Bob Weir Talks Carrying Jerry Garcia’s Dope on Tour, Dealing with Painkillers and More in Revealing Interview

November 8, 2014

In an interview with Common Ground as a part of the magazine’s 40th anniversary issue, Bob Weir discussed a variety of revealing topics including the cancelation of his tour dates, carrying Jerry Garcia’s heroin on tour and advice for the youth when it comes to using drugs. The guitarist didn’t confirm the exact reason as to why he cancelled his batch of tour dates that included a full RatDog tour and scheduled Furthur appearance, but did say that he “had to take painkillers for a shoulder issue for a number years” and that is something he still deals with.

Weir also touched on a bevy of Grateful Dead-related topics including his role as Jerry Garcia’s bagman on tour. “I used to carry Jerry’s dope around on tour; I used to be his bagman. At the beginning of the tour, he would tell me, ‘Okay, no matter what I say, no matter what I do, just give me this amount.’ That was a tough job. I gave him a daily allotment. He’d trust me.”

While Weir admitted that he never got into heroin, he did occasionally partake with Garcia. “Every now and again he would invite me to join him, and I would. But I never got into it. It was fun to go into his world on a given evening after a show, but it’s not a place I found I wanted to stay—or at least that part of his world. It was fun going into that little corner of his world where he didn’t let other folks in. A place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there. He did.”

Musically, Weir discussed his favorite era of The Grateful Dead, citing their immense creativity throughout the 80s until the passing of Brent Mydland and the subsequent Garcia relapse. “I loved what we were up to in the late ’80s. Jerry was in great shape, having slipped the bonds of his drug existence for a few years. We had come together and become strong singers. We had a good sense of dynamics and were a good band. If we had been able to maintain that plateau as a band, some monumental music might have resulted. We lost Brent [Mydland], then Jerry also receded back into the drugs.”

Weir sums up his thoughts on drugs, offering a piece of advice to all young people out there, saying, “Bottom line: you’re better off straight. Stay the hell away from heroin; it’ll take you out. It’ll ruin your life. Meth, the same thing. Cocaine—stay away from cocaine and any of the addictive drugs. Try not to take sleeping pills in your life. If you have a chronic pain issue, better to figure out how to deal with it other than with pain medication.”