#151826  by hieronymous7
 Fri Apr 15, 2016 9:01 pm
Not a memoir, but I really enjoyed The Grateful Dead Reader, edited by Dodd & Spaulding. I dove in reading the (excellent) interviews with Phil Lesh, and then just started reading through and around the various articles from over the years. Not sure how easily available it is, though.

I enjoyed Phil's memoir & Dark Star as well.
 #151858  by Searing75
 Tue Apr 19, 2016 7:07 pm
I'm just finishing Dark Star, and feel that is awful in my opinion. It's just the dirt on Garcia. The drugs, the control, the women. It's like reading the tabloid version of his life. All the drama bull shit, and negative aspects to his personality. I don't recommend it at all.
 #151859  by zambiland
 Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:07 pm
Searing75 wrote:I'm just finishing Dark Star, and feel that is awful in my opinion. It's just the dirt on Garcia. The drugs, the control, the women. It's like reading the tabloid version of his life. All the drama bull shit, and negative aspects to his personality. I don't recommend it at all.
It was written right after his passing. I think it fulfilled the need to address the question of "WTF just happened?" At that time, before the internet was such as it is today, before everything everyone says gets right out into the open right away, a lot of us had no idea what was going on. I knew enough to know that being around the GD scene was a bummer compared to what it had been 15 years before and to form the opinion that Jerry should have quit the band in the early 80s to save his own life, but it helped to know that people who knew him felt kind of the same way. Kreutzmann's book confirmed that. Later books don't dwell on those aspects because they've been told already, but they needed telling back then. You can't learn from your mistakes if you don't acknowledge them.

You may not like it, but it was an ugly thing, drama, BS, drugs, the whole thing. If that book can keep just one person from thinking that Garcia's life was glamorous or that the drugs and drama are no big deal, then it's worth it.
 #151862  by playingdead
 Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:19 am
Not so much tabloid (as in lies) as the unvarnished truth of the matter ... anyone who saw Dead shows up close a year or two before the 1986 coma definitely saw it coming. Like anybody else, Garcia was flawed. However, he was flawed to the extreme on both sides -- emitting light and incredible music (described by several in the book as being a Buddhalike presence), but also darkness and total social dysfunction (Hal Kant had a great line in there, "Jerry just wanted people around who would do what he wanted. But he frequently had trouble deciding what that was."). "Dark Star" is the perfect title for the book.

People who are prodigiously talented often have demons or illnesses that come with it ... it can be both a blessing and curse.

To me, this book traced the arc of Garcia's life, and thus the life of the band, from an inside perspective. Not just the lovable "papa Jerry" benevolent social icon that he was (and is) in the minds of many, and that the GD organization strove to project and protect even when it became far from the truth due to the heroin, but the real person, the good and the bad. The incredibly intelligent and inquisitive mind balanced by the self-destructive side that was fed by the immense pressure of just being Jerry Garcia and having the livelihoods of all those employees dependent on you touring even when the scene had spiraled out of control.

As I think David Nelson put it, he was "like an angel, with a bad streak."

But, as I warned ...
playingdead wrote:It is a pretty riveting read, and it gets, as Garcia's life did, very dark toward the end. You come to the conclusion that he was a mystery to everyone, including himself. Every Deadhead should read this book. It really shows how the band evolved from a bunch of misfits into a huge organization that promoted light from the audience even as it grew more dark and twisted and dangerous within.
 #151867  by zambiland
 Wed Apr 20, 2016 8:01 am
"The incredibly intelligent and inquisitive mind."

That part never really left, despite the darkness. See interviews with him toward the very end. It's still there. I miss him.
 #151878  by TI4-1009
 Thu Apr 21, 2016 10:55 am
Searing75 wrote:I'm just finishing Dark Star, and feel that is awful in my opinion. It's just the dirt on Garcia. The drugs, the control, the women. It's like reading the tabloid version of his life. All the drama bull shit, and negative aspects to his personality. I don't recommend it at all.
As a long-long time Deadhead, this was the book that helped me put Jerry in three-dimensional perspective and- as mentioned above- explain WTF just happened. Heroin? Seriously?? As mentioned the internet was still very new when he died, so unless you were living in the Bay area you got most of your info from magazines or word of mouth.

Just reading Jerry's perspective on how a marriage should operate went a long way towards jolting me out of any "good ol' Jer as an ideal human being" attitude. Was it Trixie who eulogized him at his funeral with something like "He was a great guy- but a terrible Dad."? Not the way I'd like my daughters to remember me.

I love the guy, but I understand the man a lot better after reading this book.