“Captain Trips”… Spuds… Jerry Garcia had another anniversary of his death…August 9th (1995). last week. “Dead Heads” get a bad rap…Its associated with ingesting  copious amounts of psychedelic drugs, poor hygiene and having no sense of time. A true Dead head can illustratively describe the difference between using drugs as a window into perception versus as a protective wall to shut off  real life experiences.They get dirty looks just like the people that are sequestered in the smoking section of a concert. Take it from me, I’m a functioning Dead Head! Those who are the most critical of the Dead Head lifestyle have never been to a Dead show. I can guarantee that if you had experienced a Dead concert  you’d look at the scene from an entirely different perspective.

A Young Garcia

Jerry Garcia died in 1995, age 53.  He was in a rehab facility.  He died of a heart attack. He was grossly overweight, badly diabetic, and chain smoked.  Being in rehab, he was probably clean. At least that’s what urban legend says… Jerry was an outsider who sought release in music as a teenager in high school along with Robert Hunter, who was his chief musical writing collaborator throughout his life, and a young Barbara Meier, whom he met when she was 14. Garcia was a suicidal adventurer. He did cocaine the way some people drink the stuff, and romanced heroin to the end. He was in and out of hospitals and rehab centers; in 1986 he fell into a coma. Last year he collapsed at his home and promised to reform. But that was not in his nature. “You’re out there on the edge,” [Ken] Kesey says, “where it’s beyond dangerous to your life–it’s dangerous to your soul. And Garcia was on that edge for 30 years. It’s like when the Kings of Europe asked Mozart why he drank so much? Wolfgang said, ‘Rock ‘n’ roll is hot, dry work.’ Who are we to argue with such an artist? It’s like arguing with Picasso because he was horny.”

Garcia began as a folk guitarist who was carried along to rock and psychedelia by the San Francisco’s, Haight-Ashbury stream—the band was famous for not being  interested in commercial success or  even a recording contract; until Warner Bros. Records came hunting them down to re-coup their advance money. “Capt. Trips” was both a person who could barely veer along with a  musical career. Without any musical game plan other than performing live he always felt indebted to the fans… and forced to behave properly in the presence of the Warner Bros. Records management—a conflict expressed by a record company staffer… “he was clearly the band leader but he didn’t want to lead” Unfortunately, he  was tied up with  nervous anxiety and a heroin habit  that he couldn’t  throw off. Throughout  Jerry Garcia’s short life, he saw himself as  a traveler who encounters a corpse of someone who never received a proper burial… typically stemming from an unpaid debt. Thus is the name… The Grateful Dead…

Garcia’s Death Certificate

The  ultimate statement of how addiction, life, and death grew out of Garcia’s soul..  His entire repertoire of relationships and connection to the world  which couldn’t be disentangled and separated into strands that can be repaired individually—addiction and recovery both are life processes and Jerry Garcia had a tough time with both.