Why a Star Turns Around in the Grave (published 1997) (2023)


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3 January 1997


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As the spiritual leader of the Grateful Dead, guitarist Jerry Garcia has made a point of escaping convention. And for most of his life, it seemed like he was going on an immaculate getaway.

Beginning in psychedelic 1960s San Francisco, he built one of rock 'n' roll's most successful bands without sacrificing his music to the industry's rampant commercialism. He has been in and out of relationships with women but continued to be publicly loved by all. Even after his death as a rock star in 1995 — his 53-year-old heartbeat stopped while he was in a drug treatment center — he was hailed as a beacon of integrity and hope in an often tight-fisted music world.

Nearly a year after his death, however, Garcia's free spirit is beset by a cheap, orthodox celebrity ending: new stories are told about his drug addiction, loved ones confess he ended up being unsuccessful on stage, so much because he loved to gamble. because he needed the money and his widow and one of his ex-wives are fighting bitterly over the money left behind.

"I wouldn't wish that on my enemy," said one of his daughters, Annabelle Walker Garcia, 26, as she watched a group of attorneys and reporters outside Courtroom E of the Marin County Courthouse. . "The problem is mom and dad had a real hippie relationship and you can't legally declare a '60s relationship."

The last of Garcia's three wives, Deborah Koons Garcia, 47, is trying to do just that. After cutting payments on a $5 million contract the guitarist signed with Annabelle's mother, Carolyn Adams Garcia, in 1993, Ms. Koons Garcia argues that all the talk about free love and flower children is little more than a smokescreen behind which his rival is trying to steal the musician's property.

"Fleece" is actually not the sort of term Ms. Koons Garcia often uses for it; Much of their vocabulary on the subject cannot be printed in a family newspaper.

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"Jerry had a variety of relationships with women, and he was his least favorite," Ms. Koons Garcia said in an interview, in one of her most balanced comments on the subject Ms. Adams Garcia, 49. That was the whole community thing in the '60s: You couldn't get rid of anyone."

For the Deadheads, as the band's loyal fans are known, such insults can be quite blasphemous. For many of them, Mrs. Adams Garcia lives on as a legend as Mr. Garcia or Mountain Girl, the name she was given as one of the hilarious pranks that accompanied writer Ken Kesey in the acid tests that exposed thousands of people to LSD, before it was banned in California in late 1966.

Fusing elements of bluegrass, folk, rock and country into an electrifying mix of improvisation, The Dead provided the live sound for many of the ordeals. And not long after rehearsals were over, Ms. Adams and her daughter moved in with Mr. Kesey, Sunshine, to join Mr. Garcia in the band's longhouse at 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco, a hub of counterculture. (Mrs Adams was still married to one of the pranksters, George Walker, and Mr Garcia had just separated from his first wife, Sara Ruppenthal Garcia, with whom he had a daughter, Heather.)

"We were loners," Adams Garcia said of her and Garcia. "We tried to avoid the establishment as much as possible, but sometimes we were more successful than others."

Lady. For a few years, Adams Garcia, the strong-willed and articulate daughter of upper-middle-class parents from Poughkeepsie, New York, was the equivalent of a loyal young woman who cooked for the house and sometimes joined the band along the way. He later settled in different houses across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County to raise Sunshine, Annabelle and Theresa, a second daughter of Mr. Garcia - who was born in September 1974.

Lady. Adams Garcia denies a story told by gang members about a time in 1974 when he allegedly found a young Deborah Koons at a gang member's house and threw her out of a door. But there's no question that Garcia's family life began to unravel shortly after Deborah Koons boarded The Dead's bus at the end of a show at Nassau Coliseum and sat next to him to head back to Manhattan.

"I told my friend that I had met Jerry Garcia and he said, 'You have to write to him and ask him to send us LSD!' said Mrs. Koons Garcia, opening up about the early days of her relationship with the star. “We were in the Greek islands and he sent us an erasure pad. It was our exchange throughout the summer.”

Lady. Koons Garcia stayed with the musician for several years until, like Mrs. Adams Garcia before her, she grew tired of the Grateful Dead lifestyle and went her own way.

At the time Ms. Koons Garcia and Mr. Garcia rekindled their relationship and eventually married in 1994. He met Carolyn Adams Garcia at least long enough to marry her in a brief ceremony between sets at a New Year's Eve concert at the Oakland Coliseum in December January 1981, suffered a diabetic coma in 1986, was arrested for possession of heroin and cocaine, and had a fourth in 1987 Daughter with another woman, Manasha Matheson another period when he and Mrs. Adams Garcia became more or less husband and wife again.

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The San Rafael trial, which ends Friday, is about whether the estate should comply with the one-paragraph divorce agreement that Mrs. Adams Garcia drafted and Mr. Garcia signed in an impromptu hearing on May 11, 1993. Garcia to pay him $5 million in increments of no less than $250,000 per year. Before his death in 1995, he had made 18 payments totaling $400,000.

Like a contract, the agreement is fairly simple. But lawyers for Ms. Koons Garcia, who is a co-executor of the estate and one of the main beneficiaries, have argued that Adams and Garcia's 1981 marriage was purely for tax reasons (an allegation witnessed by two of the guitarist's partners is partial true), that the marriage was never legal (a claim the judge in the case dismissed) and that the couple never accumulated joint property because they never actually lived together (multiple witnesses confirmed that they did not commit to anything over time remember in which this is clear).

"Jerry was a drug addict," said Koons Garcia's lead attorney, Paul Camera, who called the deal a scam. "He was so addicted to drugs that it affected his judgment."

Lady. Koons Garcia, who drives a newer BMW sedan and sits in court in dark designer suits and a pearl necklace, argues that Ms Adams Garcia is particularly greedy considering the property is valued at just under $7.0 million. Attorneys for Adams Garcia, who prefers love accounts and arrived from Oregon in an RV, estimate the property's potential value at more than double that amount, arguing that the deal, which was paid for over 20 years, left the property less than $2 million dollars would cost 1994 dollars.

As bitter as their rivalry became, the two women seemed at times to shrink from what the trial was doing to Mr. Garcia's keepsake. However, no one has yet argued in court the importance of the type of British folk ballad from which the band takes its name.

Grateful Dead refers to a song about people helping a ghost find peace.


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