Jerry Garcia: Speaking Ill of the Dead

By John "Birdman" Bryant


Jerry Garcia, the aging hippie icon of the band Grateful Dead, is himself dead, and I for one am grateful. This fuzzy-faced drone of acid rock was a writer of songs who never wrote anything with so much as a recognizable tune, who cultivated the technique of playing the same sequence of chords over and over until eardrums began to shred and even minds not on acid began to blow, who knew how to fill an LP with nothing- in-particular because LPs are much more profitable than 45s, whose band's meaningless name reflected the band's meaningless music, who looked like nothing so much as a tub of the ice cream which was named for him, and who was followed from tour stop to tour stop by middle-class druggies with lower-class minds known as "Deadheads" who undoubtedly earned their moniker not so much from the condition of their brains or the name of their favorite band as from the fact that deadhead is a slang term for someone who slips into a performance without buying a ticket. Jerry Garcia's death was an event to blow the mind, not because the world lost anything in particular, but because Garcia was not so much a man as he was a media- created image whom the media chose to apotheosize -- an image which shall probably knock around the walls of Castle Hollywood for the next few eons, much like the ghost of Henry VIII now knocks around Castle Tudor, moaning and groaning with the sounds born of the pathology which accompanied his joints -- in Henry's case, those of his limbs; in Jerry's case, the ones he smoked.


A Correspondent Complains

First, I have to say that I agree with a lot of what you say. I was
disappointed in the article you wrote about Jerry Garcia. I must say that
Jerry Garcia explored all aspects of music. Your article shows that you have
no knowledge of music. The fact that you stated that he plays the same
chords over and over tells me that you've only listened to a fraction of his
music. He was more than just the leader of the Grateful Dead. He redefined
bluegrass, explored jazz, dabbled in gospel, and took on so many genres of
music. I respect your opinions, except when they are full of ignorance. Now
I know that you are full it. Just because his music didn't make the Top 40
doesn't mean he had no talent. There are plenty of no-talent rubes that make
the Top 40, and never make it again. He had a following that was more than
you'll ever have. A little jealousy? Maybe that would explain your
disrespectful comments about his death. Clean the bird shit off your head
and broaden your mind. Truthfully yours, JH

Birdman Responds

Let me make a confession to you that you may find surprising: I never heard any of Garcia's music that I knew to be his music. A second confession: Much of what I write is tongue in cheek. OK, so what was I writing? Answer: A comment on the genre. The hippie music from the Haight and the Family Dog. The stuff from all the weird-sounding groups like Moby Grape and Jefferson Airplane and Three-Dog Night and Lead Zeppelin. Acid rock. The long boring three-note variations that were intended to fill up the LPs (now CDs) and the empty heads of the people who listened to it. Garcia was merely someone who got the most publicity, so I chose him as a target. I might be off a little, but not much. Maybe you have a legitimate bone to pick, but I imagine not. But thanks for writing.


Addition 2006-12-28:

No, 'CIA' wasn't gratefully-dead rock guitarist Jerry Garcia's middle name -- rather it was an integral part of his LAST name: GarCIA. And that's no joke, according to a somewhat muddled confessional account of how the Grateful Dead participated in some bizarre mind control experiments on their deadhead and acid head fans. Here it is, taken from

Man, I'd hate to be the one to do this, but Cornell never really happened. Haven't you heard yet? There's been a lot of talk lately about the legendary fake show on 5/8/77. I've kept my silence on the subject for 22 years ... now it's finally time to come clean on the whole subject. The whole idea began back in late 1969/early 1970. The Department of Defense and the CIA were very disappointed by the way the Vietnam War was progressing. Not only were we losing but, more importantly, the US public did not approve of the war and, worse yet, weren't believing everything the military said about what was happening. This was an unprecedented event. Every other recent war was viewed positively by the public ... or at least with apathy in the case of Korea. Something had to be done. They decided to take a page from the Soviets and experiment with mind control. Together with Disney and a fledgling computer company called Microsoft, they set out to prove that brainwashing could really work on the very people who opposed them: the hippies. It isn't widely known but Cornell was actually the second test of these mind control procedures. The first occurred in mid-1975 and was a dismal failure. 2 major mistakes were made. First, they picked the one time that the Dead were not touring. This created all sorts of problems with the subject audience. The more serious mistake was in not updating the criteria of the experiment. Due to typical government inefficiency, they used the 1969 version of the Dead that was playing when the program was conceived. The sudden appearance of Pigpen, who had died 2 years earlier, literally blew the minds of those in attendance. 6 months were spent erasing all traces of the "show" and carefully rebuilding as much of their minds as possible. The subjects were eventually released and most of them became evangelists, their only lingering memory of the whole experiment being an unshakeable belief that they'd witnessed a true miracle. Unfortunately, no tapes have been found from this first experiment. That's a real shame because the version of Dark Star->St Stephen->Eleven->Lovelight used was supposedly the best ever. After a few drinks, the original scientists still speak in awe about the music heard that day. By Nov 1977, everyone was ready for the second test. This time, they learned from their mistakes. A small group of college students (including yours truly) were hired to attend shows from 1976 through 1977. Our job was to collect tapes of the Dead's performances, select which tunes to use, and to help identify subjects for the upcoming experiment. The location and date were chosen with equal care. It was a off-day during the tour and the location close enough to the real concerts to be believed. Of more importance was the late snowfall that day. That unusual and easily confirmed event provided the glue that would hold the implanted memories together. Even now 22 years later, people "remembering" that concert use almost identical words to describe leaving the show. Overall, the experiment was a great success. Of course, some people weregiven slightly different memories. Some, like Teddy Goodbear, "remember" taping the show and were even provided "Audience" tapes to further cement the hoax. Still others remember getting "horribly smashed" up front. None of this actually occurred. A week after the "concert" experiment, a 2nd test was done on the town of Cornell itself. In order to perfect this hoax, the town itself must also be convinced that the concert took place. Disney had acquired owner-ship of all the local TV and radio stations through dummy corporations. Using special chips developed by Microsoft, they played subliminal messages to every man, woman and child in a 100 mile radius of Barton Hall. For the most part, this programming still holds today although some people did prove resistant to the message. As far as the source of the music, for the most part the list posted by "brew ziggins" is correct. The only mystery remaining is the Scarlet->Fire. That was actually performed by the Dead specifically for this experiment. Since Jerry worked for the CIA, it was easy to convince him and the rest of the band to go along. Plus he liked the idea of "pranking"a large group of people like this. The fabled 2/6/77 "take a step back" rehearsal tape is also from material taped for these experiments.The soundboard tapes in circulation were leaked by Betty O'Connell who edited the original tapes. I don't know if it was just a coincidence or not, but they were leaked at about the same time as the tapes recorded by Betty Cantor were found. In any event, they became part of the so-called "Betty Boards". Leaking these tapes also provided the first cracks in the hoax to appear since the tapes were distributed to people who were not in the experiment and who knew that no show was performed that day. It was necessary to obtain their silence through blackmail, bribery and in extreme cases, mind control itself. That's also how this "show" came to be listed in all the popular Dead show guides like DeadBase. So what's happened to these mind control techniques used in this experiment? I got out of the program in 1978 but it's obvious that they are still being used today. Microsoft has used this power to become one of the biggest, most influential companies in history. They sure didn't become that big by providing quality products. It was used to shape public relation to the Gulf War. It's also clear that George Bush never understood the full power of these methods. After the Gulf War, the technology was leaked to a young governor who used them to be successfully elected to 2 terms as president and remain in power despite facing numerous charges that should have seen him removed from office or even thrown in prison. There are also indications that this technology might explain the otherwise unbelievable popularity of rap music. That's the whole story. I'll probably end up in jail (or worse) for revealing this but it feels good to finally get the whole thing off my chest. My buddy Scratchie, who is currently on Hiatus from rmgdead, requested that I post the real story. So here it is: In honor of the anniversary of The Greatest Show That Never Really Happened...


... six of the Grateful Dead's most recognized songs [are] "Truckin'," "Casey Jones," "Friend of the Devil," "Uncle John's Band," "Sugar Magnolia" and "St. Stephen" ... --
Birdman comment: I never so much heard of even ONE of these. My guess is that the Dead were so bad that even the radio stations wouldn't play them.]


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