Dead Line

First Encounter

It's been long; it’s been strange; and, man—what a trip!  One night in 1964—or was it ’63? —I was wandering around North Beach in San Francisco looking for beatniks when I heard bluegrass music wafting out of a shop brimming with as much confusion as coffee.  I sauntered in to behold the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers.  At the close of the set, I ambled on to the small stage and had my first encounter with Jerry Garcia. My last would be in Portland, Oregon on his last tour with the band before his passing.

There was no way to know for sure the significance of such a happenstance; but somewhere amidst our introduction and our valediction was a series of brief encounters that were warm, personable and revealing. Some were photographic in nature. Others were musical. Some were no more than casual visits with family issues, love lives and the drag of aging as the order of the day. 

Looking back at it all now I realize how fortunate I was to be able to have had him in my life, no matter how limited the duration. How I miss his speaking voice and his perfectly disarming chuckle....

I have been blessed to remain a friend and part of the Grateful Dead family and now still enjoy their trust and company. I have since moved to the East Coast from ground zero (Novato, CA.); but I have never stopped following the music: the Other Ones, Rat Dog, Phil and Friends and, of course, the Dead.

I have watched as the audience has grown from the children we were, to white-haired men we became. I have witnessed the synthesis of children, hungry for the same trip, with our aged selves. I have seen the resulting creation of a new, multi-generational phenomenon echoing the good old days of the Grateful Dead and culminating with Furthur—a band that Jer would have loved.

I will take this opportunity to thank you, as Phil would say, "for completing the circuit."

Herbie Greene
Maynard, MA

Herbie Greene