Before running away from home to join what would become the Grateful Dead at the age of 16, Bob Weir was raised by adoptive parents in San Francisco. It wasn’t until he was contacted by his birth mother 80s that he learned of his biological origins. His mother, Phyllis, had become pregnant from a man named Jack Parber while attending the University of Arizona. She arranged for Bob to be adopted by a wealthy family without alerting Jack. She was going through a divorce at the time and forced to keep the pregnancy a secret.
Decades later, Phyllis contacted Bob, but they didn’t particularly hit it off. She did, however, tell him about his birth father. Jack was in the military which didn’t vibe with Weir’s extremely ant-authoritarian views. He hesitated to contact him for over a decade. Finally, in 1996, they met and Bob informed him that he was his son. The two got along right away and remained extremely close over the years.
To top it all off, Jack had four other sons, all of whom happened to be guitarists, and one of whom was a huge Deadhead! Anthony Parber attended several Dead shows throughout the 60s, unaware that the budding guitarist was his brother.
“I was a fan not just of the Grateful Dead, but of Bob Weir in particular,” he said, “the way he played guitar and sang back in 1967 and ’68 when their first records came out. The Dead were gods to me. Between Beatles albums, I would carry on to anyone who would listen about the brilliance of the Grateful Dead.”
Jack Parber passed away this past April, but Bob maintains a close relationship with his musical brothers.
“The whole story is really a little bit of mysticism,” Bob says. “The lesson I learned from my new dad confirms for me that fate follows in your footsteps, so you need to have faith in your path and live life with a sense of wonderment.”