‘Irresponsible, immature … completely lacking in soldierly qualities’: Why the Army booted Jerry Garcia 60 years ago – U.S.

‘Irresponsible, immature … completely lacking in soldierly qualities’: Why the Army booted Jerry Garcia 60 years ago – U.S.



Recruit Jerome J. Garcia’s staunch resistance to the strictures of army life six a long time in the past obtained him discharged simply months into his enlistment.


5 years later, he based the Grateful Lifeless and Jerry Garcia would go on to be the namesake of each a pot model and an ice cream taste.


It might appear apparent on reflection that the founding father of one of many largest psychedelic rock jam bands of the Sixties would not have been minimize out to serve “the person,” and his commanding officer made that clear in a December 1960 discharge suggestion.


“Garcia has steadfastly maintained a faulty perspective towards superiors, authority, and army life usually,” wrote Capt. John H. Downey of the thirtieth Artillery Group (Air Protection) headquarters battery at Fort Winfield Scott on the Presidio of San Francisco.


The legendary musician’s official army personnel file got here to the eye of followers and music publications after Eric Schwartz, host of the Lone Star Lifeless program on Dallas radio station KNON, posted photos from it to social media this 12 months. Digital scans have been obtainable on the Nationwide Archives web site since November 2016 and have been thought of public document since August 2005, 10 years after Garcia’s dying, archives spokeswoman Laura Sheehan informed Stars and Stripes by e-mail earlier this 12 months.


The information present Garcia did not make an excellent first impression on the battery’s 1st Sgt. Walter L. Heller, both.


“Throughout the first two weeks of his project right here, Garcia got here to my consideration due to his private uncleanliness and the filthy situation of his private billeting space within the barracks,” Heller wrote in a proper assertion.


An Military psychiatric analysis decided Garcia was emotionally unstable and held an “intense hostility in the direction of [the] regimentation of the Military.”


Born in San Francisco in 1942, he was raised within the Bay Space, no less than partly by his grandmother, he informed Rolling Stone in a 1972 interview, describing how he’d performed music from a younger age together with his brother who would go on to serve 4 years within the Marines.


Garcia started experimenting with pot when he was 15, the identical 12 months he obtained his first electrical guitar, he informed the journal. About two years later, issues at house weren’t “understanding” and he dropped out of highschool, seeking to the army as the one choice to “get away from all the things.”


“Yeah, 17. I joined the Military, smuggled my guitar in,” he mentioned. “I simply needed to be some place utterly completely different.”


However the Military didn’t find yourself taking him all that removed from the place he’d grown up, and he did not serve something close to to the three years he signed up for in April 1960.


“I lasted 9 months,” he informed Rolling Stone. “They transferred me to the Presidio in San Francisco … a good looking, pretty spot … overlooking the water and the Golden Gate Bridge and all that and these outdated barracks and virtually nothing to do.”


After arriving in August, he obtained into the acoustic guitar — and into hassle.


Within the span of a pair months, he racked up three NJPs — together with one for willful disobedience and two for going AWOL — and a abstract court-martial for breaking restriction, which obtained him busted from personal plus 30 days’ laborious labor and $50 docked pay, information present.


When recommended, he informed his leaders he didn’t plan on shaping up.


“I’ve discovered Garcia to be unreliable, irresponsible, immature, unwilling to just accept authority, and utterly missing in soldierly qualities,” Downey wrote. “Garcia’s solely curiosity seems to be getting out of the Military. He exhibits no real interest in any operate related with the army.”


Capt. Levin F. Magruder, an Military psychiatrist, discovered him to be a “gentle spoken, nice younger man” who lacked “motivation for compliance with the principles and laws that didn’t match into his private code of proper and incorrect,” his analysis exhibits. It was nothing the Military might repair, Magruder wrote.


After receiving a normal discharge, Garcia went to Palo Alto, the place he befriended fellow Military veteran Robert Hunter, who would later write lyrics for the Lifeless. Each have been residing out of damaged down vehicles in an empty lot, he informed Rolling Stone.


“Hunter had these massive tins of crushed pineapple that he’d gotten from the Military … and I had this glove compartment filled with plastic spoons, and we had this little cooperative scene consuming this crushed pineapple day after day and sleeping within the vehicles and strolling round,” he mentioned.


After just a few years of taking part in in espresso homes and giving classes at a music retailer, he shaped a jug band with Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Bob Weir and Invoice Kreutzman. They later added Phil Lesh and commenced calling themselves the Warlocks.


They attended the primary public Acid Take a look at convened by writer Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in November 1965, precisely 5 years since Garcia’s second AWOL incident. They debuted because the Grateful Lifeless every week later at one other of the weekly LSD-fueled occasions.


Garcia’s resistance to the army’s rigidity appears attribute of the group’s musical free-spiritedness.


“The Lifeless has all the time been about greater than Rock and Roll, about inventive curiosity and freedom,” Bruce Hornsby mentioned throughout the band’s 1994 Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame induction. “These guys have really all the time gone their very own method.”


Simply as Garcia had gone AWOL from the Military just a few instances, he skipped the induction ceremony to the rock and roll pantheon. He died the next 12 months of a coronary heart assault in a rehab clinic, days after turning 53.


garland.chad@stripes.com

Twitter: @chadgarland





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