Dark Star, an Oral Biography by Robert Greenfield
||This story, by Robert Greenfield, is an oral biography of Jerry Garcia, as told by those who knew and loved him, and while the surviving Grateful Dead members did not talk to Greenfield, voices in the piece include John Perry Barlow, Merl Saunders, Mountain Girl, David Grisman, Jorma Kaukonen and Owsley Stanley.
While this could be seen as an exploitative book, I found the stories told very lovingly. Even when we hear things we may find disturbing about this man who was so important to all of us, it is told in a non-tabloid, sensitive way.
from the inside cover of the book:
For more than thirty years, Jerome John Garcia played guitar and sang in the traveling menagerie and living social experiment called the Grateful Dead. What started as a jug band in Palo Alto evolved into a rock and rol institution, playing to audiences composed of both gray-bearded boomers and tie-dyed baby Deadheads. At the center of this phenomenon was Jerry, whose musical gifts and affable manner made him the symbol of all things magical.
In Dark Star, we see Garcia through the eyes of those closest to him, who speak fro the first time since his death: the ex-wives and lovers who did their best to make him happy but in the end always seemed to lose him to the road; the close friends who watched in helpless frustration as he battled a long-running heroin habit he tried again to kick; the children of fellow members of the Grateful Dead for whom he was the father he could never be to his own daughters; the musicians who looked up to him as a guru and an older brother.
Together, these voices present a striking portrait of a compelling artist and complex personality ------ part psychadelic guru, part ironic observer of the scene, part addict, part outlaw ------ and enduring rock and roll icon.
"It was not LSD or the sixties that made Jerry Garcia who he was," writes Greenfield. "Jerry was always Jerry. Seemingly, he came into the world not only fully formed, but, as Bruce Springsteen once sang, with 'the diamond-hard look of a cobra.' That never changed. In his beginning may well have been his end. More importantly, both were always cloaked in mystery, perhaps even to him."
Robert Greenfield is an award-winning novelist, screenwriter, playwright, and the author of Bill Graham Presents: My Life Inside Rock and Out. He lives in California.
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