Deadheads Felt Sense of Foreboding Some St. Louis Area Fans Say They Could Tell Jerry Garcia Was Dying

Article excerpt

SOME DAYS HE would look good," Jimmy Voss said of Jerry Garcia, "and some days you could tell he was dying."

"He's been in and out of treatment for years," Voss said Wednesday after learning that Garcia, the Grateful Dead's lead guitarist and vocalist, had died at a drug rehabilitation center in Northern California.

"He certainly lived life to its fullest," said Voss, who has traveled with the Dead for many years.

Voss, the head chef at Duff's restaurant in the Central West End, spent two months this summer traveling with and cooking for the Grateful Dead.

He was one of many friends and fans of the Dead who noted the negative aspects of this year's tour. The band played at Riverport Amphitheatre on July 5 and 6 after canceling a concert a few days before in Indianapolis because of gate crashers.

While the band was here, two Deadheads died at a campground in Wentzville, and 108 more were injured when a deck collapsed there. Also, the Post-Dispatch has learned, Garcia received a death threat in Indianapolis. The band played the first of its two concerts here with the crowd lights on because police were keeping a lookout for a possible killer.

"I had a strange feeling that I wasn't going to see him again," said Jorge Martinez, who attended this year's concerts and was the promoter of the Grateful Dead's first appearance here - in 1968 at the National Guard Armory. The group has since appeared here about 20 times, including four concerts in the last two years.

On Wednesday, after news of Garcia's death spread, two vigils in his honor were held, one at Art Hill in Forest Park, the other at Pleasant Valley Nature Park in Jefferson County. The Art Hill gathering began at 2 p.m., with about 20 Deadheads, many of whom wore tie-dyed clothes, and grew to a couple of hundred as the afternoon wore on. The mellow vigil featured Grateful Dead music, remembrances of past concerts and placards bearing familiar Dead slogans such as "Keep on truckin' " and "What a long strange trip it was." While most expressed sadness, the spirit was upbeat and communal.

Madeline Dames, who belongs to a younger generation of Deadheads - "I'm 30 years old, just like the band" - said that "most people at this year's shows thought this would be the last time they saw them."

But, she said, the pessimism was because of the problems created by unruly fans who have joined the band's following in the last few years, not because they expected anything to happen to Garcia. …