Bob Weir Collapses Onstage during Unbroken Chain (Furthur, Capitol Theater, 4/25/2013)

Bob Weir longstanding rhythm guitarist and rhythm vocalist for the Grateful Dead collapsed on stage with the post-Grateful Dead ensemble Furthur (with bandmate Phil Lesh and various members of top-tier Dead cover bands) at their engagement Thursday night at the Capitol Theatre. 

While playing one of the rarest and most coveted songs in the Grateful Dead repertoire, also a rare strong vehicle for Phil Lesh's distinct singing voice, the band seems not to mind whatsoever while Bob Weir stumbles, then falls (about 0:56).  Uncannily the band just tallies forth while various stage manager and roadie types scoop him up and have a quick chat then shockingly put out a chair for him where he manages (perhaps not shockingly given his collective history for playing beyond what any reasonable person would call 'impaired') to reinsert himself (relatively speaking) into the improvisation (around 2:03). The thing about it is if you were just to listen to the recording itself without the footage you wouldn't really think anything untoward had happened- the version sounds solid if not a touch inspired.
This incident along with what was billed as an inadvertent dosing incident at the Nokia Theatre (7/28/2010) have raised questions about Weir's health, whether alcoholism (which Lesh has battled successfuly in the years since his Hep C diagnosis), or a combination of drug addictions has contributed to his ill health.  Relix magazine is reporting that:

Weir had been experiencing issues throughout the night and during “Unbroken Chain” a chair had been provided for him. Then after a brief break the show resumed, with Lesh indicating that Weir had injured his shoulder in a workout. It is believed that the guitarist took a muscle relaxant which ultimately inhibited his performance. Following his departure the group closed out the run with a pass from “Stella Blue” into “China Cat Sunflower” and then “I Know You Rider” before a "Built To Last” encore.

What's telling about both episodes is how the band seemed perhaps unfazed is not the right word but they seemed to have a contingency in place - suggesting the behaviour had become not unordinary.  Also in both instances known Psychonaut Phil Lesh - who has after all consumed Herculean amounts of LSD and was once described by Warner Brothers records as impossible to control- suggested prescription drugs were to blame.  At the Nokia it was a 'prescription drug reaction on an empty stomach' at the Capitol it was 'shoulder injury and a muscle relaxant'.  Historically the Dead as an organization, who has made a giant money spinning enterprise out of hundreds of thousands of individuals drug experiences, have spun their own (often drug and alcohol induced) health problems to their liking; when Garcia slipped into a diabetic coma in '86, it was chalked up to exhaustion and undiagnosed diabetes- not alcohol, opium or a stroke. Spin control is understandable but treacherous and more than just a little bit Machiavellian from a band that once thought nothing of dosing unwitting record executives to say nothing of a thwarted plan to paint the walls of a hall with liquid LSD in advance of a Republican convention.

Bob Weir


Richie Havens (January 21, 1941 – April 22, 2013)

Although known entirely for doing renditions of folk and pop songs written by others Richie Havens was undoubtedly one of the signal performers of the 20th century.  He owes a strong place in the cultural psyche to his opening three hour set at Woodstock where Havens worked through his whole repertoire as delayed artists made their way towards the stage.  Improvising an old negro spiritual Motherless Child, which would later become the song Freedom, bore an indelible place in the minds of music lovers everywhere.

Live and in performance Havens was an incredibly giving performer who peppered his set, such as in his version of Dolphins- made famous by Tim Buckley, with callings of the zodiac.  His version of Here Comes The Sun rivals Harrison's own - which was written at a time when the Beatles communicated more through lawyers and creative waters ran dry like winter's streams.  Known for his rhythmic almost plodding style of guitar work (often in open tunings) he was almost always accompanied by some sort of hand drum on albums such as Live At The Cellar Door, Mixed Bag and Collection. Likewise Fire And Rain, a staple of the rock radio canon, shed circuit, and a personal song of loss made common was made anew through Richie's tender artistry. 

Richie will be remembered for the blessings of ease he bestowed on his audience and an uncommon clarity of purpose.


Shuggie Otis & Frank Zappa (Rare Acoustic Jam 1970)

We can't say we've ever even heard Frank Zappa play guitar acoustically so the mere fact that Shuggie Otis engages with him for the better part of ten minutes seems like something short of a hellfire miracle.

Otis who's quoted in a recent interview revealing that for all of his efforts to remain out of the limelight offers came in from bands including: Rolling Stones,  Blood, Sweat and Tears, Spirit, David Bowie, and Buddy Miles notably all black ensemble.

As to the opportunity to collaborate with FZ:

"Great experience. First of all, he was really easy to work with. Friendly guy. He and my father spoke for what seemed like hours after the session. And I got to play his guitar. I met him the first time when he interviewed my father for Life magazine. He invited dad over, so I went with him. That night, we jammed in the basement."