On the heels of the highly anticipated release of his autobiography, Deal: My Three Decades Of Drumming, Dreams and Drugs With The Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann stopped by HuffPost Live along with the book’s co-author, Benjy Eisen, to talk about LSD, Jerry Garcia, his favorite current musicians and much more.
“It’s Fear and Loathing in Bill Kreutzmann’s living room,” Eisen says. “He’s still living [these stories] on a daily basis.”
Host Ricky Camilleri prompts a story in which Garcia and Kreutzmann had always planned to get sober and go scuba diving in Hawaii once the Dead broke up. Since Bill was the only one to make it out to Hawaii, did he indeed get sober?
“No, far from it. We have little beach get togethers and drumming and late night get togethers that are just all the fun in the world. But it’s also balanced by a healthy life.”
Eisen and Kreutzmann first met on Jam Cruise when Eisen interviewed him for Rolling Stone. Prior to the interview, Kreutzmann asked Eisen if he had found any good acid on the boat, so Eisen went on a hunt, reporting back that there wasn’t anything good enough quality for him.
“People get nervous about me talking about acid like it’s gonna be something that will hurt my career,” Kreutzmann says. To which the host responds, “YOU’RE THE DRUMMER OF THE GRATEFUL DEAD! If I wanted to get acid I’d go to the parking lot of one of your shows!”
Regardless, though, Kreutzmann says “We are about playing great music. We’re not about taking drugs. Nobody in our band has ever said ‘kids, go out and take drugs’…We weren’t about drugs, we were about music. And if people needed to take drugs to feel better with the music, so be it!”
He talks about acid not being right for everyone, and about cocaine being a darker drug. When he had to do cocaine after every song during a show in the 70s, he realized it was a problem.
Kreutzmann goes on to talk about Jerry being his biggest musical influence, also focusing on Jerry the person, rather than Jerry from the Dead. Something he always found fascinating was that Jerry would take the time to talk people down who were on bad acid trips. “He was the biggest hearted man I know.” But, there are other people who could influence people just as much as Jerry did. “I think it’s a mistake to stay locked into anything,” he says. “Moving the music from one time period to another and having it change is really important.”
Guess who’s Billy’s favorite current drummer? “Adam Deitch is my new favorite hero. That cat plays so beautifully and so natural. People listening to this probably think, ‘wait a minute Billy, he’s a hip-hop drummer,’ but none of that matters. When you see somebody play who plays from their heart and is just playing music really well, that’s all it is. You don’t talk genre, you don’t talk type of music, you just enjoy what you’re hearing. I just came back from New Orleans two days ago, I did four nights at the Republic till 4 in the morning, and the times I wasn’t playing before that I went and saw Adam play, and it was amazing. And one of my favorite bass players of all time, Oteil Burbridge was playing bass in that band. But he’s the guy, man. If you’re a drummer, go listen to Adam.”
Of course, the topic veers back to LSD and Billy talks about his first acid trip. “It was the most important, and it was a key. The key to this. I was 18 and all along, society, my parents, school, said ‘this is how it is.’ And I was always suspicious. I didn’t believe this was all there was. I believed there was a hell of a lot more out there than I was being taught. Then I took acid and the LSD said, ‘yeah you’re right!'”
Guess what? Kreutzmann is a Game of Thrones fan! He caught the Grateful Dead references, but thinks they could apply to many things, not just the Dead.
Watch the whole interview on HuffPost Live here.