The Spring Tour of 1987 was an interesting time for the Grateful Dead. Jerry Garcia had pulled out of his nose dive, and with his rejuvenated energy, everyone experienced a lift in energy and spirit. Though I’d been working with Jerry and John Cutler on the new Dead record (In the Dark), my job as Phil Lesh’s and Brent Mydland’s roadie-in-training for that tour took me far away from my dream of becoming a film director. Don’t get me wrong — traveling cross-country in the Dead’s crew left me with permanent life lessons, although I suppose they could just as accurately be called scars.
In the last nights of the tour, Jerry and I were talking in his Chicago dressing room about the storyboards video director Gary Gutierrez had sent. Jon McIntyre, the band’s manager, came in to run Arista’s idea of a “making of” video to go with Gutierrez’s music video for "Touch of Grey" past Garcia since it would be the band’s first. So, I dropped out of the final days of mixing the album.
In an interview with MTV, Jerry Garcia explained how I came to be involved in the Making Of "A Touch of Grey" video. “Justin is Bill Kreutzmann’s (our drummer) kid, and he’s a film whiz,” Garcia clarified. “He worked for the Smithsonian, their film department there, for a couple years and he worked for Francis Ford Coppola. He’s got a background in film. That’s what he wants to do, and he was around. I thought Justin would be perfect for this. He knows the scene. He knows what we’re doing, and he’d been working as a second engineer on the record, so his feet were wet, so to speak. The perfect guy to call in to do it. So he did it, and he did a nice job, too. It’s one of those happy things of serendipity.”
One night while they took a dinner break, I brought a film crew into Front Street Studio to interview Garcia, who thought it would be cool to show Deadheads what the studio looked like. Though I asked him many things, I only used the parts that concerned “Touch Of Grey” for the video. What follows is the complete interview, although I admittedly wince at some of my lame questions. I was, after all, only 17 years old, and this was my first interview. True to form, however, Garcia saved the day with his thoughtful answers.