Jerry Garcia on Playing Stoned

February 9, 2010 | By | 3 Replies More

Since the recent Jerry Garcia post raised a few eyebrows and a few good points, I thought I’d follow it up with an amusing (my opinion) segment from the same Guitar Player interview. The title of the post says it all, so heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Jerry:

“There’s a thing about playing stoned without having pressure on you to play competently. If you have the space in your life where you can be high and play and not be in a critical situation, you can learn a lot of interesting things about yourself and your relation to the instrument and music.

“We [the Dead] were lucky enough to have an uncritical situation, so it wasn’t like a test of how stoned we could be and still be competent – we weren’t concerned with being competent. We were more concerned with being high at the time.

“The biggest single problem from a practical point of view is that obviously your perception of time gets all weird. Now, that can be interesting, but I try to avoid extremes of any sort because you have the fundamental problems of playing in tune and playing with everybody else.

“People have to pay a lot of money to see us, so it becomes a matter of professionalism. You don’t want to deliver somebody a clunker just because you’re too high.”

Props to the interviewer for even asking the question, though it was 1978. But I would’ve liked to have seen a follow-up question along these lines: But Jerry, what if the audience is so high they wouldn’t know a clunker from those flying elephants they’re seeing?

Tone-wise, I wonder what your tone sounds like – or maybe looks like or feels like – when you’re stoned. I’m sure Jimi and many others could answer that. I’m curious, but can’t answer that question. Can you?

Duuuuuuuuuude. Goooooooood...[inhale sound]


Category: Jerry Garcia

Comments (3)

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  1. Scotty Smith says:

    Keep flyin high Jerry, whatever you are doing, it seems to work for you!

  2. Matt says:

    I can. I think it was either Garcia or the bass Player, Phil Lesh that told a story- the band had a benefactor- Bear Owsley. Bear was the foremost producer of the finest grade LSD on the west coast and he paid for the best sound systems and all the new toys available. In the late 60s they were in Los Angeles for a bit and rented a house. Bear would be making LSD crystals in the attic and the band played in the livingroom- the LSD dust was everywhere. After a few days of that- you start to see sound.

    Of course, deadheads rumor he experienced synesthesia

    By the way- the time period Garcia refers to in saying there was no pressure to play was the acid tests… the band was not the focus of the night.

  3. Chandler says:

    So much b.s. surrounding the band and LSD. With the exception of ONE time when Garcia was accidentally dosed backstage before a show at the Fillmore, where he took a finger dip of icing on a laced cake backstage before a show, (couldn’t resist) he never played tripping. The band never considered the Acid Tests a concert of any sorts-Garcia was brilliant, Miles thought he rocked and ya’ don’t get Branford onstage with ya’ unless you’ve got some chops.

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