Five Things We Learned from Bob Weir’s New Documentary
The Other One: The Long Strange Trip of Bob Weir casts a (love) light on Bob Weir, Grateful Dead rhythm guitarist and music's most talented "number two." The Netflix original documentary, which premiered Friday (May 22), follows his journey from psychedelic cowboy to elder statesman and father, with comments from Weir himself, along with band members, friends, family and associates.
Drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart talk about Bob Weir's proclivity for pulling groupies. Phil Lesh recounts how Weir's mother made him and Jerry Garcia swear "mighty oaths" that they would see that young Bob finished school. Songwriting partner John Perry Barlow remembers meeting a dorky, young Weir at a school for the "bright but unmanageable." Even Sammy Hagar shows up to share his admiration.
Curious about other revelations? Here are Five Things We Learned from Bob Weir’s New Documentary, from guest writer Ben Djarum:
Together, Weir and Cassady – a Beat Generation associate and Merry Prankster – shared a room in the Grateful Dead's Victorian at 710 Asbury. Bob's first serious songwriting venture, "(That's It For) The Other One," was directly inspired by Neal Cassady. Weir explains that the first night the band played the tune, was also the same night that Cassady died along the train tracks in Mexico, February 4, 1968. "At that moment," Weir explains, "Neal was free of the bonds of space and time. ... He was with me that night." (The deadest of Deadheads may notice that the Grateful Dead had already rolled out "The Other One" late in 1967, but it's to be assumed that Bob's speaking only of his finished lyrics.)
Bored with the limitations of being a rock and roll rhythm guitar player, Weir looked well outside rock. While Jerry Garcia wove guitar lines over the rest of the band, Bob would keep the band together with his unique harmonic phrasing and chord inversions, providing dynamic interplay for Garcia. In interviews, Jerry Harrison and Lee Ranaldo both hail Weir as a chief influence on their own work.
Natascha was introduced to Weir as a 15-year-old fan, trying to get backstage at a Grateful Dead concert. They kept up a friendship over the years, until 1999 when they married. They have two daughters. Bonus trivia for the 'heads: Both children were born in the Weir home, where the Grateful Dead recorded Blues for Allah back in 1975.
In the darkest days of Jerry Garcia's struggle with heroin, Bob assumed the role of "bagman" – holding onto Garcia's dope and only doling out what was asked for. However, Weir was chief among those who desperately tried to get Jerry to clean up his act. The only activity that Jerry could get into was Scuba diving. There is a fantastic underwater sequence featuring Jerry and Bob diving off Kauai. Jerry pets an eel.
Bob was adopted at birth by a well-to-do family in Atherton. While they didn't necessarily approve of their son's lifestyle, Bob showing them his gold record of American Beauty brought them around. Years after the passing of his adopted parents, Bob felt the urge to seek out his birth parents. Bob's mother passed shortly after their meeting, but he was able to get in touch with his birth father. Right from their first meeting, he and Bob have enjoyed a close relationship ever since.