Where Were You?

A ago today (a bit long)

From: HelenBuckt <[helenbuc k t] at [aol.com]>
Date: 9 Aug 1996 23:33:03 -0400

I had just gotten home from my low-paying gig as the Morning Edition host for the world's most underfunded NPR station at about 9am, when I got a phone call from my sister-in-law in Austin. She was yelling something about somebody having died. From her tone of voice, I knew who she was talking about. Turns out some cruel person in one of her college classes had laid the news on her without much attempt to be kind. She had called me to see if I had heard anything at work. I hadn't. The news didn't hit us until about 9:30, maybe later.

My call-waiting clicked in and it was my Program Director at the radio station. He said, "We just got a garbled report from the Associated Press about Jerry Garcia dying...it's all screwed up, but I think that's the jist of it. We'd like to confirm before we put it on the air, and I can't find out anything. You've talked to that Gans guy before...uh..." So, with great trepidation, I dug to the bottom of an unused drawer and pulled out the only number I had. When DG answered the phone, I knew it was true. His tone of voice did NOT sound good. I felt like a complete ass. As soon as I apologized profusely and hung up, I threw out the phone number in embarrassment, and the official, un-garbled news reports began. I called the radio station to tell them the truth. Then I crawled into bed and curled up until 4:30 the next morning.

At work the next day, I was sad, but when NPR began airing its Jerry Tribute pieces, I was in heaven. It was the first time I'd heard any Dead tune other than Touch of Gray on the radio. I boogied in front of the control board, having the best time of my life. I gathered no news. I believe I missed a station ID somewhere. However...

the last Morning Edition segment of the 7-8 o'clock hour ended with To Lay Me Down. I immediately lost it...cried like a baby. Then I looked at the clock. It read 7:59:30. Oh my god...30 seconds before I have to give the FCC-mandated enhanced Station Identification. I had to go through with it, no matter what condition I was in. I made a vain attempt, sounded like a moron, stumbled through it, killed the mike, and then began answering the condolence phone calls from listeners who had figured out what was wrong. I missed recording the Friday night Celtic music show. My boss let me go home early.

It's been a year, and the sting isn't quite so bad. Furthur festival at Shoreline was a wonderful, different experience. Actually better than my first and last Dead show.

I'm glad to know that Jerry's gotten some relief from the pains that plagued his life. My only regret is that he didn't get another shot at getting his life together. He had so much left to do, so many chances to be happy in the future. Hopefully, he's happy now.


One year ago today in Berkeley

From: Michael Z. <[m--ha--z] at [zoka.com]>
Date: Fri, 09 Aug 1996 17:43:43 -0700

After the news spread amongst my friends, one of us thought it would be a good idea to get together in the mid-afternoon. Several agreed, but the question was where to meet. Someone else suggested the Greek Theater, which seemed about right, so we rendezvoused there. The place was locked up, so we had to jump the fence, stage right. The theater was deserted; we climbed up to the middle of the lawn and sat in a semi-circle, six of us. Someone had brought a boom box, and we alternated between KFOG on the radio, which was playing all manner of relevant songs, and a JGB tape from 1975. We quietly shared stories, tried to smile, and mostly stared down at the empty stage. After about 45 minutes, the LP version of "Uncle John's Band" came on the radio, and one guy burst into tears. We tried to comfort him, but what was there to say? A few minutes later, we all decided it was time to go. We made our way back down the lawn and the steps, climbed back over the fence, and out into the brilliant Berkeley sunshine.


Where were you when you heard...

From: Tim Graham <[t g raha 02] at [mail.coin.missouri.edu]>
Date: 5 Aug 1996 23:36:59 GMT

I was out camping with my s.o., it was our Anniversary (talk about mixed confused feelings coming up this year), we had a portable radio, and were cooking lunch. She turned it on, and we both just smiled when GDTRFB came on. About three minutes later we heard. It was about two more days until we got back to civilation. I still don't know what to think about that camping trip, the scenery was so beautiful, but the new so ugly. I don't know.


  • What would be the answer
  • to the answer man?
  • -Grateful Dead


From: Guppy 270 <[guppy 270] at [aol.com]>
Date: 5 Aug 1996 11:04:02 -0400

I was in a local hospital here on Long Island. Somehow in July I had managed to contract Guillienne-Barre syndrome, which affects the nervous system. By the end of July I was totally unable to walk, so my August had already been pretty bad. My brother, also a deadhead, called me from work and said he had just heard that Jerry had died. I said no way, it's probably just a hoax. I refused to believe it. Then I got off the phone & turned the hospital room TV to the noon news, & the first thing I saw was a still picture of Jerry, and 1942-1995 under it.

It was so strange, I didn't know what to do. I literally couldn't move, and there was no one to talk to. I just watched the news reports all day, and later that night listened to the only two tapes that I had with me in the hospital: Terrapin Station album, and the infamous 5/8/77. Say what you will about that show, but it almost literally got me through that night, and that week.

Thanx again to Jerry Garcia, for everything.

Bill Cairns


From: Jeff <[jef f m] at [wavenet.com]>
Date: Mon, 05 Aug 1996 12:44:11 -0700

Like a lot of people, I was at work. We always play the radio in the office, but the morning is the busiest part of the day, and there was a lot of noise, so I don't always hear the radio, it's kind of in the background. However, around 10:00 am, amid the noise, the word "Garcia" caught my attention and then I thought I heard "He was 53."

"SHUT UP!!!" I screamed. "SHUT UP!!!" I must have yelled it five times because there were a lot of people in the office making a lot of noise. Everyone must have thought I was crazy.

"What did he say?" I asked Christie, sitting next to me. "I don't know," she said, alarmed at (yet understanding) my panic.

"Did he say "He *was* 53?"

"I don't think so," she said, trying unsuccessfully to calm me down. "I don't think he said that."

"That's what he said, '*was* 53'. He said *was*!"

I was almost hysterical at this point, and fortunately the people in the office had realized how serious this was and were trying to help. The radio station had broken for commercials so someone said "Find another station." I was in such a state I couldn't do it, my fingers desperately grabbing at the tuner, almost knocking the radio off the shelf. "Here, I'll do that," someone volunteered. "Just sit down and relax."

Needless to say, I couldn't relax. We tuned in to the other classic rock station and they were also playing commercials. It was the longest wait of my life, waiting for that DJ to come back on the air, but as soon as he did, my life changed forever.


"I'll walk alone, By the Black Muddy River, And sing me a song of my own..."

R.I.P. Jerry. I love you.


From: Jeffrey Allred <[allre 004] at [mc.duke.edu]>
Date: Mon, 05 Aug 1996 16:36:52 -0400

At work when a friend called, told me to sit down, then proceeded to tell me what was up. After I got my shit together enough to talk to my boss, I left work, went home cranked up the stereo and danced by myself for a few hours.

My twelve year old daughter attempted to console me the next morning with "it's OK Dad, I said a prayer for Jerry last night..."

nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile...



From: Melissa Lynn Gray <[eyes 217] at [ix.netcom.com]>
Date: 6 Aug 1996 00:24:37 GMT

Working at Applebee's. My husband called me in the middle of our before-lunch meeting. He had *never* called me at work before, so I knew it was something really important...I asked him what was wrong. He said, "Jerry died." I started bawling like a baby right there.

I felt like someone had just taken whatever joy was left inside of me and ripped it out, shattering my world. The rest of the day, I felt just...empty. No substance at all.

And thus began the absolute darkest period of my life. Here in Oklahoma, no one understands, no one cares. I came home and Christian was there, crying and hugging our bears. I said it didn't seem real yet. He said turn on CNN. I did, and had to turn it off 5 minutes later. It hadn't seemed real yet, but now it did. We went out for some dinner. I noticed the sticker on my car, with 2 dancing bears and the slogan, "The landscape would be empty...if they were gone." My landscape was emptier than ever now.

I had a dream that night that I was walking through the parking lot. All the vendors were there, selling their stuff, but there was no show. A symbolic representation as to what was coming...

So now it is, one year later. Living here in Tulsa is 1000 times harder with no shows, no outlet. Furthur was a lifesaver for me.

And thus I am attempting to end the darkest period of my life. Tulsa was the worst place to live in the first year of Jer's death, and we are moving January 5, to Asheville, North Carolina. "Someday this darkness got to give..." maybe then.



From: Captain Vella <[c--ar--s] at [midway.uchicago.edu]>
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 15:31:28 GMT

i was making lunch in my kitchen, and i heard a dead song come on the radio from the back of the house, and then another dead tune came on after it, and then another. i got this weird feeling like something must've happened to make a des moines, iowa radio station play three dead songs in a row, so i went and listened, and they said that jerry had died. i sort've knew what they were going to say before i actually heard the radio guy say the words. then i called my friend, matt, and broke the news to him, it was pretty sad.


Re: Where Were You When You Heard

From: Craig Johnston <[c--ai--j] at [lclark.edu]>
Date: 6 Aug 1996 16:55:47 GMT

I had been at a meeting in downtown Portland (Ore) and decided to stop off at home on my way back to work to check out how my children were doing. My wife was off somewhere and my oldest boy was babysitting.

When I entered the kitchen, my daughter Alison, who was eight, was sitting on the couch with a very serious look on her face. "Dad, I have some really bad news for you," she said softly. "Jerry Garcia died this morning. Mom thought I should tell you right away."

I was immediately overcome with two emotions -- grief, but at the same time thanks and admiration for how beatifully she had handled a very difficult situation. Somehow hearing the news from her in that way made it a lot easier to absorb.

Thanks, Alison.