When Jerry Garcia was booked on drug possession charges in Golden Gate Park in 1985, it wasn't just 23 packets of "brown and white substances," according to an article in the SF Examiner at the time, that were taken into evidence. A briefcase was also held, one perhaps full of Grateful Dead songs from Garcia and band songwriter Robert Hunter.
"The time Jerry got busted in Golden Gate Park, they took his briefcase," Hunter told Rolling Stone in an interview this month. "I haven't gone searching for it, but I happen to know that briefcase had a number of new songs he was working on."
The Examiner now speculates that the briefcase could still be collecting dust in an evidence room. And according to a copy of the 1985 arrest report obtained by fan blog Jerry Garcia's Middle Finger, a brown briefcase containing miscellaneous papers was indeed among the items taken into evidence upon Garcia's arrest.
Speaking for the San Francisco Police Department, Officer Grace Gatpandan told the Examiner that if Hunter had a case number he might contact police and ask about retrieval. That is, if the briefcase is still around. “They purge stuff," said Gatpandan, "I don’t know if they still have it... they actually could have it. For some reason they could have kept it.”
Yet even if Hunter locates a case number, a request from Garcia’s estate would be needed. Though Garcia died in 1995, his daughter, Trixie Garcia, has expressed interest in the briefcase, an item about which she had no prior knowledge.
Of course, the recovery of more Grateful Dead tunes would only add to the year's celebration of the band, who were founded 50 years ago in Palo Alto before moving to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury. The "core four" members of the band will play a series of commemorative shows in Chicago this summer and may also be mulling Bay Area performances.