Richard Loren has just arrived back in the Bay Area where he resided from 1970 to 1986. In fact, it was none other than Jerry Garcia, whom Loren would come to manage, that told the young man to go west.
Once here, Loren would manage bands like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and The Doors. In his new book, High Notes: A Rock Memoir (with Stephen Abny), from which Loren will read tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at The Green Arcade bookstore (1680 Market St.), he recounts life backstage and on the road with the countercultural stars. He also took a moment to explain his project and get into some big moments on tour.
How long have you been working on your memoir?
I started writing it in 2008 and I decided that it was a book that I was going to put together on my own terms. I wouldn't seek out representation or corporate publishing affiliation, I just went about writing it all down chronologically.
That was after I had produced the Grateful Dead's 30th anniversary live in Egypt album. That show was basically my vision. I had met Jefferson Airplane's lead singer and I was staying at his house when I moved to California. He had a lot of books about Egypt, which interested me. When the Grateful Dead went on a hiatus in '75 and I was on holiday riding a camel around the pyramids in Egypt one afternoon, I saw a stage and thought, "Hey, maybe the Dead could play here." When I went back I brought it up with the band members, we jumped on it, the band had a meeting and decided. We played there three shows in '78, and the final show there was a lunar eclipse.
How did you and Garcia become friends and collaborators?
When I became Garcia's manager in '73 we spent much of each day in each other's presence. We shared a lot of the same views culturally and socially. He was quite a human being, his interest was boundless, he was a compassionate person, and he played a hell of a guitar.
Those ten years I spent with Garcia measured up to be the ten best years of my life. We liked the same music, art, books on suppressed ancient history and ancient knowledge, stuff about things that happened, the monuments of Egypt, the anomalies that are not part of traditional academia. You know, we look at ourselves as the most advanced form of human, which is more than likely not the case. When you look at some of the structures on the planet, there are just a lot of monuments that are unexplained, mostly metaphysical, we shared the belief that we live in a multidimensional universe where not everything can be seen.
Would you talk about the Doors and your relationship with that band?
Well, I bailed Jim Morrison out of jail in '67. I never had to do that for Jerry. The police officer backstage had no idea he was in the band, and he was in fact maced by the cop, and demanded an apology of the cop. Then he got onstage and retold the story during "Backdoor Man," riling up the crowd and prompting his arrest from stage.
JIm was a poet, there are very few poets who lead rock and roll bands, he was a complex guy, he could be gentle and kind, or irrational and weird. it depended on the drugs he was taking or not taking at the time. He was a prototype. There are others that have followed in his footsteps, but nobody like Jim. His moves were always unique, none of his shows were alike. I don't know if he said thank you, but I'm sure he was grateful.
How does your book, and how do you, look at that time?
It's a collection of stories, a cultural coming of age as me as a young guy in my early 20s, my rites of passage in the music world. My life was shared with a lot of young people, but they happened to be rock stars... it was an amazing time.