Phil on the street outside Yale in New Haven '84, Bobby at the after-show gig for the Seva benefit in Toronto '84, Jerry on the grounds behind Merriweather in '84, and Billy at a Go Ahead gig in Seaside, NJ in '85.
What nice guys...
Let me tell you my story about an 'encounter', but first grab a cup of coffe (or your preferred beverage) and get comfy, because this will take a little while. Brevity is not my forte', so bear with me on this. The background/ back story is information that will help this all make sense.
Back in 1977, my girlfriend (now wife), myself, and two buddies decided to roadtrip from Nebraska to the old Winterland for the New Year's Eve shows in SanFran. I toted along with us a clay scupture that I had made the prior year. It was a one and 1/2 foot (in circumference) dragon that was biting/consuming it's own tail. I had 'scraffitto' (carved designs) into the entire beast's 'hide' and then it was fired and stained. It was the biggest piece of clay sculpture that I have ever made. And I thought it would be fun to give it to the band on New Years.
So away we go, get to the venue and secured tickets for the run (12/27-29-30-31-77). The shows were unbefuckinliveable (see DP # 10) and Winterland was a great hall (but I'll save that for another time and thread). But on the 31st, we were sitting on the sidewalk waiting for the doors to open, talking and watching the circus, ready to hurry and get in for the 'activities' ie. freak volleyball and Bill Graham was going to show us movies (Ray Bradbury's Illustrated Man and the original Beatles Magical Mystery tour) before that evening's show.
I thought "I better try to unload the dragon aka 'oroboros' now, it's heavy and I don't want to try to talk my way though the front gate with it." I spied a door that said 'Backstage' and began knocking on the door. No answer. The line of people on the side walk started getting up and moving toward the enterance. Banged even harder thinking "I've got to get this dragon in there so I can go in the front and join in before the show", and as I pounded harder, the door yanks open so hard that it yanks me into the doorway. This doorway is immediately filled with a gigantic black man in a red event t-shirt, who puts his hand on my chest and leans forward and bellows "WHAT DO YOU WANT?" Startled, I held out the dragon with both hands and stuttered "to give this to the band". The giant took it in his immense hand and his face curls into a grin as he held it closer to inspect it and I watched my dragon shrink to the size of a key chain. He exclaimed "Wow, what is this, I'd like one" and I explained "it's an oroboros and that is the only one there is." He grinned and said "Cool, who do you want me to give it to?" and I said "to Garcia, give it to Jerry Garcia." The giant disapeared as quickly as he appeared and the door slammed shut like the the first time Dorothy tried to get into the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz.
So, I happily gain entrance to the show and needless to say, it was something, volleyball followed by the movies, the colorful/wonderful crowd, 'rainbow' Rose with an eyedropper of liquid party favor "just one dollar per drop. On your tongue or for the adventurous, a drop in your eye" (I could go on and on, but gotta stick to the background story). Oh and when each person walked through the entrance the staff handed us a piece of paper that had a message about a "surprise at midnight".
The New Riders of the Purple Sage started the show and rocked the house. Anticipation was high and the Dead came out for the first set. Awesome, and then I noticed when the house lights went down, and the stage lights went dark inbetween songs, I saw it. On top of a monitor, inbetween Billy and Mickey, there was a flame, it was a white candle sitting in front of a dragon consuming it's tail. It was oroboros, ON STAGE WITH THE DEAD! I watched as Jerry walked over and lit a cig off the candle. They took a break and the surprise for the second half was Uncle BoBo (as Bobby liked to call Graham) dressed up as Uncle Sam on a motorcycle sliding down on a cable suspended high from the back of the hall to the stage. They put spotlights on him as he approached the stage and it ws hilarious as he came to the stage, the weight of the bike and BoBo was too much and the stage hands had to drag him onstage and then the explosion of Sugar Mag, complete with dropping ballons and baby New Years (male and female). I was 'sittin' on top of the world (Dead reference intended). What a night!!
We walked out into the cool San Francisco early morning and drove through the fog (!) back to Nebraska. This is not the end of the tale. Fast forward to another road trip to Madison, Wisc. on 2-3-78. The Dead were on a roll (see DP # 18) and it was a killer show. The next morning before I left the hotel, I got a wild hair and called the front desk and asked "Could I have Jerry Garcia's room please?" and the phone rang and Jerry answered! I said "Hey, I'm the guy that brought the dragon to the New Year's show" and Garcia said "Meet you in the coffee shop in 20 minutes". I couldn't believe what was happening but stumbled into the coffee shop at the appointed time and looked around and saw Jerry Garcia seated at a table with a ravishingly beautiful raven-haired gypsy woman.
I walked over and introduced myself, and 'shook the hand, that shook the hand, of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan'. Jerry beamed that smile and gestured and said "sit down, man". He asked me "How did you fire that dragon so that it didn't expode in the kiln?" and I explained how I had cut it in half and hollowed it and joined it back together. I told him how I had used a guitar string to 'halve it" and we locked eyes at that moment and he burst into laughter and I said "Ironic, huh?" and Jerry quiped "No, man that makes perfect sense." And then we laughed some more. Then the gypsy/beauty said "where are you from?" and I replied Nebraska. And she shot Garcia a glance and stated "he came all the way up here from Nebraska to see the band!" To which Jerry shrugged his shoulders and retorted "we didn't ask him to come" and looked at me and we both howled with laughter again. No deadhead was she.
We talked more about art and the dragon and I didn't know at that time of Garcia's interest and practice in art (this kind anyway). He was completely engaged in the topic of art, but quick witted with 'turn on a dime' twists, turns, and little commentaries on a variety of topics. Jerry was also focused on listening, not acting like he was the important one, giving me time and locked in on our discussion and talking about our shared intersets. The gypsy woman frowned in disbelief as she asked me "You went out to San Francisco for New Years and then came to Wisconson" and I said yes and then I turned to Garcia and asked him "Why don't you come back to Lincoln, Nebraska?" He said "You mean to Perishing Auditorium?" and I corrected him "No, it is Pershing Auditorium, after the army general" and he quickly retorted "No man, it was perishing really!" And we burst out laughing again. At that Lincoln, Ne. Dead show on 2-26-73, there were a bunch of drunk frat boys yelling 'boogie, boogie" at the top of their lungs, but that show is topnotch! ( a DP, really great show) Anyway, I asked Garcia "could you bring the Dead back to Nebraska" and Jerry grinned that chesire cat grin and said "who knows?"
I took my leave (their breakfast arrived) and drove home. Then that summer the Dead came back to Omaha, Ne. on 7-5-78, and I taped them with my NAK 550 in FOB, and followed them to their/my first Red Rocks shows. So that is my story, Jerry Garcia was totally gracious, engaging, enthusiastic, and kind to a deadhead who approached him at one moment in time.
The truth is realized in an instant, the Act is practiced step by step.
I met Brent after a New Orleans show in '88 (the Bangles had done two encores with the boys that night). I was right behind him entering a bar on Bourbon St. and sat next to him. I first asked him if he'd gotten into the show that night, to which he got a chuckle out of.
He was with a buddy (on the other side of him) and I enjoyed some light conversation with him over a few drinks. The other 'heads in there were real respectful of his space. He actually borrowed a couple bucks for a drink and I called him on it pre-show the next show in Houston (I think it was Houston). He turned into the stands from the stage smiled a friendly smile.
Vince used to play around Denver often in my friend's bars and would usually hang out for a few drinks in the afternoon before the shows. Very personable and blended right in with the rest of us freaks. T.C. played once too at one of the bars. A bit aloof.
I've met Phil a few times at blood drives around Denver, too. Always gracious, as well.
Had the pleasure of light and brief conversation with Mickey a bunch of years ago when he was promoting one of his Planet Drum books.
Great thing about living in the Bay Area, and working in Marin County is that i have run into most members of the band, not to mention Santana as well. When i was living in Marin i went for a walk and sat down to watch a little league game and turns out Phil's son was pitching, and i sat next to Phil and Jill and talked about baseball for like an hour. I didn't let them know i was a DH, just a couple guys watching the kids play ball. Unitl the end when i asked him when he was going back on the road. Another time i was going to the opening of PacBell park. It was an exhibition game against they Yankee's and we took the Ferry over to the stadium from Larkspur...i am standing on this crowded boat when i turn around and there is Phil and his two boys going to the game (Yankee fans btw, very cool). Meet Jerry and got his autograph at an event where he was being honored...he was very gracious even though he was in a bit of hurry. He autographed my copy of the Grateful Dead Family Album which was really sweet.
actually, bald man said "pay your respects" which we still crack up to remembering today. i reminded him about that a year later, and made some PR suggestions to him for future interactions :o) what was his name, chuck? he wasn't a pleasant fellow. (bob also seemed busy with his friends that night)
actually my mom has more luck meeting the band : )
morning dew. nice to see some familiar faces.
So a friend (the guy above that is part owner of The State Theatre) and I go to a Phil book signing at a Border's in Tysons Corner, Va in 2005.
Phil arrives and we're in line close to the front. I get up there and ask Phil to sign not the title page but the picture page because there is a pic of him at my first show, 9/1/79. As he is signing I thank him for singing Brent songs in Phil and Friends. He did not respond to that but then said "Rochester, huh? Here you go." I said thanks and that was that.
Now here is where the story gets good.
My friend was trying to come up with something snappy to say to him when he remembered the first set at Saratoga, 1985. People were hanging off the balcony and Bob was telling people to get back in their seats. Bob then says "I say Phil, my dog has no nose!" Phil responds "No nose???? How does he smell?" Bob says "Bloomin awful!"
So my friend walks up to Phil and as Phil is signing my friend says "I say Phil, my dog has no nose!!!" Phil sort of looks up and smiles, but he doesn't recall. He puts his head down and is about to write something when he looks up, pauses and says "No nose??? How does he smell??? My friend says "Bloomin awful" and they both burst out laughing.
In April of 2003, I went to see Ratdog at The State Theatre in Fall's Church, Va. It was a rainforest benefit. My friend is part owner of the club so he gives me an "after show pass" to meet the band.
After a wonderful show (how does Bob have all that energy after all these years?) I stood in line with about a dozen others waiting ot meet Bob. We first went into a room where the rest of the band was. I discussed with Jeff Chimeni (sp) the jam between Bury Me Standing and Scarlet. All of the other band members seemed like nice guys.
Bob's roadie (the bald guy, you're probably see pics of him) says to us "don't ask him for autographs, he's relaxing, he just wants to thank you for helping out (rainforest) tonight."
So we go in this other room and Bob is talking to a couple of people. I'm thinking "Wow! Bob is right there!" All of a sudden this extremely overweight guy wearing a tie dye and a baseball hat runs up to Bob and says "Hey Bob, sign my hat will ya? C'mon Bob sign it, sign." Bob has this look on his face that says this is the last place he wants to be. He says "if I sign for you I have sign for everyone." The guy keeps pestering him and there is a lot of tension in the room. Bob, to seperate himself from the guy sits down on a couch with a table between him and the rest of us.
So we're just standing around and it's awkward. I say "Hey Bob, you've been my rock-n-roll hero since I was 15, thanks for everything" and I extend my hand. He brightens and says thanks and shakes my hand. I ask 'do you mind if I get a pic with you?" He says "sure" and i sit down on the couch next to him as another fan snaps the pic...I'll get around to posting it here. After that I left, I did not want to bug him anymore.
Billy K and Brent's band Go Ahead was playing in New Haven where I was living at the time (86). They were playing at Toad's Place. So that afternoon I bring a friend of mine to the bar to show him the place where we'd be seeing the band later that night. As we're walking in Brent is walking out and we bumped right into him.
We stood there like a couple of star-struck fools. We said hello and maybe mumbled something about seeing him later that night. He acknowledged us in a friendly manner and then went on his way. He was headed toward the Yale campus. After a few minutes we chided ourselves for not saying "Hey, you want to grab some pizza or something" to him.
Great show that night.
wish i was as lucky as you dogs. never met the band, but had a hell of a time with a head named MURPH back in 99 at big boulder, pa aT GATHERING ON THE MOUNTAIN, backstage with jefferson airplane. they were soooo gracious. great bay area people.
nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile
:O) ~ nope, never worked there and I have no idea what Autodesk is . . . I believe everything you say . . . just having a little fun . . . very interesting stories here . . .