By Dan Clendenin
When most people think of the Grateful Dead, they think of the garrulous Jerry Garcia (1942–1995). This music documentary tells the story of the Dead’s legendary rhythm guitarist Bob Weir (born 1947). Weir narrates his own story of how he was adopted at birth by a family in Atherton, CA (one of the wealthiest zip codes in the world). Today we would say that he had undiagnosed dyslexia as a young boy, which led to doing poorly enough in school that he dropped out. When he was sixteen, he met Garcia in Palo Alto and eventually co-founded the Warlocks, which later became the Grateful Dead. Weir is rather cavalier, even nostalgic, about the serial womanizing and many years of hard drug abuse, and even admits that he was Garcia’s “bag man” who doled out the heroin. He reflects on the craziness (and violence) of the band’s cult following, fame, and Garcia’s untimely death at the age of 53. Late in life he connected with his biological parents, became a dedicated married man, and father to two daughters. As you would expect, the film incorporates lots of archival footage and interviews with fellow band mates, other musicians, his wife, sister and daughter. “I’ve lead a kind of unusual life,” says Weir. There’s at least some introspection here, but mainly a perpetuation of the unique mythology of one of the most enduring bands in rock history. I watched this film on Netflix.
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