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John Lennon Meets Jerry Garcia

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In the early ’70s Jerry Garcia was starting to make solo records when the Grateful Dead weren’t working. On one of those first efforts he recorded “Imagine.” Before a Jerry Garcia Band show, in New York, John Lennon came by to thank him. Lennon told Jerry that his version of “Imagine” was the first time someone had covered one of John’s solo tunes.

After the show they talked for a while and Jerry invited John to come back the next night to join him on stage. John said he would return the following day and do a sound check with the Garcia Band so they could work up a few tunes. Lennon never came back and Garcia thought that all the imposing Hell’s Angels hanging out backstage might have “scared him off.”

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About Justin Kreutzmann

  • Where did this story come from?

  • Michael,
    Jerry Garcia told me this story.

  • Temple Stark

    And sarcasm is not, intended in the above.

  • Oh! THAT Kruetzmann!


    Sorry. I didn’t recognize you.

  • No worries. I often don’t recognize me!

  • I once didn’t recognize myself, but after a second look I realized I was someone else.

  • Justin,

    Wonder if it was the Angels or maybe just that John was deep down a really shy person. We’ll never know, I suppose.

    Nice anecdote though.

  • jerry and john are my two hero’s in life. i have never heard this story and it makes me smile. thank you for it

  • knownonsense

    I stopped looking and found myself.

  • Nick aka. StaggerSage

    Thanks Justin,

    I’ve been wondering for a long time if John ever went to a Show or met Jerry, and this is a cool anecdote. I was just asking this question on the http://www.further.com web site. Just had to do a little web surfing to find the answer. Thanks

  • Tony Beers

    We should all stay open to just showing up when we can let ourselves. John for whatever reason couldn’t get there, but he did show up for life and others many times. And Jer can’t show up for us now, but he did show up so many nights with his six string around his neck with just a simple C to G…It would have been beautiful to have Jer and John sharing light and letting it be sweet, rocking it all the way out too. But every time you feel the music shooting up from your gut, when your spine grows and you start to dance without thinking…I know I’m there, I’m sure Jer and John aren’t missing a beat or a riff either. Rejoice! We are the music when we allow ourselves to be with it!!

  • Gary

    That version from Pacific High Studios is just plain outstanding.

  • Which Jerry album is Imagine on?

  • Save

    Wasn’t there a McCartney /Dead connection? Linda had a retrospective photography exhibit featuring many Dead related photos shown at some gallery in Greenwich, CT?
    Just wondering….

  • Yes, Linda McCartney had shot a short film of the Dead playing live way back in the day, (like ’68 or so? maybe in NYC?) and after her death, there was talk of Paul completing it. I gathered that it was not much more than a home movie, if even it was finished & mostly notable because LEM had done it.

  • Jackrabbit

    Lennon was great, but Garcia was a true artist.

  • Great story Justin! Thanks for sharing. Seeing your dad and the band play was the best period in my life and they changed my life forever.

    John and Jerry are gone but there legacy will live on forever.

    • The Paulos

      their legacy….

      • Jack Starw

        Yes, “their” is the correct word. I appreciate you being the proctor on the King’s English and all that. I am sure her majesty ER2 really appreciates your devotion to her tongue!

        I might say…………you pose……r

        • Tom Mohr

          Jack Starw is complaining about the “Queen’s” English ;o)))

  • Jay Stollak

    I was at that concert and sat next to John Lennon and saw him go backstage. (It wasn’t before the show; it was intermission at The Bottom Line.) And yes, the Angels were very present.

    • Stephen Bykowsky

      Jay, Allen Pepper my good friend told me not to leave after the early show as I was invited to all 6 shows. The place was empty sans the waitresses and staff. Allen put me at the round table dead center, told me to wait. He then brought Mellisa Manchester and John over and introduced them to me, and we sat for a good hour , and talked bout Jerry’s music till they let the people in. As the crowd poured in, everbody was laying a joint on John, tilll his shirt pocket was full, John did coke the whole show from a leather pouch. At one point when the place was empty,John asked if there was a guitar louder than Jerry’s, when this was told to Jerry, he said Fuck Him. Lennon did go back to see Jerry after the show. There was no intermission’s, just an early and late show. I was there the next night, and there was no talk of John showing up to play. If all these Angels were there, how come there was not one bike outside, I will get in touch with Allen, and mabe you sat at the next table, but Cliff Russ, Dr. Art Goldsmith my friends and Mellissa and John and I sat together. I have seen some stupid stories bout that night, but that is the real story.

      • Jay Stollak

        Was that YOU??
        (just kidding)… i was sitting at the next table with my back to John but during the show we were facing the same way towards the stage. I never knew who the woman was!

  • JerryFan

    There is another run in, where John shows up at a dead show w/ yoko in tow. And sits backstage talking smack about the dead. Then left before they were done. This may have been before this, and why there was weirdness in the air. I could look it up and give you a link but im too lazy.

  • Stephen Bykowsky

    Bottom Line and amazing stories and since I was the one who sat with John and Mellisa Manchester for an hour before the late show filled the Bottom Line it went something like this. I was at the early show, my good friend Allen Pepper told me not to leave and stay inside while they set up for the late show. He told me to sit at the round table dead center, just after the long tables. He walked over with Melissa Manchester who dated John for a period while enstranged from Yoko. Introduced us all and we sat for an hour discussing Jerry’s and the Deads music. We were joined by my friend Cliff Russ, who was an amputee, and Allen went out and pulled him from the waiting line. John did approach somebody and asked if there was a guitar louder than Jerry’s, when told this, Jerry’s response was Fuck Him. As the late show entered, just about everbody gave a joint to John filling his shirt pocket. But he did coke the whole night from a leather pouch, Melissa did not partake. John went backstage after the show. I was there the next night and there was never any talk of John playing or showing up. As for the Angels, there were no bikes outside, how did they get there, walk. John did thank Jerry for covering several songs by the Beatles. I will get in touch with Allen to see if there is any filler I missed, but it has been discussed many times. Note the scene backstage was all “white”, which really set Garcia’s mood. If Justin would like to get in touch.

    • NJDevils Fan

      I grew up with the Pepper kids in NJ. Unfortunately I was too young to have experienced all those classic shows at the Bottom Line. I was lucky enough to have had some great times at the Wetlands Preserve.

    • Charlie Diliberti

      The all “white” statement Stephen explains alot. Great Musical moment you were involved with. Curious what was Johns overall take on the Dead? I understand he was zooted up, just wondering.

      • Stephen Bykowsky

        John was intrigued that Jerry could pull into this little club and set up shop. John really enjoyed that Jerry covered some of his tunes. Remember this was the first night that Jerry had brought the band to the East Coast, so a lot of people were not familiar with the whole JGB theory or the Legion as it was known. Since I had attended the early show, we discussed some tunes as in Jimmy Ciff, Dylan and Smokey.

  • Michael

    Ok folks I am not sure what others saw and believe but I was sitting directly next to Lennon with him on my right. My friends from Canarsie had the center table on the left while Lennon and his crowd had the center table on the right as you faced the stage. We were at the early show and John was with a Chinese lady who was not Yoko.
    And yes the angles were there and lots of people kept giving John “stuff”. John shared a lot of this with our table. He bought me a drink and we shared a joint. Best of all being the taper that I was I had recorder and mic in toe. When John noticed this he started commenting into my mic about Jerry’s playing. Yes I still have the original tape which has been converted to digital thanks to David L ( Dave’s piks). Dave now has a copy for the archives. Don’t believe it ask him.There have not been many experiences in my life that I have more knowledge then others however this is one of them.

    • Charlie Diliberti

      WOW Michael, thats one for the ages..Love to hear that tape someday~Thanks for sharing.