Friday, February 01, 2013

Jerry Garcia's Acid Freak Out When He Thought the Mafia Was Trying to Kill Him

This is one of my favorite interviews with Jerry Garcia. It occurred in 1994, when he was pretty strung out and totally jaded 25 years after Woodstock/Altamont. In this 45-minute interview, Jerry had a few great stories to tell about Neal Cassady (starting around the 12 minute mark) and his infamous acid freak out (39 minute mark).

Interview Highlights:

0:25 Jerry already gets irked with a question about his earliest musical influences. "Do you really want to hear that?"

0:50 Jerry warms up and opens up about his love of country music came from his Grandma who liked to listen to the Grand Ole Opry.

2:10 Jerry explains his passion for the banjo and begins his quest to become an aficionado.

3:00 Jerry says the Warlocks were "not quite a blues band, but sorta like a blues band" based on the style of music the earliest incarnation of the Rolling Stones played at the time.

4:00 Jerry explains how Pig Pen was the "powerhouse" of the Warlocks.

5:30 The band was getting enough working gigs 6 days a week so they could all quit their day jobs, but they started to burn out as a bar band.

6:00 They played one of the earliest acid parties and played for a minute and freaked out.

7:00 The Acid Test gave them freedom to experiment while cooking on "highly experimental chemicals."

9:20 The Acid Tests were "100% fun."

10:00 The acid brought down the walls of "artist chauvinism."

11:50 Jerry on Neal Cassady. "He was sooo singular."

13:30 Jerry tells more Cassady stories about his crazy driving and recklessly speeding on the hills of San Francisco.

15:30 Jerry tells the infamous and hilarious story about Cassady, a broken stop sign, and old ladies walking to church.

19:10 Jerry talks about being different and how Haight-Asbury became a magnet for freaks and weirdos.

25:30 Jerry riffs on subjective reality.

27:15 Jerry relates psychedelic experiences to "dogshit on your shoe" and/or "touched by a wand."

27:45 Jerry explains how when they first started to tour nationally, how it was fun to freak straight people out based on their bizarre appearances.

28:30 The Grateful Dead's earliest shows are like games of chance...  gambling... rolling the dice... you never knew what would happen.

29:30 The Dead always had problems deciding what (songs) to play.

30:00 Jerry makes fun of his songwriting, but explains how its a craft and how Robert Hunter is like 50x better, and that he's a much better collaborator.

32:20 Requests? Don't make them because the band won't do it.

34:30 Jerry talks about why he likes "I Know You Rider."

39:00 Jerry talks about a major acid freak out in which he was backstage at a show and ate some cake laced with 800 hits of acid and he was so spun that he was convinced mafia guys were going to kill him that night, so he went on stage completely terrified and tripping balls and how "I'm going to go out there and play, and they are going to fucking kill me." But Jerry pulled it together and decided to "play for my life... and they let me live."

42:45 Jerry says "rap is not music, it's talking.... it's talking in meter."

43:45 Jerry thinks all new music is derivative.

44:45 Jerry debates technique vs. substance. Reminds me of Trey's "it's all about energy" speech from Bittersweet Motel.


Gary said...

Thanks for the highlights. Gave it some structure.

Mike of Richmond said...

I wonder what show Jerry played for his life when he thought the mafia was coming for him.