Jerry Garcia walked right by my left shoulder while I stood actively engaged in a DETAILED discussion regarding belt buckles with Mr. Stanley Ousley (The Bear– of ‘Bear’s Picks’ album fame, and the wizard who supposedly engineered the Electric part of the Kool Ade at the Acid Tests for Ken Kesey and the Grateful Dead, back in ‘the day’). I was just a pie eyed rookie that was backstage at the halftime break at the Birmingham Civic Center in Alabama, an invited guest of Club Dead, (San Francisco). The owner, Tom Stack was an approved vendor to the band and I worked for him long distance, mailing art back and forth from from the east to the west coast. this took place before I had access to a reliable computer. -So I was essentially a young tourist fresh out of college on a long strange trip that found me backstage at a DEAD SHOW, and I was too startstruck to remember to keep my eyes opened, OTHERWISE I would have been waiting to shake Mr. Jerry’s hand just to say THANKS.
So, no I didn’t get to meet Jerry Garcia, but Vince the keyboardist was busy hitting on my girlfriend and I did get to smile ‘all goofy-like‘ right into the face of Bobby Weir who surely must have wondered ‘Who let this freak back here?’.
I was just a fan who never had money to buy a shirt, little alone be able to purchase a ticket to more than one show in a ‘blue moon’, so in college I started hand printing my own drawings onto t-shirts. I made a dozen per batch and I did it for several years before I graduated and decided to make 48 shirts for a 3-show run at the Onmi in Atlanta, GA 1991. The authorities that wore tie dyes confiscated half of my shirts and almost arrested me twice as I tried to work the parking lots during the day of the 2nd show. (fyi~ Back in those days the entire downtown was a camp site for 10,000+ hippies as tents were set up in every parking lot around.)
The change in my world came as the guy breathed down my neck as he unloaded my backpack witht he other 2 big dudes pinning me against a van; he said, “Quit stealing from the band and start working FOR them you thief .” – – -Those were my designs, but the words ‘Grateful Dead’ changed everything. *ouch.
On the way back to B’Ham
(playing ‘Loser’ on the stereo), I tried to sell a few shirts to cover gas money in area known as Little Five Points, at a shop where I lucked out to find a kind lady that bought 2 for herself and handed me a phone number to her friend in San Francisco. <~~That phone number was the one that I had been looking for since High School, and I still marvel at the good luck of it.
There are 3-4 images that I did for various venues that are not pictured here, and 2 of these images were only utilized as bootlegs (but all were approved for licensing by Liquid Blue, so they eventually became LEGIT- although only TWO of them were ever printed… so far. (Most will be converted into non-Grateful Dead designs and released via ‘HippieShop’ in New Jersey (hit by the summer floods 2011 making a comeback).
I will post these individual pictures along with their stories at a later date, I just wanted to clear up the burning question that gets asked so often.
However, I do have a better story regarding when I met Elvis. – – -but, I’ll save that for another post.