Jul 23 2009
Dave Torbert, left, David Nelson, Mickey Hart, Jerry Garcia and John Dawson, circa 1970. Hart and Garcia, members of the Grateful Dead, played with the New Riders of the Purple Sage for a time.
The things I won’t get a chance to say anymore to some old pals – Wish that I could. Oh – the Things…
John Dawson died 2 weeks ago, Jerry Garcia passed through the Gate 14 yrs. ago, this week. I’ll never see them again. Guess my time’s comin’ too.
But the things I wish I could say to them right now would only SERVE ME! They’re dead. One of the items that drives me crazy! I’m fairly well balanced, for a human. I dealt with their imminent passing rather well. I got sober 20 years ago, no regrets – I’ve been able to live a reasonably happy life. I knew they were going away, it seemed only a matter of time. It’s not like they were snatched away through some tragic accident, or such. They seemed to be hell–bent for croakin’ the way they were trying to exist.
In the magical universe, I would like to tell McDuke that I loved him and Jerry, just one more time. To tell them how much their music has done for me, made a lifelong career for me. From the time Garcia asked me to BE a New Rider in 1970 on the Train, backed up by Nelson and Dawson, I’ve worked.
I’m sitting in a dorm palace at Virginia Tech w/NRPS, languishing with time off (no gigs!), backround music is Garcia – from early Dead to JGB. No use in waxing cynical, it’s Jerry Week and all the GD devotees are listening to old cuts with Jerry and pondering the moment. The Moment, and all the other moments since he left the earthly plane in 95. Too bad, so sad, really…Everyone misses him, the music he played and the way he played it, including me!
I never got to tell him how much his playing meant to me – it just kinda got lost in the business-of-Buddy-being-Buddy. Fuck. But he knew. He saw me, lots – standing behind his amp stack in the early seventies. He would finish a number, mosey on back to grab the cigarette he left burning on his Twin and see me standing there shaking my head, in utter astonishment. He’d smirk. “Smoke THAT, Nimrod!” Yeah, he knew…
Those memories count for somethin’…
He came up to me in the band office after they’d received copies of their album GD From The Mars Hotel. Excited as hell, he urged me to listen and give him some feedback. I didn’t. I let the moment pass. I did this with most of their albums after that – let it slip. I frankly wasn’t ready for what they were doing on the Cutting Edge – I didn’t deserve the ride. I caught up later on but ‘later on’ would prove to be too late.
Two guys who were of paramount importance in achieving great musician’s dreams! “I know you Rider, gonna miss me when I’m gone…”