. That was our basic scene, and that's basically how we still operate . Reich: How- many people came drifting in off the streets? Our place got to be a center of energy and people were in there organizing stuff. The Diggers would hang out there. The people that were trying to start various spiritual movements would be in and out; our friends trying to get vari ous benefits on for various trips would be in and out. There would be a lot of motion, a lot of energy exchanged, and it was all reaI high in those days because at that time the Haight- Ashbury was a community. We had the Psyche- delic Shop-- the very first one--down in the Haight-Ashbury, and that was news, and other people were starting to open stores and starting to get underway. They were looking real good. It was just about that same time that people started to come to town to find out about the hippie scene, and that's about what the hippie scene was--it was just the very smalI neighborhood affair when we were all v orking for each other's benefit. Most of the people of the Haight-Ashbury scene were people who had been at San Francisco State and gotten into drugs and acid and stuff like that and were living out there experimenting with all the new things that they'd discovered. It was a very high, healthy kind of thing--there were no hard drugs, only pot and LSD. Reich: No rip-offs? No paranoia? No rip-offs--none of that kind of stuff. No shootings, no bombings, no explosions. Mountain Girl: No hassles with spades. Jerry: None of that kind of stuff. Nothing that we weren' t working on or handling or taking care of pretty good. Then when the big media flash came out-- when the Time magazine guys came out and interviewed everybody and took photographs and made it news, the feedback from that killed the whole scene. It was ridiculous. We could no longer support the tiny trickle that was really supporting everybody. The whole theory in hip economics is essentially that you can have a small amount of money and move it around very fast and it would work out, but when you have thousands and thousands of people, it s just too unwieldy. And all the attempts at free food and all that, certain people had to work too hard to justify it. At the early stages we were operating com- pletely purely without anybody looking on, without anybody looking through the big win- dow. We were going along really well. And then the crowds came in. All the people who were looking for something. Mountain Girl: The Hollywood people came. RS: But it wasn't the "media" which killed the Haight. No. Do you want me to tell you the incident where I thought it started to get weird? I was walking down Haight Street, and all of a sudden in a window was a little notice. It said "Com- munications Company"--and it was that guy, what's his name--Chester Anderson? And it was this horrible bummer of a depressing story about some thirteen-year-old meth freak getting raped by nine spades and smackheads . . . it was just a bummer. Bad news. This guy took it upon himself to print up bad news and put it up Then he started putting out the whole "Free the Street" trip, and he just brought in all this political heavy-handed East Coast hard-edge shit and painted it on Haight Street, where none of it was . . . it wasn't happening like that. It was still groovy. And that was the point where I thought, this scene cannot survive with that idea in there. It just goes all wrong. RS: I was working at 'Ramparts' at the time, and I remember when Chester Anderson first came around the office and got them started on doing the first "hippie" article. He was the guy who did it. He was representa- tive of the thinking which was not inimicable to that sceneof the people who had already gone to school and heard speeches and heard all that shit. The peace movements and aIl that. Everybody had already been through being disillusioned. It represented a step backward. I thought, "Aw, man, not this shit again." I thought we had aIready gone through it and now we're into the psychedelic era. There was a whole new consciousness starting to happen and it was really working nice, but then the flood came and that was it. RS: The "flower power" thing had it's own inherent weaknesses. Right, the inability of not being abIe to say, "Get out, go away." That tells us something about what innocence is. It's that which allows itself to become no longer innocent. There's some lesson in there. There was a thing about freedom which was very much in question all through that, with the Diggers and Free and all that. Emmett [Grogan] said a thing to me once which I thought was far out, and I think it still applies. He was talking about being in his house and having somebody walk in, and the guy's rap was "Aren't I free to walk in?" And Grogan was on the trip of "Well, if there's freedom, then I'm free to kill you for entering my house. I'm free to do whatever I think I need to do." RS: What happened to move you out of that scene, and then where did you go? We didn't really move out of it--we didn't get up and leave. We hung around for a long time. We lived on Ashbury for a couple of years, anyway. Various of us were living in other parts of the Haight-Ashbury--up on the hill. Our scene has always been too big to be central, and we've never really been able to get a really big place where everybody could stay together. It just hadn't been working. We ultimately got busted in the Haight-Ashbury and that was a good reason for everybody to leave. That was the point at which we all started to leave. We just started to find new places to be. I was the first one to move out to Marin County--to Larkspur. Then everybody else came out. Reich: You have a reputation that during the Haight-Ashbury time and later, that you were the sort of spiritual adviser to the whole rock scene. That's a crock of shit, quite frankly. RS: Jefferson Airplane says that on their first or second album. I know. that's because at that time, they were making their second record and they were con- cerned about it--they didn't want it to be like their first record. And RCA had given them the producer, and he was like this straight producer who used to produce Andre Kostelanetz or somebody like that, and he didn't really know what they wanted to do, how they wanted to sound or how they wanted their thing to be. The Airplane thought it would be helpful to have somebody there who could communicate to their producer who they could communicate to, and since they all knew me and I understood their music and understood what they were doing pretty much at the time, it would be far out. I went down there and hung our and was a sort of go-between, between them and their producer and helped out with some arrangements and stuff Iike that--I just hung out. Reich: But that's a big difference from being the "guru" of the whole scene? Here's the thing--I would like to preface this whole interview by saying I'm one of those guys who's a compulsive question answerer, But that doesn't necessarily mean I'm right or anything. That's just one of the things I can do. It's kinda like having a trick memory. I can answer any question. I'm just the guy who found myself in the place of doing the talking every time there was an interview with the Grateful Dead. RS: How about among the musicians themselves? I've played with nearly all the musicians around and we all get along okay. But the whole music scene is very groovy. Here there's very little competition, very few ego games. Every- body knows what it takes to make music pretty good around here. It's that thing of being high and playing. I think it's the scene this area has that makes it attractive for musicians, and that's why a lot of them moved here. That freedom, that lack of competition, the fact that you aren't always having to battle and you can really get into what playing music is all about. But as for coming to me for advice and shit like that, that's ridiculous. That's like "Captain Trips." That's bullshit . ______________________________________ REICH: NOW, CAN I ACT LIKE A professor and ask you a long thing? People that write about rock say that it started as a rebellion, that it spoke to these needs in people to express their feelings. Tin Pan Alley was music that didn't tell the truth and rock did. The question is, do you think that rock began with that kind of revolt and has it changed? I don't know. I don't go for any of that stuff. If I were going to write about rock & roll music, I wouldn't write about it from that sociological standpoint and so forth because all that stuff really had to do with who you were. If you were wearing a black leather jacket and swinging a chain in the Fifties and listening to rock & roll, yeah, it was the music of rebellion. But if you were a musicologist following what music does, or a musician, it was something wholly different. It depends on who you were or who you are when they hit you. Reich: What I'm trying to get at is your idea of what rock meant . It was music I loved. That's what it meant; I mean it didn't mean anything--it meant have a good time, it meant rock & roll. Whatever--I like the music, that was the thing. It was the background music for the events of my life. My theme music. Them rock & roll songs--that's what was happening. The people that are writing about rock & roll are doing it as writers, and they've got to create a situation to write about. Because if you don't create something to write about, you're left with no excuse for writing. That's not true of all writers. There are some writers that write for the flash and writers that write about the flash, too. And it's easier for me to read the flash than it is for me to read about the sociology. I think you could make a better movie. Rock around the Clock think was a good movie about the source of what rock & roll was and Rock around the Clock was he background music for 1958 and that was right on. Reich: Well, if knife fights and stuff like that was the background for the Fifties, what's the scene from which your music comes now? It's everything that I've ever experienced. It's everything that we--the Grateful Dead--have ever experienced as a group. It's a combination of every crowd we've ever seen, of every time we've ever played. RS: How did you avoid the music business taking over your lives? Because nobody wanted it? Yeah . . . that's a good part of it. And with us, we've never really been successful in the music business; we've never had a superbig hit album or a hit single or anything like that. Grateful Dead freaks are our audience, you know.... We're not mass market or anything like that, which I think is supergreat. I think that we've been really lucky because we haven't had to put up with all the celebrity stuff, or star stuff. At the same time, it's been somewhat of a struggle to survive, but we're doing good, we're doing okay . . . so it worked out okay. RS: Do you, think you could cope with a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young type of success? I might be able to cope with it, but I don't think that I could be really that comfortable with it, you know, because I . . . the place where I get strung out is . . . is . . I'd like to be fair, you know, I want to be fair, so I don't like to pull the thing of having somebody at the door that says, "No, fuck you, you can't see Garcia, you know, you're not going in no matter what, no matter how good your rap is." Our backstage scene and all that is reaI open; we try to let as much stuff possible come by, and I just've gotten into the thing of being able to move around pretty fast so I don't have to get hung up into anything, but I like to let it flow rather than stop it. I think that if there's more pressure along that line--it's getting now to where maybe 50 or 100 or 200 people backstage is getting kinda outrageous and if we were like superpopular it would be that many more, and that (I'm thinking in purely physical terms) would start to get to be a problem . . . somewhere in there, if we get much more famous. That's why I feel pretty good about finishing up out Warner Bros. thing, stopping being part of that mainstream and just kinda fallin' back so t at we can continue to relate to our audience in a groovy intelligent way without having to be part of a thing that . . . really, that other world of the higher-up celebrity thing really doesn't seem to want us too badly, so, you know, we're abIe to avoid it. We're really not that good, I mean star kinda good, or big-seIling records good. RS: Do you think it'll go on for a long time . . . the band? Uh, I don't see why not. Barring everybody dying or complete disinterest or something like that. As long as it's groovy and the music is happening . . . I don't see why it shouldn't Just keep on going. We don't have any reaI plans, but we're committed to this thing . . . we're follow- ing it, we're not directing it. It's kinda like saying, "Okay, now I want to be here, now I want to go there," in a way. Nobody's making any real central decisions or anything. Every- thing's just kinda hashed out. It stumbles. It stumbles, then it creeps, then it flies with one wing and bumps into trees, and shit, you know. We're committed to it by now, after six years. What the fuck? It's still groovy for us. It's kinda like why break up the thing when it's working, when it seems to be working good and every- body's getting off. RS: What happened to Mickey (Hart)? Mickey is still working on his record. He's still got his barn and all that. He's in a good place. I saw him last night, he was at the Crosby and Nash's concert, Mickey is a very even dude. He's pretty together in his own way. He likes to walk on the edge of the cliff. But he stays cool behind it, he's able to do it. I like him. RS: What's the scene with Pigpen now? He's pretty sick. But he's living. He was really, really extremely sick. I don't really know how sick, because I never hung out at the hospital that much, although I did give him a pint of blood. We all did. He was really fucked up; his liver was full of holes and then he had some kind of perforated ulcer . . . just all kinds of bum trips from juicing all these years. And he's a young dude, man, he's only twenty-six. I think he might even be younger than that. >From juicing! It's incredible, but he survived it, and he isn't dead. He survived it, and now he's got the option of being a juicer or not being a juicer. To be a juicer means to die, so now he's being able to choose whether to live or die. And if I know Pigpen, he'll choose to live. That's pretty much where he's at. For the time being he's too sick, too weak to go on the road, and I wouldn't want to expose him to that world. I don't think it's good for him at this point. It would be groovy if he could take as long as it takes to get him to feelin' right, and then to work on his solo album and get himself together in terms of becoming . . . it's sorta like stepping out of the blues story, 'cause Pigpen is a sort of guy who's like been a victim of the whole blues trip. It's like Janis exactly, in which you must die. That's what the script says. So Pigpen went up to the line, and he's seen it now, so the question is how he's going to choose. Reich: You feel like it's on the prow of a ship up here, that's a very good way to think of it because you can see the captain's stands. Right, it's kinda like a retired admiral's place, little brass telescope, cranky parrot. Reich: That's fine, captain's cabin, that's what I've been thinking of you as, see . . . I know, that's an attractive image and some- times it seems like it, but I always thought that Kesey was. But he ain't either. Nobody is, man, there isn't anybody, it's just a convenient, its just a place you can be.... It's just a way to express yourself.... The way it works is it doesn't depend on a leader, and I'm not the leader of the Grateful Dead or anything like that; there isn't any fuckin' leader. I mean, because I can bullshit you guys real easy, but I can't bullshit Phil and Pigpen and them guys watchin' me go through my changes all these years, and we 've had so many weird times together. But it's that kind of thing--I know in front that the leader thing don't work, because you don't need it. Maybe it used to, but I don't think you need it anymore because everybody is the leader when it's the time for them to be the leader, you know what I mean, it all of a sudden, you're the guy that knows in that situation . . . RS: That's right. You know, I think the Grateful Dead, the Grateful Dead is like one dumb guy, instead of five, you know . . . dumb guys, it's like one dumb guy, and it seems like everything that we learn comes in the form of these big dumb, you know, take this, you know, the manager, kreccccchhh, and we get hit over the head, oh yeah, manager, manager, yeah, it takes like a big one for us to notice it, man. That's kind of the way I see it. RS: . . . persevering . . . Yeah, that's all we can do . . . I can't do anything else hahahaha, and the Grateful Dead is still a good trip through all of it, through all of it it's been a good trip and I've dug every minute of it, man, it's just like I really love it, it's really a good trip, and that's the payoff, ultimately, you know, and that's the reason why we're all doing it, really, that's the one thing that still makes it. And you know, now actually for us everything is making it, everything is . . . it's just going real good, it's going good enough where we can actually decide what the hell we want to do, which is--aw, fuck, what's that? ______________________________________________ RS: WHAT'S THE CREATIVE PART of making your music--do you make it as you go along on the road or do you make it when you're settled back in San. Francisco or do you make it all the time? I'd say we make it all the time. Because we've all pretty much decided after a long time that we're in fact musicians and . . . it's just some- thing you do, it's in your head, musical pieces and records and all that. As a band, for the last two years, our music has been evolving as we play it. We haven't been rehearsing because we haven't had a place to rehearse--like that's a whole other school of problems, rock & roll rehearsal spots. Reich: How does a song come into being, and how does it grow from it's beginnings into what you might hear eventually on the record? They're all different. Sometimes I'll start out with a set of chord changes that're just attractive to my ear. And then I'll hear a sketch of a melody over it. Then I'll just sort of let that be around my head, for however long it is there, for three or four weeks. I won't . . . I never try to work on stuff, you know, like sit down and labor it. But pretty soon there'll be more adjoining pieces to any one phrase, a melodic phrase, say. Then I hum it to myself for a long time and kind of play it on the guitar for everybody who's around, and then I'll get together with Hunter who writes our lyrics and we'll go through what he's got. If he's got lyrics already written that he likes I'll see if anything fits, or else we'll start working on something from scratch. But the whole thing is completely organic--there isn't . . . I don't have any scheme . . . Reich: It comes from somewhere outside. For sure. And what happens is that you're lucky enough to remember a little of it as it's going by. And then what it turns into after it's become a song in your head is it turns into a piece of material for the band--everybody plays an equal role in that part of it--and that's the way it finally evolves as a song on a record or something like that. If it's one of my songs, it's never what I originally heard, it's always some- thing that includes more than I might have conceived myself. Reich: And the words probably came by, too, is that right? Well, that's the way Hunter writes--he writes his words pretty much the same way. Things come to him, you know. An idea comes by, or a picture, an image, sort of floats by, it's all in the air kind of. It's a matter of being able to tune into it. RS: Who wrote "Casey Jones"? Me and Hunter. He wrote the words, I wrote the music. RS: Did you start off to write the same thing or did you have the melody first and then. the words? No, he had the words, and the words were just so exquisite, they were just so perfect that I just sat down with the words, picked up a guitar and played the song . . . it just came out. RS: In one sitting? Yeah, it just came out . . . it just triggered. Play it, here it is. RS: Do you alter the words when you write with Hunter? Many times, yeah . . . sometimes I use pieces of three or four of his different songs and put them together. I also adjust the phrasing. I sort of edit . . . to make the things more singable usually. But he's gotten to be really a craftsman at it lately. In the last year or so, he's gotten to really understand what it is to sing words, and just the technique, that vowels sing a certain way and consonants sing a certain way and what you have to do. Certain things you can sing real gracefully and other things you can't sing to save your soul. RS: "Truckin'" seems to be the story of the Dead. When Hunter first started writing words for us . . . originally he was on his own trip and he was a poet. He was into the magical thing of words, definitely far out, definitely amazing. The early stuff he wrote that we tried to set to music was stiff because it wasn't really meant to be sung. After he got further and further into it, his craft improved, and then he started going out on the road with us, coming out to see what life was like, to be able to have more of that viewpoint in the music, for the words to be more Grateful Dead words. "Truckin'" is the result of that sort of thing. "Truckin'" is a song that we as- sembled, it didn't . . . it wasn't natural and it didn't flow and it wasn't easy and we really labored over the bastard . . . all of us together. Reich: It comes out of somewhere in the past the , doesn't it? It comes out of nothing specific but it's really a lot of like the way it is, just a lot like the way it is, the pace of it and the flow of it and the kinda like fast thoughts that you have as things are happening around you; the ideas in it are right- on in that sense. I like "Truckin'" a lot, "Truckin'"s one of my favorites. RS: In "New Speedway Boogie" you say "one way or another, this darkness has got to end. " Have you seen that way yet? Ummmm.... Ahhh.... I think that that song's an overreaction, myself. I think that it's a little bit dire. Really, the thing that I've been seeing since Altamont is that periodically you have darkness,and periodically you have light, like the way the universe is in the yin/yang symbol. There's darkness and light, and it's the interplay that represents the game that we're allowed to play on this planet. Just the fact that there are two opposing elements in the universe is the grace of that cosmic game that we're allowed to dick around here, you know, on the planet . RS: What if somebody came up to you and asked you, "What's psychedelic music?" Ohhhhhhh, goddamn . . . Phil defined it pretty good once. He said ummmmm . . . Oh, somebody asked him once what acid rock was-- which is psychedelic music. Okay, whatever, we'll use those two as an equation--and he said, ''Acid rock is music you listen to when you're high on acid." Psychedelic music is music you listen to when you're psychedelic. I think that's what its real definition should be because subjec- tively I don't think that there really is any psychedelic music , unless except in the classical sense of music which is designed to expand consciousness. If you use that as a definition of psychedelic music, then I would say that Indian music was definitely that, and that certain kinds of Tibetan music are, too. RS: If you wanted is play all the instruments on your own record, you would lose the whole group feel, woudn't you? Yes, of course, except that that's the chal- lenge. If it were possible for me to make a record where I could play by myself and sound like the whole group, I would consider it to be a successful record. In the context of this kind of experiment and in the nature of the kind of material I'm doing on my solo album, it'll be that kind of an experiment. I'll be able to make myself sound like a band. The reason, musically, I know I can do it is because it's all coming from my head, it's going to at least agree. But then you get this unified, too-much-agreement sort of sound, and you don't have that excitement of interchange . RS: Does the group have a producer? No, we are our own producer. A producer is just one of those recording studios.... The function that a producer sometimes fills is that he's the guy who sits in the recording studio while the band plays and tells them whether they're playing well or not, what's wrong with what they're playing, whether they're out of tune, in tune, whether it needs to be a little faster and so on. He's an ear. He translates the band's wishes to the engineer. That's essentially what the producer does. Reich: How has your music changed from one record to another? The first one was called The Grateful Dead. At that time we had no real record consciousness. We were just going to go down to L.A. and make a record. We were completely naive about it. We had a producer whom we had chosen--Dave Hassinger--and we were impressed by him because he'd been the engineer on a couple of Rolling Stones records that we liked the sound of; that was as much as we were into record- making. So we went down there and, what was it we had . . . Dexamyl? Some sort of diet-watcher's speed, and pot and stuff like that. So in three nights we played some hyperactive music. That's what's embarrassing about that record now; the tempo was way too fast. We were all so speedy at the time. It has its sort of crude energy, but obviously it's difficult for me to listen to it; I can't enjoy it really. I just plain cannot enjoy it just because even as soon as we'd finished it there were things that we could hear . . . Mountain Girl: Man, it's so fast, it's just blinding! RS: What music was it? Just simply what we were doing onstage. Basically that. Just rock & roll. Plus we wanted to have one extended cut on it. But in reality, the way we played was not really too much the way that record was. Usually we played tunes that lasted a long time because we like to play a lot. And when you're playing for people who are dancing and getting high, you can dance easy to a half-hour tune and you can even wonder why it ended so soon. So for us the whole time thing was weird 'cause we went down there and turned out songs real fast--less than three minutes, which is real short. It was weird and we realized it. The first record was like a regular company record done in three nights, mixed in one day--it was done on three track, I believe--it wasn't even four track, Studio A in L.A., an imposing place--and we really didn't much care about it while we were doing it. So we weren't surprised when it didn't quite sound like we wanted it to. It's hard for me to go back to the past in terms of the music because for me it's a continuum and to stop it at one of those points it's got . . . to me it always looks underdeveloped and not quite working. Which in fact it was. RS: What kind of places were you playing at then? We were playing all the places that were trying to become the Fillmore or trying to become the Avalon, as well as the Fillmore and the Avalon. And there were places down in L. A. that were trying to get started and places in San Diego, but all the rest of that stuff is stuff that's everywhere. RS: 'This is '66 by now, something like that. Yeah, '66, right. Then on the second record, we went the whole other way. We decided we'd spend time on our record. We're going to work on it, we're going to make sure it sounds good, we're really going to get into recording and go on some trips with it. So our second record turned out to be a monumental project. We started out by record- ing for a couple of weeks, experimentally, in L.A. where we accomplished absolutely nothing. Then we went to New York to try some studios there, and we got our producer so excited that he quit. We got him uptight--because we were being so weird and he was only human after all and didn't really have to go through all that, so he decided not to go through it and we decided, "Well, we can do it ourselves." So we just worked and worked and worked--mostly Phil and I--for months, maybe as long as six months--at least six months. It was an eight- track recording, and we worked a lot in San Francisco. We assembled live tapes, and we went through the most complex operations that you can go through in a recording studio. RS: Did Phil use his background or did you just learn it from scratch? Phil used what he knew, and I was learning from scratch. I had had some experience after working with the [Jefferson Airplane, pretty nom- inal, but at least I had some idea. And we had an engineer, Dan Healy, who is like a real good fast- on-his-feet, able-to come-up-with-crazy-things en- gineer. And we worked and we assembled an enormous amount of stuff, and since it was all multi track, it all just piled up. With Anthem of the Sun, after an enormously complex period of time, we actually assembled the material that was on the master tape. Then we went through the mixing thing, which really became a performance, so Anthem of the Sun is really the performance of an eight-track tape; Phil and I performed it and it would be like four hands, and sometimes Healy would have a hand in. We'd be there hovering around the boards in these various places at Criteria Studio, Miami, and in New York. We selected, from various performances we did, the performance which seemed the most spaced, and we did that all the way through. So there's a spaced record if there is one . RS: How was the music different from the first record? We were thinking more in terms of a whole record, and we were also interested in doing something that was far our. For our oven amuse- ment--that thing of being able to do a record and really go away with it--reallv lose yourself. RS: What do you think of that second record, 'Anthem of tile Sun'? There's parts of it that sound dated. but parts of it are far out, even too far out. I feel that that 's one of those things . . . see, it 's hard for me to be able to listen to any of char stuff objectively, 'cause I tend to hear a thing like Anthem of the Sun matching it up against what it was that we thought we were gonna do, intellectually speak- ing. So I have to think of it in terms of something we were trying to do but didn't succeed in doing. I listen to what's wrong with it. I tend to listen to it in the inverse way; but on the other hand, if I have the right kind of head, and I'm not on an ego involvement trip with it . . . RS: Did the next record mark any kind of change? No. The next record was really a continuation of the Anthem of the Sun trip-- called Aoxomoxa-- a continuation in the style of having a complex record. When we started, Aoxomoxoa was an eight-track record, and then all of a sudden there was a sixteen-track recorder in the studio, so we abandoned our entire eight-track version and went to sixteen-track to start all over again. Now at the time we were sipping STP during our session, which made it a little weird--in fact, very weird. We spent too much money and too much time on that record; we were trying to accomplish too much and I was being really stupid about a lot of it, because it was material, some new runes that I had written, that I hadn't really bothered to teach anyone in the band and I was trying to record them from the ground up, and everybody was coming in and doing over dubs. It was weird--we went about it in a very fragmentary way. We didn't go about it as a group at all. RS: Some of the music is pretty strange. Now, I like that record personally, just for its weirdness, really. There are certain feelings and a certain kind of looseness that I kinda dig; but it's been our most unsuccessful record. It was when Hunter and I were both being more or less obscure. and there are lots of levels on the verbal plane in terms of the lyrics being very far out. Too far out, really, for most people. That was one of my pet records 'cause it was the first stuff that I thought was starting to sound like how I wanted to hear songs sound. And the studio stuff was successful. I'm really happy with the remix . . I hope you get a chance to hear 'em. All the new mixes that are coming out will say on them, ''Remixed.'' RS: The next one is 'Live/Dead.' It's good. It has "Dark Star" on it, a real good version of it. We'd only recorded a few gigs to get that album. We were after a certain sequence to the music. In the sense of it being a serious, long composition, musically, and then a record- ing of it, it's our music at one of its really good moments. Live/Dead was actually recorded about the same time we were working on Aoxomoxoa. If you take Live/Dead and Aoxomoxoa together, you have a picture of what we were doing at that time. We were playing Live/Dead and we were recording Aoxomoxoa. When Live/Dead came out, it was about a year out of date. After Aoxomoxa we hadn't made a studio record for almost a year since Live/Dead came out in its place. We were anxious to go to the studio, but we didn't want to incur an enormous debt making the record like we had been. When you make a record, you pay for the studio time out of your own royalties. That costs plenty. Live/Dead was not too expensive since it was recorded live. It ended up paying for the time on Aoxomoxoa, which was eight months or some really ridiculous amount of time. A hundred grand or even more than that--it was real expensive. And we ended up at our worst, in debt to Warner Bros. for around $180,000. So, when record time came around and we were getting new material together, we thought, "Let's try to make it cheap this time.'' So we rehearsed for a month or so before we went in to make Workingman's Dead. We rehearsed and we were pretty far into the material, and then we got busted in New Orleans. After we got busted, we went home to make our record. And while we were making our record, we had a big, bad scene with our manager. Actually, making the record was the only cool thing happening--everything else was just sheer weirdness. RS: How had your music changed? We were into a much more relaxed thing about that time. And we were also out of our pretentious thing. We weren't feeling so much like an experimental music group but were feeling more like a good old band. RS: Does "Casey Jones" grate on you when you hear it sometimes? Sometimes, but that's what it's supposed to do (laughs). RS: It's such a sing-songy thing.... Right. And it's got a split-second little delay which sounds very mechanical, like a typewriter almost, on the vocal, which is like a little bit jangly, and the whole thing is, well . . . I always thought it's a pretty good musical picture of what cocaine is like. A little bit evil. And hard- edged. And also that sing-songy thing, because that s what it is, a sing-songy thing, a little melody that gets in your head. RS: What songs on 'Workingman's Dead' do you particularly like? I liked all those tunes. I loved them all, (laughs) to give you the absolute and unashamed truth. I felt that they were aIl good songs. They were successful in the sense you could sing 'em, and get off and enjoy singing 'em. "Uncle John's Band" was a major effort, as a musical piece. It's one we worked on for a really long time, to get it working right. ''Cumberland Blues'' was also difficult in that sense. The song that I think failed on that record is ''High Time.'' It's a beautiful song, but I was just not able to sing it worth a shit. And I really can't do justice to that kind of song now.... I'm not that good of a singer. But I wish someone who could really sing would do one of those songs sometime. I would love to hear some good singers do that stuff. I mean, it would just tickle me. There are some people doing ''Friend of the Devil,'' I under- stand. But other than that we haven't heard of any people doing our song at all. RS: What stands out it your mind about 'American Beauty'? Each song sounds closer to the others. There isn't too much difference. And that's . . . well, I tried to block that whole trip out. You see, my mother died while we were making that record. And Phil's father died. It was raining down hard on us while that record was going on. They're good tunes, though. Every one of em s a gem, I modestly admit. RS: They had one of the few things Pigpen sings by himself. One of his own tunes. He's come up with a lot of them lately. RS: What side of you does 'American Beauty' represent? Well let's call Workingman's Dead a song record, a singing record because the emphasis is on the vocals and on the songs. And American Beauty is another record in that trend where the emphasis is on the vocals and the songs. And that's basically what we're doing, the music being more or less incidental--not incidental-- but structural rather than the end product. The records are not total indicators, they're just products. Out of the enormous amount of output that we create in the course of a year, they're that little piece that goes out to where everybody can get it. RS: The new album, the live double set, is like listening to, the old Grateful Dead It's us, man. It's the prototype Grateful Dead. Basic unit. Each one of those tracks is the total picture, a good example of what the Grateful Dead really is, musically, Rather than ''this record has sort of a country light acoustics sound '' and so on--like for a year we were a light acoustics band, in somebody's head. The new album is enough of an overview so people can see we're like a regular shoot-em-up saloon band. That's more what we are like. The tracks all illustrate that nicely. They're hot. RS: What places did you use most in that record? The one we used most of was Fillmore East. And the one we used least was Winterland. At Winterland we used one track, "Johnny B. Goode. " Reich: Why are you doing an album by yourself? I'm doing it to be completely self-indulgent-- musically. I'm just going on a trip. I have a curiosity to see what I can do and I've a desire to get into sixteen-track and go on trips which are too weird for me to want to put anybody else I know through. And also to pay for this house! RS: Are you doing it with anybody? I'll probably end up doing it with a lot of people. So far I'm only working with Bill Kreutzmann because I can't play drums. But everything else I'm going to try to play myself. Just for my own edification. What I'm going to do is what I would do if I had a sixteen-track at home. I'm just going to goof around with it. And I don't want anyone to think that it's me being serious or anything like that--it's really me goofing around. I'm not trying to have my own career or anything like that. There's a lot of stuff that I feel like doing and the Grateful Dead, just by fact that it's now a production for us to go out and play, we can't get as loose as we had been able to, so I'm not able to stay as busy as I was. It's just a way to keep my hand in so to speak, without having to turn on a whole big scene. In the world that I live in there's the Grateful Dead, which is one unit which I'm a part of, and then there's just me. And the me that's just me, I have to keep my end up in order to be able to take care of my part of the Grateful Dead. So rather than sit home and practice-- scales and stuff--which I do when I' m together enough to do it--I go out and play because playing music is more enjoyable to me than sitting home and playing scales. __________________________________________ RS: YOU GOT INTO MONEY, YOU GOT into business, you got into management duties and you got into records, and somehow you stayed yourselves. Well, we didn't really get into any of those things is the reason. See, our managers were Rock Scully and Danny Rifkin, who were really our friends, and they were a couple of heads, old-time organizers from the early Family Dog days, and they agreed to sort of manage us. Which they did as well as they could. They investigated the music business and learned as much about it as they possibly could, but really they weren't too experienced at it and we weren't very experienced at it, and so what we really managed to do in that whole world was get ourselves incredibly in debt, just amazingly in debt in just about two years. Mountain Girl: They never wrote anything down or anything like that. Jerry: And we never cared. I mean it was just a . . . it was a . . we were mostly interested in just keeping going. RS: Didn't anybody in the band think, "Hmm, we're getting more and more in debt and . . ." Well, no, because we didn't know about it. But nobody knew about it. Rock didn't know, Danny didn't know about it. Really. We didn't know about it until we tried to get ourselves completely organized. Reich: Is this a different story than the other stories? lt's similar, it's different but similar; every band has gone through trips kinda like it. Reich: So the real story is you just didn't . . . We didn't give a shit. We were just happy freaks, man; we didn't know anything about money, or bills, or any- thing of the rest of that stuff. It wasn't bad, though. Don't get the idea it was bad because it lust wasn't real, and because it wasn't real was the reason that it got so outrageously out of hand. And it wasn t until somebody started saying, hey, listen, you guys are really in big trouble . RS: Who started saying that? Lenny, who is Mickey's father. Now Lenny comes into the picture. And we had our office re- organized. RS: How did you finally get the financial act together? All of a sudden there was a concern there that was fictionalized in our minds by somebody else. It's entirely possible that we could have fixed it without ever knowing about it. But we were made conscious of it and we became paranoid; "You guys are really in big trouble; you're out of money and there's no money coming in and you're going broke, and I think these guys have been ripping you off,'' and all. That is really a poisonous kind of thinking and we went for it, foolishly we went for it and said, Okay, you be our manager. So Lenny Hart said, ''Okay, boys, I'll take care of you,'' and we thought, ''Ah, at least here's a manager that we don't have to worry about, he's an old businessman and he's Mickey's father, well, we can trust him, of course, we can trust him, you know, he's his father." But along the way all the people who were our friends and people that we trusted to work for us began to leave. He was putting them uptight . . . it was really a classical manipulation trip and really creepy. Looking back on it, at the time we were just really not sure of what was happening and we were testing Lenny a lot, too; we were putting him on the line a lot, like, 'We don't want to do these kind of gigs; we don't want to do that, or we don't want you to go out and talk to people, we want to talk to 'em ourselves, you just stay in the background as much as possible.'' I'd been concerned about our management scene because I knew that Lenny didn't under- stand us and we didn't understand him and it really wasn't working out, but we had no way to replace him. But these old friends of mine, the Parkers, who had been having straight gigs for a long time, had just gotten back from a vacation. They had nothing to do and they were kinda looking for work, and I said, ''Wow, here's some people that can maybe help us out.'' At the same time--this was after Altamont--Sam Cutler had come back to the United States after having gone through that Altamont scene and he was looking for something to do--he came and hung out at my house for a while. I thought because of his experience in the music business that maybe he could sort of look into our scene and see if maybe he could suggest some stuff. Sam started looking into it and they dis- covered that Lenny had really been taking a lot of money and that the books were really weird and there were odd bank accounts and it came down to a real heavy scene. We were recording Workingman's Dead when we actually fired Lenny; we'd just been busted in New Orleans and things were really looking heavy, this New Orleans threat hanging over our heads and Lenny was our only contact with the New Orleans District Attorney. What happened, what finally sprung it, was Ramrod, who's our head equipment guy, who's been with us a long time, said, "Either you gotta get rid of that Lenny guy or I'm quitting.'' And that flashed us: ''Wow, we can't work without Ramrod, we've gotta get rid of Lenny." RS: What did Mickey say about all this? Well, Mickey was dismayed. He'd never expected anything like that, of course. He knew his father had been into shady trips before but he thought he was reformed, just like we all did. He was really shocked, and he was right with us about our decision to get rid of Lenny. In fact, he was really good about working it out just 'cause it was so tacky. As soon as we started to get closer and closer to finding out more and more of the truth and trying to get bills and old things from Lenny, he just disappeared. A great deal has been lost and is missing and has never been filed or put anywhere . . . a lot of it . . . there's really no way of estimating how much money we've lost, as a result of that. There isn't . . . there's only sort of rough estimates. That was the weirdest ever; God, that was incredible. RS: Have you ever gotten straigtened out financially? We just got straightened out financially. RS: What makes you think it's going to last? Nothing. It won't . . . it can't last, you know; it's just that now at least we can decide to fuck up, we're at least free to decide to fuck up rather than bumping into it all the time. RS: The last time we talked about what you might do as a business by starting a true, small record company. Is that any more real now? It's as real as it was then; that is to say, it still depends on whether or not . . . what it depends on is us getting Out of our present contract, or it expiring.... Then we're in a position where we can start to think about that. We've been planning to do it seriously and really, but it's still a question of how best to . . . it's still an idea. See, Grunt Records is still RCA. There's no question about it. It's not truly independent. And our fantasy is to be completely independent, if we can do it. At this point it's open-ended. Obviously we want to be able to employ the people who are our friends. Who are talented and all that, and who are interested in what we're trying to do. That whole "Deadheads Unite" message [on the latest LP] was on that level. That's our story, like the basic groundwork, what we were gonna use. RS: Well, its not a dislike for Warner Bros. but an antipathy towards the current form of record company systems. Right. I don't think that they're that bad; I just think that they're incompetent. That's prob- ably the worst thing about them. I don't object to the idea of record companies at all; in fact, record companies are good. But we're already getting reports . . . this is the kind of thing that really fries me . . . we're getting reports that our new album has a slight skip on every record. Goddamn, it makes me want to scream. We go to every length we can to insure quality all along the line, on our end of it. We even suggest a place to Warner Bros. where they can have 'em pressed, where they can receive the attention that we want to give them. I'm gonna do it with my own record, my solo record. Insist that they be pressed at a place that uses quality vinyl and allow the proper drying time and all the test of that. Think of the billions of records that a big pressing plant has to rush through. Then when you hear that your record has a side that nobody can play, especially a double record, which is expensive, it just burns me. I feel that we have a responsibility to the people who put out their money for our record, because they are the people who are allowing us to continue what we're doing. _____________________________________________ HOW DO YOU SURVIVE IN NEW York, when you go on tour? For me, it's lock yourself in the hotel room more or less, turn on the TV, stay real high and hang out with your friends. That's one of the things about traveling with a band, like the Grateful Dead scene, a big family, and all that. You have an insular situation that reinforces what you believe to be true, although in New Yolk it looks as though it maybe isn't. I like to remain open to some extent, just in case there's anything to see. I don't like to turn people off, yet there ate people calling up and they want to talk to me and stuff like that. It's only because of being a rock & roll star and all that which makes it very weird for me there. I think it would be groovy to go there and be anonymous, walk around and see what the street scene is like, but I've never been really able to do that. RS: What good things have you? seen New York-- that you left yourself open for? Well--it's mostly people. There are like good people in New York that are kind of bravely in the middle of it there, fighting the good battle. And . . . it's like year after year you go there, you see these same few people that are hassling it out in New York and you see New York just staying the same and . . . God, it's weird. RS: Do you find traveling on the road exhausting? Yeah, yeah. The regular tour is exhausting, especially for us because we do a long show. We try and pace it so that we don't play every night, but it hardly ever works out that way. The alternatives are that you can either go out on the road and play as often as you possibly can and get it over with as quickly as possible and come back--that's like one school of thought that you can space it out and pace yourself while you're out on the road, but it means that you'll have to live out there for a while. We've tried a lot of different ways. This last tour (spring 1971) was around the East Coast and it was shorter dis- tances, 300-400 miles and that sort of thing, and we did a lot of traveling by bus, and that was really fun, we were just able to hang together all the time, we didn't have to go through a lot of airports and that. And we got to see some of the countryside. It was a little more like traveling and less like matter transmission. RS: But you play all night, that's what. . . That's what makes it hard, that's what makes it really difficult. What we're doing now is working generally two or three nights in a town, in one spot, so that we have the advantage of being able to get into the room that we're playing so that it starts to sound good by about the second night and so that we don't have that oversold house and an uptight crowd that can't get in. But really, it's getting trickier and trickier to do it, it's getting harder and harder. In Boston we played for two tights, and even so there were still about three or four thousand people outside each night that weren't able to get in because the place was sold out, and the police Maced them and did all that, it was . . . I mean, you wonder, you begin to wonder why you're doing it if what you're doing is leading people into a trap. RS: How many people go on the road? This next time there's gonna be twenty-two going out; there's us and the New Riders, and our combined equipment guys, who are Jackson, Ramrod, our guys; and Sparky, who's one of the P.A. guys; and then there's this guy Gary, who's one of the New Riders' guys; and John Hagen, who's also one of the New Riders' guys. So there's those five guys, then there's Matthews, going out to mix, and then there's both bands, so that's twenty-two. Then there's Rock, he's going along, and Hunter's going along to do the radio stuff; it's great to have Hunter on the road, he's got like the perfect viewpoint, to be able to keep you from getting too crazy out there. The more of us there are, the cooler we stay, you know what I mean? If we go out there in a small group, we feel intimidated and get weird fast. If we go out there with a lot of us, it's much cooler. Going through airports and shit like that is much easier when there's twenty people straggling through. Fuck, they don't even want to mess with you. They don't want to know who you are or nothing (laughs). Get 'em outta here! Get 'em outta here! At any rate, that's the show. _________________________________________________ WHAT HAPPENED AT ALTA- mont? Did you see what was coming? No. God, no. It was com- pletely unexpected. And that was the hard part--that was the hard lesson there--that you can have good people and good energy and work on a project and really want it to happen right and still have it all weird. It's the thing of knowing less than you should have. Youthful folly. Reich: But the things you didn't know about had nothing to do with music; they had to do with logistics and they had to do with things commercial and economic . . . Yeah, but it was the music that generated it. I think that the music knew, it was known in the music. I realized when the Rolling Stones were playing at the crowd and the fighting was going on and the Rolling Stones were playing "Sympa- thy for the Devil," then I knew that I should have known. You know, you can't put that out without it turning up on you somewhere. RS: I remember seeing that scene down at the Heliport, waiting to fly over to Altamont. Going over to the big rock festival. Mountain Girl: And that girl trying to get on the helicopter, oh, man, was she weird. RS: And there were the Stones, walking around, and the Dead. Totally weird. RS: I saw you talk to Mick for a second or two. Mountain Girl: What did he ask? "What time is the helicopter coming?" he said. And his little entourage caught up with him and forced him away so he had to keep walking real fast to keep ahead of them. RS: When you look back on it, do you see anything in those moments leading up to it? No, not really. I was completely unsuspect- ing. There was one thing beforehand that we all should have spotted. (Emmett) Grogan wrote up on the blackboard up at the Grateful Dead office, just as the site had been changed from whatever the first one was, he wrote a little slogan up on the blackboard which said something like "Char- lie Manson Memorial Hippie Love Death Cult Festival." Something along those lines, some- thing really funny, but ominous. And there had been--the street, certain people certain ele- ments of the street had been saying . . . it was a very weird time on the street in San Francisco at that time, if you recall. There was a lot of divisive hassling among all the various revolu- tionary scenes; the Red Guard was on one trip and Chicanos on some other trip and people were carrying guns and stuff, there was a lot of that kind at talk. Originally the idea was that the Stones' thing was going to be a chance for all these various community elements to participate in a sort of a party for the Rolling Stones. That was the original concept, but then we couldn't have it in Golden Gate Park, so that really was the end of the plan as it was supposed to have happened. That eliminated the possibility for any com- munity scene in San Francisco because of the transportation problem--how many Chicanos, Chinese or blacks or anything like that are going to be able to get a bus out to wherever the fuck? That was really the end of the original plan. And then we began operating on just sheer kinetic energy.... Rolling Stones was in the air, Rolling Stones, Rolling Stones, and thus it was just being swept along; but everybody was feeling--and it was all good people--everybody was feeling very good about it. Chet Helms was there doing stuff, and Emmett and Chip Monk and all these solid, together, hard-working peo- ple, but somehow the sense of it escaped every- body. RS: Whose idea was it to have the Stones to do the thing in the first place? Rock and Sam originally conceived the idea, although it was, again, it was the music, it was an idea that was in the air. It was like San Francisco had free stuff; the Rolling Stones hadn't been touring, they were suddenly going to be in the United States, somebody Rock used to know, Sam, and it just seemed as though it was an obvious step--and could have been under the right circumstances, I'm convinced--but it wasn't meant to be that. RS: Why do you think so? I've thought about it a lot. A friend of mine, Steve Gaskin, capsulized it better than I eve could about, ''Why did it happen?'' Just period, "Why did it happen?" He said, and this has been quoted somewhere else, ''Altamont was the little bit of sadism in your sex life, that the Rolling Stones put out in their music, coming back. It was the karma of putting that out for all those years, it was that little bit of red and black.'' Just there. The Hell's Angels, it's that same image. RS: Do you accept the necessity of haveing that in life, that little bit of evil? Well, it's there, whether you accept it or not. It just has to do with how you conceive your own destiny or your own journeys through life. I just think that it's there, I'm not into judging it, really, it's not my game particularly--but I do know it's there. RS: People used Altamont as an attack point on rock & roll, to prove by it that rock & roll was no good. That discussion is all gone now. I think that lt's run its course and it's all over. There's too much other shit that's happening that's too important. We've seen a change of consciousness in the last year and a half traveling around the East Coast and places like that. People are really thinking differently. At last. I think that the whole negative thing is done what it's gonna do, it's killed a lot of people and left a lot of them . . . it always does. All we can hope is that the next cycle will be faster. We'll be able to say, ''Ah, here it is. Zip! Here's your hat, what's your hurry?'' That kind of thing. Get it out, quick. Run it through, run it through fast. -------------------------------------------------- WHAT HAPPENED TO JANIS? I think it was a mistake; I think it was an accident, like driving your car off the road. I don't think that there was any why to it, really. She probably hadn't had smack for a while or something Iike that . . . she probably had a few drinks or something after a gig, coming back to the hotel, take a hit and on out, go to sleep for the night, and it was probably more than she expected, and she just died. That's how easy it can happen; it can happen to anybody if you don't know. what you're getting, and that's the way it is when you're having to deal with things that are illegal. I think that it's the law that killed Janis, if anything killed her, because she couldn't go and get exactly the right hit for herself of exactly the proper purity in a drugstore and do herself up; she wouldn't be dead now. That's the thing that I think did it. In my opinion, Janis handled it pretty good, and she got a lot of weirdness, but she was more on top of it than a lot of people I've seen. I don't think that fame killed her, I don't think that being a celebrity killed her. She just accidentally, like cutting yourself with a razor or something, just accidentally died. Reich: And Jim Morrison? It's just--everybody dies. He was a musician, and that's the only reason people are talking about him dying. If Jim Morrison had been anybody else, nobody would be talking about Jim Morrison dying. And that's the same with every other musician. Statistically people die, and that's all. Every profession--people die in it. RS: What music do you listen to now? I listen to all kinds of stuff, just all kinds of stuff. RS: Do you listen to the Band's records? Some of them I do. At first I just wanta say, "Wow, they're getting into this repetitive bag," each time I hear the record for the first time. Then after a few weeks it starts creeping into the back of my mind and I start thinking, "Wow, what was that tune?" And I go and find the record and put it on . . . it's like scratching an itch. Some of them I really dig, others I probably will, and then other ones I think are halfway efforts; it's just like anybody. I dig their music more or less consistently, so I don't really know whether the records good or not. RS: Which tunes on the the new one do you like? I love ''Life Is a Carnival'' . . . that's beautiful. Shit, that's great. All the stuff in there, all those great parts. The Dylan song is great, too. I love that song. I'll probably sing that with the barroom band. I like to do those kinda tunes. They're good songs, and good songs are fun to sing. RS: You like Robbie Robertson? Yeah, yeah. he's one of the few guys I've ever liked. I went and visited with him one day, when we were on the East Coast. And I really dug being able to sit down and talk to him. It was just like that kinda stuff you do where you've never met anybody before, but you know what they do, and you respect them. We were both kinda there cause we'd been on that tour--we'd met before, actually on that tour with Janis, that Canada thing. We got off on their music, of course, and they dug our music, 'cause really, they're kinda similar. We just have slightly different viewpoints of an almost similar trip. When I got together with him, we were talking on pretty groovy grounds, in terms of mutual respect and understanding. It was good. We talked about guitars, and pianos, and music . . . and I went over and dug his studio. Just a friendly scene. It's one of those things that sometime in the future, I'd love to be able to spend some time and actually work with those guys, actually play music together with them, under some circumstances or another. RS: How would you describe his guitar playing? He's one of those guys who descended from Roy Buchanan and those Fifties Fenderpickers. I can hear where he's picked up a lotta his stuff. His approach to it is more or less orchestral. The kinda stuff he plays and the music is like punctuation, and structural. He's an extremely subtle and refined guitar player, that's the way I think of him. I really admire him. RS: How would you describe your own guitar playing? I don't know . . . I would describe my own guitar playing as descended from barroom rock & roll, country guitar. Just 'cause that's where all my stuff comes from. It's like that blues instru- mental stuff that was happening in the late Fifties and early Sixties, like Freddie King. RS: But your guitar playing also has to do with the harmonic and the structural role.... Right, and that has to do with the way I see myself in relation to the band that I'm playing in.... It must be like much the same way Robbie Robertson sees himself, in the sense that you write songs and you tend to think a certain way, about how the music is supposed to work, what kind of background you're lining up. It depends on whether you're approaching it on the level of a texture or whatever. I tend to think of it in terms of punctuation and stuff. Same thing. When I get ready to go on the road, I make up cassettes of all my favorite music. Country & western stuff. Just whatever. Ali Akbar Khan; Crosby, Stills and Nash. RS: When did you decide to stop doing the blues stuff, the harder rock & roll thing, and go into the stressed harmonies? That was really the result of hanging out with Crosby and those guys . . . just because they could sit down in any situation and pick up an acoustic guitar and it's instant music, these beautiful vocal harmonies. I think that nothing really communicates like the human voice. It is really the ultimate instrument. I used to think of myself as a guitar player, but hearing singing, and seeing it up close, has kinda made me want to sing a lot; it just makes me want to do it, I don't really know what it is . . . and it's real satisfying to sing. I've always gotten off on a good singer, and that's what I'm basin' it on. That's part of where our music wants to go, but it's record companies and the music business structure that's making it that difficult. It should be possible for everybody to do everything, especially in music, where music can only get better when people get together in different combinations. But record companies wanta be exclusive. They're getting looser and looser, and hopefully the thing could get loose enough where everybody could do whatever they want. That would be ideal. RS: What guitarists have you learned the most from? I think Freddie King is the guy that I learned the most volume of stuff from. When I started playing electric guitar the second time, with the Warlocks, it was a Freddie King album that got almost all my ideas off of, his phrasing, really. That first one, Here's Freddie King, later it came out as Freddie King Plays Surfin' Music or something like that, it has "San-Ho-Zay" on it and "Sensation" and all those instrumentals. ________________________________________ REICH: I HAVE A QUESTION right off one of the evening talk shows, and that is, "Dr. Garcia, how do you stayay high?" I smoke a lot of dope. Reich: Do you think that's . . . Would you like some? Reich: Do you think that that's it? Well, in reality I don't really stay that high, although I get high a lot, smoking a lot of pot, is what I'm trying to say. That's what it comes down to, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'm high. A certain amount of seeming to be high has to do with my being more or less well rehearsed in the role of Jerry Garcia, 'cause it's kinda been laid on me. In reality, I'm like lots more worthless than any of that would make it appear. Reich: Among the different things the kids say about you, one is "Mr. Good Vibes." Yeah, but that always is part-true bullshit, because my old lady can tell you about how often I'm on a bummer. Really, I'm just like every- body else and it's just that I really love those times when I'm high, so my trip has always been to make them count as much as possible. Reich: What I'm trying to get at is that you believe in being high, and many other people not only don't believe in it but think it's dangerous and hatefull. Well, you know, I . . . everybody's . . . one man's poison is another man's dope. Reich : For instance, I believe in being high but not as much as you believe in it. In other words, I have more reservations about it than you do--or less experience with it, how about that? That's it right there. I don't have that many illusions about it because I was never around in that world where you had to read about it. For me, it came in the form of dope. You got a joint, you didn't get a lecture; and you got a cap, you didn't get a treatise or any of that shit. You just got high; you took the thing and found out what happened to you; that's the only evidence there is. Being programmed by dope talk or any of that stuff is like somebody trying to tell you what it's like to fuck if you've never fucked anybody. You can't know it that way, that's all, and also it'll put weird ideas in your head, misinforma- tion and shit. Misinformation is the root of all . . uh . . . ah . . . er . . . ah . . . ignorance--- nah, that's not it--ineffectuality . . . nah, fuck it, well, nice try, maybe next time. Really, I don't think that. I think that the whole discussion about drugs, whether to take them or not, is like . . . well, I don't think that there's a side on that. I know a lot of people who I respect super-highly that don't take anything, and, of course, I know people that get really high and I respect them as highly, too; and I know far-out junkies. There are people doing every- thing, and I just don't think that anything's it. Reich : How do you manage to be so optimistic? Music is a thing that has optimism built into it. Optimism is another way of saying "space.'' Music has infinite space. You can go as far into music as you can fill millions of lifetimes. Music is an infinite cylinder, it's open-ended, it's space. The form of music has infinite space as a part of it, and that, in itself, means that its momentum is essentially in that open place. Reich: You said you would only play on optimistic days or I said [ would only write on optimistic days. That might be optimum, but my experience has been that a lot of times we've played sets that we didn't like or that I didn't like, or I didn't like what I was doing, but it got on and it sounded good on tape and the audience got on. There's lots of degrees. I don't like to try to paint everything in those real, specific cartoony figures because there's degrees all over the place. For example, if I'm super-, superdepressed, I some- times play the highest music I play. Reich: How do you do it? Because music can contain all of it. It can contain your bummers, it can contain your depressions, it can contain the black despair, man, it can contain the w hole spectrum. The blues is a perfect example. The blues is that very effect, operating in a very sublime way. You hardly ever hear anybody say they're depressed because they've heard a lot of music. That's a pretty good example, right there. Even the worst music--the poorest, baddest, most ill-thought- of music on earth--doesn't hurt anybody. Reich: I know some people that are a angry at Lennon's album with the screaming and crying, they call it self-pity. Does that bother you? No. I love the album myself. Reich: I love it, too. It's very different from the kind of music the Dead plays. That's true, but we haven't been exposed to the really extreme pressure that John Lennon has. Reich: I read a book on rock & roll recently that said the real medium of rock & roll is records and that concerts are onIy repeats of records. I guess the Grateful Dead represents the opposite of that idea. Right. Our records are definitely not it or ever have been. The things we do depend so much upon the situation we're in and upon a sort of a magic thing. We aren't in such total control of our scene that we can say, ''Tonight's the night, it's going to be magic tonight.'' We can only say we're going to try it tonight. And whether it's magic or not is something we can't predict and nobody else can predict; and even when it's over and done with, it's one of those things where nobody's really sure. It's subtle and it's elusive, but it's real. Reich: And the magic comes not just from you but from the whole thing. The whole thing. The unfortunate thing about the concert situation for us is the stage; and the audience has either a dance floor where they all sit down or seats where they all stand up. It's too inflexible to allow something new to emerge. lt's a box that we've been operating in, and we've been operating in it as a survival mechanism, yet hoping to get off when we can. But basically it's not set up to let us get off, and it's not set up for the audience to get off either. The reason is that anarchy and chaos are things that scare every- body, or scare a lot of the people--except for the people that get into it. RS: Why doesn't it scare you? Because I've had enough experience with it to where I like it. It's where new stuff happens. I have never understood exactly why people get scared, but they do get scared for reasons, like to protect oneself, to protect one's own personal visions of oneself. They're all paranoid reasons. That's the thing you stimulate if you fight it. It's like any high-energy experience; if you fight it, it hurts; if you go with it, it's like surfing, it's like catching a big wave. Reich: Do you think they don't believe in magic? I think that our audience definitely does. Or, rather than dwell on the idea of magic, they know that there's a certain phenomenon that can happen, and if they come to see us enough, they've observed it, they've seen it, they've been part of it. And that's the payoff. That's the reason to keep on doing it. We know that it can happen, and the problem has been in trying to figure out how can we make that happen and at the same time keep our whole scene together on a survival level. And that's essentially what we're doing . Reich: Why is it important to get high? Why is it important to stay high? What good does it do anybody--the world, the community or people them- selves? To get really high is to forget yourself. And to forget yourself is to see everything else. And to see everything else is to become an understand- ing molecule in evolution, a conscious tool of the universe. And I think every human being should be a conscious tool of the universe. That's why I think it's important to get high. Reich: Getting zonked out or unconscious is a whole different thing. I'm not talking about unconsciousness or zonked out, I'm talking about being fully con- scious. Also I'm not talking about the Grateful Dead as being an end in itself. I don't think of that highness as being an end in itself. I think of the Grateful Dead as being a crossroads or a pointer sign, and what we're pointing to is that there's a lot of universe available, that there's a whole lot of experience available over here. We're kinda like a signpost, and we're also pointing to danger, to difficulty, we're pointing to bum- mers. We're pointing to whatever there is, when we're on--when it's really happening. RS: You're a signpost to new space? Yes. That's the place where we should be--- that's the function we should be filling in society. And in our own little society, that's the function we do fill. But in the popular world--- the media world and so forth--we're just a rock & roll band. We play rock & roll music and it's part of our form---our vehicle, so to speak--but it's not who we are totally. Like Moondog in New York City who walks around, he's a signpost to otherness. He's a signpost to something that isn't concrete. It s that same thing. RS: Where did you get the idea about pointing to new new place? We never formulated it, it just was what was happening. We were doing the Acid Test, which was our first exposure to formlessness. Formless- ness and chaos lead to new forms. And new order. Closer to, probably, what the real order is. When you break down the old orders and the old forms and leave them broken and shattered, you suddenly find yourself a new space with new form and new order which are more like the way it is. More like the flow. And we just found ourselves in that place. We never decided on it, we never thought it out. None of it. This is a thing that we've observed in the scientific method. We've watched what happens. What we're really dedicated to is not so much telling people, but to doing that thing and getting high. That's the thing; that's the payoff, and that's the whole reason for doing it, right there. Reich: Does the new culture scene seem to be falling to pieces? It does seem to be doing that, but it always seems to be doing that. It depends on what level you're looking at it. If you're looking at it on the level of what you hear about it, yeah, it's going to pieces. If you look at it on the level of the guys you know and what they're doin', I think that things are going pretty good. Everybody I know is doing stuff and nobody I know is on a particularly declining trip. Reich: That's what I see; individual people are doing fine. Then why are we being told that it's aIl dying and falling apart? I think that the people that are interested in it not dying and falling apart are probably a lot closer than we think they are. I think that's probably it. There's always somebody that has to say that it's not happening; and the people who are into saying that it's not happening are the people that aren't into stuff. Reich: You refuse to say that the rock music world is going through some terrible times and seems to be dying. I think the whole world is going through a terrible thing. RS: What about the new culture? I don't see the rock & roll scene as being the new culture. I think the rock & roll scene is just the rock & roll scene. Basically it's a professional trip. It's business and stuff like that and that the music and musicians are still a whole other world really, and I don't think that what the musicians are up to and what their heads are like is ever really filtered out into that world. The "rock scene" is a fabrication of media. Anytime you have people doing the same thing, you have shoptalk, you have a shop scene, you have a professional scene. Because music is a high- energy trip and it's important nowadays, it's this thing called the rock scene. But I know an artists' scene that's at least as clannish as the rock scene---the comic book artists' scene. It's all kinds of scenes that are all doing stuff, and accomplishing stuff and creating stuff and defin- ing culture and doing all those things that everybody says they're doing. They really are doing it, but I think that what is really new and what is happening now in the postrevolutionary thing is not being focused upon. I think that it's good that it's not, because it might have a chance to develop into something that really works before the focus lays in on it. I think that what's happening is an almost infinite number of possibilities of ways to live your life are being thought out. Ultimately people are going to be able to choose any possibility and find a scene that does it. Reich: How are you going to communicate between one kind of scene to another? Just by hanging out. Reich: The music scene comes to me through records. And it isn't that hard to translate. Some people think it is. No. I think everybody sees. Now everybody in America has had so much of the same kind of influence; communication is supereasy, and im- ages and stuff are available to everybody, and it's possible to really lay stuff out and have people know what it is. The problem with artists communicating is that the old avant-garde art world is doing what it was doing twenty years ago---it's dying and it's pretty much dead now. The new stuff, which has real energy, real vitality and really talks to people on the level of what's going on in their lives, on the level of what their personal images are and so forth, works. It's like new definitions of what has been lost in our culture in terms of where art fits in or where culture fits into people---whatever those weird terms are. Reich: Well, it's aIl in the way we tell each other about what we've found out. This leads me to our ending, something that we agree about although we come from very different worlds. We both think that everybody really knows the truth underneath aIl their appearances. Could you just say what you think that means, and then I'll say what I think it means. What the truth is? Reich: Well, when we both say that everybody knows something that most people aren't letting on to. I don't know what it means. There is some basic premise there are some basic forces that are occurring in the universe that--in inhabiting this universe---you can't escape knowing what they are. I think of it as a universal--a cosmic conspiracy. Or, the information we're plugged into is the universe itself, and everybody knows that on a cellular level. It's built in. Just superficial stuff like what happened to you in your lifetime is nothing compared to the con- tainer which holds all your information. And there's a similarity in all our containers. We are all one organism, we are all the universe, we are all doing the same thing. That's the sort of thing that everybody knows, and I think that it's only weird little differences that are making it diffi- cult. And there's been a trend among humans to try to stop everything, that we're going to stop the force called change in the universe and we're going to stay here. But it just doesn't happen. The thing that everyone should know is that change is the thing that's happening, all the time, and that it's okay to change your clothes, it's okay to change your face, it's okay to change anything. You can change. And you can create change. And you can do it knowing that it's what you're supposed to do. Reich: You and I and aIl the others in this thing have almost a conspiracy going among us. There's no losing. I think the way you can have a conspiracy is to have trust. A certain kind of trust. For example, the way the old power dynasties were built was somebody would marry somebody's sister and stuff like that and it would be blood trust, which is the old way of thinking it. But now it's like a new family trust--global village trust. The thing is that we're all earth- lings. And in the face of the enormity of the cosmos, it's best for us to stick together as earthlings. The earthling consciousness is the one that's really trying to happen at this juncture and so far it's only a tiny little glint, but it's already over. The change has already happened, and it's a matter of swirling out. It has already happened. We're living after the fact. It's a postrevolutionary age. The change is over. The rest of it is a cleanup action. Unfor- tunateiy it's very slow. Amazingly slow and amazingly difficult. Reich: But everybody knows it now? Well, if they don't, they will. Reich: So the thing is to keep on . . . Keep it on, keep it on. Just keep on keeping on, folks.