Jerry Garcia: Portrait of an Artist as a Tripper
A lot of people I’ve interviewed said you get nothing from just partying with LSD.
That was the difference between us and them. For me it was very profound on lots of levels. Going off into the woods and being meditative didn’t cough up anything for me except for how pretty everything is. I got my flashes from seeing other people and interacting with other people, because I was also looking for something in this world not out of it. I was looking for a way to get through this life, not a way to transcend it.
Have your feelings about LSD changed over the years?
They haven’t changed much. My feelings about LSD are mixed. It’s something that I both fear and that I love at the same time. I never take any psychedelic, have a psychedelic experience, without having that feeling of, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” In that sense, it’s still fundamentally an enigma and a mystery.
What drugs do you do now and how much do you do them including alcohol and nicotine.
I still smoke cigarettes, I don’t drink alcohol very much, once in a while a little bit.
How many cigarettes do you smoke?
I smoke a couple packs a day.
Do you still smoke marijuana?
Once in a while. Not so much as I used to. I sort of stopped. I got into a substance abuse program of my own which went on for quite a long time and then I stopped taking drugs. I quit drugs, I got off them. And I went all the way with drugs. I mean I got into serious hard drugs.
Did you ever put your own physical safety in jeopardy while you were tripping?
Lots of times.
Can you give an example?
Just being without a shirt, that kind of stuff. I mean it’s a thing, you know, what’s your physical safety? Other times I don’t know whether I did or not because I got through it. I went walking in traffic and stuff, but I never thought I was in any kind of danger ‘cause I could see what was coming. I drove a lot of times when I could barely wind my way through the hallucinations. But the fact that I’m here means that I didn’t feel I was risking my life. If I thought I was, I probably wouldn’t have.
Did you ever put anybody else’s physical safety in jeopardy while you were tripping?
I may have, just by being a member of the Grateful Dead. You know, every once in a while there are people who jump off the balcony. They’re leapers and stuff, people who think they can make it happen.
Did you have passengers in your car when you were driving?
I’ve had passengers in the car, but I never once felt that I was risking anybody. I would never risk anybody without risking myself first.
Did you ever make love on acid?
Yeah. It wasn’t for me because one of the things I like about psychedelics was the thing of being liberated from your body. I had a sense of remoteness from my body. Some people, that was their whole trip. But for me it never seemed very appealing. It was too something, too much of the sensorium or something. “Ah, God, it’s too loud,” you know? It wasn’t a very good experience for me.
Should ordinary people be allowed to take LSD?
Why not? I mean, maybe it turns out that there are no such things as ordinary people. Maybe all people are extraordinary.
Did taking LSD change your feelings on death?
Sure. I’m not nearly so afraid of death anymore. I don’t think I was terribly afraid of it before, it never was one of my hang-ups, but I think it really erased anything about fearing it. Psychedelics at their most powerful are scarier than death.
What advice would you give someone contemplating their first trip now?
I’d say go for it. Bring a friend.