Experiments in Chaos—Failures from April 29, 2015

Hardcore Deadheads may hate me for picking on the Grateful Dead. But the fact is, I like the Dead and all the surviving members. The way they've managed to balance a strong work ethic with a laid back attitude appeals to me. They're fine musicians and songwriters. And, no matter how badly you sing, they'll make you feel okay about it.

Jerry Garcia was an incredibly talented human being, but let's face it; he couldn't carry a tune if it had a handle on it. And Phil Lesh? As I type this, he's easily one of the best bass players on the planet, and he's probably not even at his peak anymore. But he couldn't hold a note with both hands.

There were two members, Bob Weir and Brent Icanneverrememberhislastname, who could carry a tune. They'd stagger a bit under the weight, but they could carry it. So when Donna Godchaux joined the Dead you'd think, carrying on that fine tradition of not being able to sing worth a damn, that she'd be a perfect fit. But it never clicked for me somehow.

Eventually, the Godchauxs got fired. By the Grateful Dead. For? Drug use. To get the full impact of that statement, you need to know a little something about the Dead.

When the first drummer, Bill Kreutzmann, decided he didn't want to tour anymore, they got another drummer, Mickey Hart, who fit in just fine. Then Kreutzmann started to miss being with the band and decided he wanted to come back. They could have told him that they had a replacement and that it wouldn't be fair to let him go, or they could have let Hart go with the explanation that Kreutzmann wanted to come back and it wasn't fair to say no to him, since he was one of the founding members. Instead, they decided to have two drummers. And Hart just happily scrunched over and made room for a second drum set.

Now, that's not all that unusual. A lot of bands have two drummers. But the point I'm trying to make is that the Grateful Dead weren't, as a rule, inclined to hand out pink slips. And that point being made, you need to know another little something about the Dead.

Their first sound technician, whose name I can't for the life of me remember, was arrested, tried, and convicted. Not for possession of LSD. Not for possession of LSD with intent to sell. For the manufacture of LSD. The point here is that the Grateful Dead were some hardcore partiers. If it would burn, they'd try smoking it. If it were liquid, they'd try drinking some of it, just in case they might discover something. And yet, Donna and Keith Godchaux were fired. By the Dead. For drug use.

What in the name of all that's bizarre do you have to do in order to get fired by the Dead for drug use? Snort plutonium? Mainline kerosene? What were these people doing and how did they survive it?

So I like the Dead. They're fine artists, and they have a philosophy I can believe in. But they're also silly, and that clinches the deal for me.

More Failures
Main Page