A Long Strange Trip

Sparks Of Insanity By Vinny "Bond" Marini Monday, August 09, 2010

Tonight on Music On The Couch, I welcome two new-comers with a wealth of talent. Chris Hudgins and Robinson Treacher join me.

Both can sing and play like veterans. I hope you join me 9:00pm central at MUSIC ON THE COUCH

This post originally appeared on August 9, 2006. That year, I featured three posts
on three special people. This was the third of the posts, but I am going to repost each this
week to honor three incredible individuals who all passed away during the
first 10 days of August (different years).

Jerry Garcia
August 1, 1942 - August 9, 1995

The last of three dedications for this seven day period.

Jerry Garcia was also someone I admired for his enormous talent and the life he brought to the things he touched.

I’ve loved music my whole life and without music my life would be so much emptier.

I took guitar lessons when I was 8 – 10 years old or so. I hated it. Why? Well the instructor would only let me play things I was not interested in. I can remember having to play “Little Brown Jug” over and over until I wanted to take that jug and throw it against a wall. But I did learn the basics and continued to fool around.

Then as a teen, I got involved in a rock and roll band! WOOOO yeah baby…
We would practice at my house or at Wayne’s, playing the same set of songs over and over and causing our parents to want to throw something at US!

Then one day, our bass player left to pursue something else.
We were sitting around and talking about what we needed to do and someone said “Well, who is going to play bass?” In that instant it appeared all eyes were on me.

I went home and told mom and dad I needed a bass guitar and a new amplifier and I needed it right then. Off we went and bought a hollow-body violin sha
ped bass (in the style used by Paul McCartney). The band was set.

We practiced and played basement parties and church functions…never for money, but the girls sure liked us a whole bunch and that was worth more then money.

Eventually, the band broke up and my bass guitar sat in the basement until mom and dad sold the house and it went with all the other things no one wanted.

When I got to college, I was very much into Allman Brothers (who I saw at a show on LI when they opened for Mountain- but that is another story), and the other bands of the time. I had not found the Dead as of then, but that would change immediately.

My roommate Barry was a huge Deadhead and I got a total indoctrination into their history and music and I liked it—no ----I LOVED IT.

Our freshman year the Dead hit Rochester on March 30, 1973. It was an overcast day, but not too cold. We headed to the War Memorial about noon. Spent the day sitting on the steps doing some partying and having some fun. At one point a police officer
walked over and asked us what was going on. We all laughed and just shouted “THE DEAD!” He shook his head and walked away.

We were close to the doors and I almost got stuck behind one as they opened them, but was pulled around by Mike. We rushed to the stage and ended up about 4 feet away. The show was incredible. I had never been to a show where everyone was packed so close and the music so intense and the band so together.

And Jerry Garcia… OMG, fingers flying…singing his hear
t out. This was a few months after they had returned from Europe and the Europe ’72 album (YES ALBUM – VINYL!!!!) had just come out and they hit every note and the jams were flying and so were _ of the crowd.

I saw Jerry with his other project “THE JERRY GARCIA BAND” at the
Auditorium Theatre in Rochester that year. An old theatre - great acoustics…almost sitting on the stage. This was a real special evening of music and I got some great photos of him that night. Unfortunately they are buried in boxes now as I am planning on moving.

Then I began to travel around the area for shows… BuffaloNYCBostonRoosevelt Raceway in NJ…. Watkins Glen was one I was heading for and never made – Man was I ticked…

But the music was always with me. His guitar singing in my head. His voice filling in the blanks.
I was living in Boston in 1995 and doing a ton of traveling around the country on business. I was on a long trip to multiple cities when I finally landed in NYC at La Guardia one day. I made my way to my hotel, threw my stuff on the bed and flopped down… I reached for the remote and hit CNN to see what I had missed. What I heard made me stop. Jerry had died of a heart attack!

They say it was exacerbated by sleep apnea, which he had suffered with most of his adult life. His heroin addiction did not help.
Yes, he was a drug user...no big shock.

The Dead brought the use of LSD to their concerts and the shows a
lways held a cloud of pot smoke. He had been sick on and off for a few years prior and I guess all the DEADHEADS knew that if he didn’t start to take care of himself he was going to be gone soon.

That was the irony…He had checked himself into the Serenity Knolls drug rehabilitation center in Forest Knolls, California.

On his passing, he was honored by President Clinton as an “American Icon.”

His music does not only live with the Grateful Dead. He began in bluegrass playing banjo and piano. As a matter of fact, fraternity brother Tim's wife CeCe took banjo lessons from jerry back in 1963-4 at Guitar's Unlimited in Menlo Park, CA! Now how cool would it be to tell your kids something like that!

Jerry lost the top half of his middle finger on his right hand as a boy when his brother chopped it off with an ax accidently.

His works include some great music made with David Grisman. Find the music on the album "OLD AND IN THE WAY"… marvelous stuff! Jerry was also the pedal steel guitar player for the New Riders Of The Purple Sage for the first 2-3 years of their existence. He could make that sucker wail. The CSNY song “Teach Your Children”…the pedal steel on that song is Jerry.

The Dead toyed with a new form of recording music in the 70’s that involved lasers and metal discs… someone say CD’s????

Ben & Jerry, the ice cream makers named their Cherry Garcia af
ter him. For a month after his death, the ice cream was made with black cherries as a way of mourning his passing.

Dead were special in that they allowed their fans to tape their shows and swap them. Over the years, I have collected a large number of concerts. It is fun to play the same song from different shows and compare how Jerry rearranged the guitar parts depending upon his mood.

His collection of custom guitars is legendary and – unfortunately – were the subject of ownership disputes upon his death. Two of Jerry Garcia's custom guitars -- fought over in a lawsuit last year between the Grateful Dead and guitarmaker Doug Irwin (to whom the guitars were left in Garcia's will - The remaining members of the Dead had claimed ownership of the instruments)-- sold for more than $1.74 million to two anonymous buyers at a New York auction on May 8, 2002.

Tiger -- (above right) the guitar Garcia played for 11 years -- went for $850,000.
Wolf, (above left) sold for $700,000.

Detail pictures from each guitar:The buyer's commission pushed the price paid for Tiger to $957,500
and the price of
Wolf to $789,500.

Jerry studied art at the San Francisco Art Institute and that has led to a whole range of ties for men. I own a few of them and even today 11 years after his death, they are a solid seller in upscale men’s stores.

His art is collected by many.

The Clos Du Bois Winery even has a limited edition of wines bearing his name.

Jerry and the Dead were elected to the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1994.

His music and legacy lives… and will for the ages.

The Grateful Dead are certainly a taste not all can appreciate and I can understand. Some will shake their head that I am honoring a man whose life revolved around drugs, but he made me smile, he made me cry, he made me enjoy the music he wrote.

Truck on
Jerry...Truck on....
Thanks for sitting on the Couch, hope you enjoyed your stay.

4 Of Your Sparks

  1. CiCi Says:
  2. Hi there, this is a very nice tribute to Jerry Garcia. I like that you include reminiscences of your own and you know how to pay respect to a great musician even if you are not endorsing his drug use. I don't know why so many musicians are heavy drug users. My hubby was one, but thank God he is still alive. Thanks for the reminder of the anniversary of the death of a musician who still has loyal fans worldwide.

  3. Jay Says:
  4. One can be a big fan of someone's talent and their music or writing or movies or whatever they produced without supporting their lifestyle or drug use or whatever. Hunter S. Thompson is another great example of this.

    Jerry Garcia was a cool dude. And a great talent.

  5. Travis Cody Says:
  6. I never "found" The Dead. I was aware of their music and liked some of it. But I was never swept up in being a Dead Head. Oddly enough, I remember hearing the news of his death, and I remember people saying it was such a shame because he was working on overcoming his drug habit.

    I appreciated this tribute the first time I read it and I'm glad you re-visited it.

  7. Good morning, it's Sunday and I'm finally catching up on everything I've missed this week. What a beautiful post on Jerry Garcia. I met him in Philly in 1981 - the Stones and Grateful Dead were in the same hotel, LOL!!


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