Among my interview tapes I found this one done with Bob Weir about a year after Jerry Garcia’s death. Bob covers his pre-Grateful Dead bands with Garcia – Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions and the Warlocks – and describes what it was like playing Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests. He’s refreshingly upfront about the pros and cons of performing while on psychedelic drugs back in the mid 1960s, and insists that the Grateful Dead’s psychedelic phase was over long before they recorded their 1967 debut album.
When I asked him about other musicians on the scene back then, Bob said that most of the psychedelic musicians did not keep up with what the other bands in town were doing. He did have high praise for Jerry Miller of Moby Grape, John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service, and especially Jorma Kaukonen: “If there was anyone that I was listening to or who was influencing me – or us – in 1967, it was Jorma, because we all had a pretty heady respect for him.”
I was also impressed by his insights into what caused the “Summer of Love” to come crashing down – “bathtub methedrine” – as well as his observation that a seismic shift occurred in 1968, when people quit dancing at shows and started staring at the bands: “At that point, personalities started to emerge. And, of course, the star maker machinery was more than happy to lend its weight there. And so rather than going to a concert to dance and hit on girls and stuff like that, people went to check out these personalities that they’d been hearing about. For instance, the press was more than happy to make Garcia into a demigod. And Garcia at first was more than happy to talk. You know, he loved to rave. He was verbose. And then it wasn’t too long before he started to realize, ‘Hey, this is getting out of hand.’ And it stayed out of hand, as far as he was concerned.”
There’s lots more. If you’d like to see the whole conversation, I’ve shared it here: http://jasobrecht.com/
Thanks for sharing, Jas. Very interesting indeed.