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Thursday, October 02, 2014

This day in HISTOROCK !! The Grateful Dead and the 710 Ashbury St. drug bust of 1967 !!

       This day in HISTOROCK !!

              In 1967, members of The Grateful Dead were busted by California narcotics agents for possession of marijuana at the groups' 710 Ashbury Street house in San Francisco, California !! Eleven residents of 710 Ashbury St., including two band members, two managers and several women living with the band, were handcuffed together and hauled away by police on Oct. 2, 1967. San Francisco narcotics officers, who took more than a pound or marijuana and hashish from the residence, said they were working off a tip from an informant. Band lawyers said the group was unfairly targeted. The story made the front page of the Chronicle, a band press conference followed and most of the defendants pled guilty to lesser charges. Band members Bob Weir and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan were both arrested. Where were the other band members? From the Chronicle article: “O’Connor, the state narcotics chief, said he was not sure whether charges would be filed against three other members of the Dead not present at the pad — lead guitarist Jerry (Captain Trips) Garcia, 24; Phil Lesh, 27, bassist and song writer; and Bill Summers, 21, the drummer.” No other band members was arrested, although they would be busted again in New Orleans in 1970, and  Garcia was arrested for drug possession in New Jersey in 1973 !! At the Oct. 6 press conference at 710 Ashbury St., media members were offered cookies and cake from the band !! Mmmmmm cookies and cake from The Grateful Dead !! Must have been one hell of a press conference ;-) At that press conference, manager Danny Rifkin read a 2 page statement from the band and here is an excerpt from that statement which was so true back then and even true today !! 
**“Almost anyone who has ever studied marijuana seriously and objectively has agreed that, physically and psychologically, marijuana is the least harmful chemical used for pleasure and life enhancement. … The president of a company that makes defective automobiles which leads to thousands of deaths and injuries can face a maximum penalty or a minor fine.
**“A person convicted for possession of marijuana can be sentenced to up to 30 years in jail … the law is so seriously out of touch with reality. If the lawyers, doctors, advertising men, teachers and political officeholders who use marijuana were arrested today, the law might well be off the books before Thanksgiving.
**“Police prefer to concentrate on individuals who have been manufactured by the mass media into a group that typifies the now-popular image of the drug-oriented hippie. The mass media created the so-called hippie scene. This way, the American people are protected, by the police and the media, from the fact that the law is a lie.
**“But the ‘hippie’ as created by the media is a lie as well … the law creates a mythical danger and calls it a felony. The result is a series of lies and myths that prop each other up. Behind all the myths is the reality. The Grateful Dead are people engaged in constructive, creative effort in the musical field and this house is where we work as well as out residence. Because the police fear and misinterpret us, our effort is now being interrupted as we deal with the consequences of an harassing arrest.”
Originally charged with felonies, most of the defendants pled guilty to misdemeanors and paid a $100 or $200 fine. After this episode, the Dead enjoyed a strong relationship with the community. The following year, they were hired by the SF Symphony to play at its fundraising Black and White Ball. They became fixtures at Giants and 49ers games, singing national anthems, and did a lot of fundraising concerts for local causes. The Dead never did shake the “hippie” label, but were always shown the utmost respect by the citizens of San Francisco !! The Dead just wanted to play music and have a good time !! RIP Jerry Garcia !! Here is video of a Grateful Dead classic "Casey Jones" !! Enjoy !! 

Keep o ROCKIN !!
Trike :-)