Bob Weir and Joan Baez joined together to pay tribute to fallen spiritualist and psychologist Ram Dass, real name Richard Alpert, at a private memorial service on Friday.
In a six-minute clip from the ceremony, Baez appears onstage where she invites up Weir to join her on “Amazing Grace”, because she admittedly can’t hit those high notes anymore. When Weir saunters up to the stage, however, they don’t go right into the song. First, Weir takes a few minutes to tell the story of how he came to know Alpert and the way they met all the way back in 1966 when the Grateful Dead were living at the abandoned Camp Lagunitas in California. One day, when Weir was out walking the fields, he noticed a man out by the road and decided to go confront him. It turns out that the man was none other than Richard Alpert, who was in the Haight Ashbury with Timothy Leary “sniffing around” as Weir put it.
“He took no time in diving right into it with me,” Weir said as he began to choke up. “I think the point that I’m meaning to make is that before he went to India, before he wrote the books… he was ‘that guy.’ He was a guy who had a lot to give. He gave me the sure, certain understanding that I had a lot to give and he was digging it out of me.”
Following Weir’s anecdote, the pair led the congregation in an a capella rendition of “Amazing Grace”. Slowly, the organ in the back of the hall rose to join in while the entire room filled with the sound of mourners, as Baez led with the lyrics to the next line. Finally, when all words had been exhausted, the two reverted to humming as the organ once again gave way to the sound of their voices.
Watch Bob Weir and Joan Baez sing “Amazing Grace” as a tribute to Ram Dass.
Bob Weir & Joan Baez – “Amazing Grace” – 1/31/20
[Video: Deadheadland Films]
A gallery of photos from the memorial service is also available courtesy of photographer Jay Blakesberg.
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LAST night was a beautiful evening filled with #love for @babaramdass . So much love, laughter, stories and music to soothe the soul! Wavy Gravy spoke, Joan Baez sang, Bob and Joan led Amazing Grace! 💜🌹🙏 a few shots from 1998 with Ram Dass and Wavy, Bobby and Mickey. What an amazing person. We’re all just walking each other home”~Ram Dass 🌹📷 @jayblakesberg