August 9, 2012

Not Grateful He's Dead - 17 Years Ago Today

The phone rang about 9:30. “Nazz, Jerry died” 

“What are you talking about” I answered.

“Jerry died!, it just came over the news!”

“Holy shit! I guess fall tour is cancelled!” I countered.

I immediately bolted from my office and went down to the NPR radio office a couple of floors down. Sure enough, I pulled a news release that gave brief details that Captain Trips had departed a few hours before. I still have the printed teletype announcement somewhere in the Nomad archives.

I called Mrs. Nomad and she said “Well I guess that’s why the radio is playing nothing but Dead tunes”.

The rest of the day was a blur… the messages on were flying faster than they could be read. I started getting calls from other heads, while my co-workers were buzzing about (it was not exactly a well kept secret that I was into the Dead).

Later that day, the missus and I went to Central Park… it seemed to make sense to us to go over to Strawberry Fields (the John Lennon memorial area). When we got there, the area was teeming with people, playing songs, weeping and wandering around in a daze.

At some point, MTV was interviewing people and they grabbed us for an interview. I must have been more lucid than the other people they talked to, because they recorded me and the missus long enough that they actually had to change tapes. I remember saying something about how that was the end of The Grateful Dead and it would be a “sham” if the Dead carried on without Jerry under the “Grateful Dead” brand.
The next morning I start getting calls from a lot of people telling me they had seen me interviewed on TV as part of the coverage. I also got a lot of shit from people for “dissing” the Dead for saying they shouldn’t carry on. In fact, people came up to me over a year later at shows and asked me if I was “that guy”.

Fucking hippies.

A couple of days later, (with the “official” wake happening in San Francisco), thousands of people gathered in NYC in Central Park again to celebrate and mourn Jerry. We brought Princess Nomad with us (she was a tot as you can see in the picture. I remember running into people we knew, including one of Mrs. Nomad’s old boyfriends. 

A few weeks later, someone told me that I had my letter about Jerry published in Rolling Stone. Only thing was, I didn't remember ever writing a letter to Rolling Stone. But, there it was!

I’ve been to dozens of Grateful dead “offshoot” bands since… Further, The Other Ones, The Dead, Phil & Friends, Ratdog, et al. But of course it hasn’t been the same. Sometimes the shows have been better than the Grateful Dead (much better, in fact). 

But it’s never been “as good”. When Jerry died, everything changed.

Chocolate doughnuts and heroin. It killed Jerry. Watch it, kids.

Oh, how I long for the days when my worry’s were only copping a ticket to the next Dead show!

1 comment:

v-chile said...

Thanks a lot for remembering the Dead with Jerry Garcia!
All your words are absolutely right!
There are no Grateful Dead without Jerry!
The 90`s and probably the 80`s already must have been like a shock to guys like Jerry and so many others,too!
The 90`s were a terrible decade for so many guys (me,too)...