New Grateful Dead Documentary Examines Jerry Garcia’s Relationship with Heroin

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By Dorri Olds

Original Source: thefix.com

“[Jerry was] a complicated, creatively talented and unconventional person…he had an equal proclivity for transcendence and self-destruction.”

Amir Bar-Lev’s rockumentary, Long Strange Trip, about the Grateful Dead, is aptly named for what is arguably the band’s most famous lyric: What a long, strange trip it’s been. The film takes you on a four-hour ride (much like the band’s live shows) but this is not just another indulgent music doc.

Executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, the film digs deeply into the bizarre phenomenon that surrounded “The Dead” for decades—obsessive fans, called Deadheads, became a cult-like following that elevated the band’s ringmaster, Jerry Garcia (Aug. 1, 1942–Aug. 9, 1995), to a status he never wanted.

The must-see film includes 17 interviews, 1,100 rare photos and loads of footage you’ve never seen. Deadheads will be ecstatic. Bar-Lev doesn’t tell you what to think. Instead he offers many points of view. One theory is that the die-hard Deadheads were the major cause of Garcia’s descent into heroin. I didn’t buy that so I reached out to Grateful Dead insider Dennis McNally, whose book, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, provided Bar-Lev with much of the band’s story. McNally spent 30 years with the band beginning when Garcia invited him to become their biographer in 1981.

When I asked McNally if he thought it was the Deadheads that drove Garcia to abuse heroin, or if he felt, as I do, that it was a progression from one addiction to another. McNally answered:

“I don’t think there’s an inherent progression [of addiction], I mean everybody…click here to continue reading

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