[sixties-l] Rock's Family Feud (fwd)

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Date: Mon Oct 22 2001 - 02:48:27 EDT

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    Date: Sun, 21 Oct 2001 23:07:09 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Rock's Family Feud

    Rock's Family Feud

    Since Jerry Garcia's death six years ago, his widow, an ex-wife, children,
    employees and many others have fought over his estate.

    By SHAWN HUBLER , Times Staff Writer

    SAN FRANCISCO -- The set-to over the ice cream has ended. Ditto for the
    battle over the trust for the youngest child. The guitar maker's bequest is
    still pending and the war over the lithographs still has some loose ends.
    But the ex-wife and the ex-girlfriends and the guy who stood guard during
    acid trips have been dealt with, and the acupuncturist and BMW dealer have
    been paid.

    In short, the affairs of the late Jerry Garcia appear at last to be
    reaching denouement, six long, strange years after the Grateful Dead's
    famed lead guitarist died in his sleep in a local drug rehab facility.
    While harsher priorities occupied the headlines, a petition was quietly
    filed this month in Marin County Superior Court to close the estate of the
    '60s icon. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 30, after which the last bits of
    a hippie fortune valued at $9,936,492.27, give or take a guitar pick, are
    expected to be disbursed.

    The approaching deadline is seen, here in Garcia country, as either the
    last fadeout of Garcia's playful, idealistic era or as the finale to one of
    the rock world's saddest family feuds. "This is basically the end, and I
    think everyone's glad," said David Hellman, Garcia's longtime tax attorney
    and the estate's co-executor.

    But as anyone who has ever sat through one of the Dead's famously drawn-out
    jams knows, things can also only seem to be over. Already the many lawyers
    involved are talking about a "post-estate phase." At issue are, among other
    things, some $4.6-million worth of annual royalties and six years' worth of
    bad energy between the children and widow of the affable, wildly popular

    "It's too bad," said the attorney for three of the five kids.

    "Unfortunate," agreed the attorney for Garcia's third and last wife,
    Deborah Koons Garcia.

    "Who would have ever thought it would have turned out this way?" sighed
    Garcia's second and best-known wife, the Merry Prankster earth mother
    Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams, who sued for roughly half the estate and
    settled in 1998 for $1.25 million. "I'm sure Jerry would have been really

    The back story to the Garcia battle could fill--and has filled--volumes,
    though, under the current circumstances, has the feel of something plucked
    from a parallel universe. Grievances pale in the aftermath of Sept. 11, and
    the stakes are barely middle class by tech-boom standards. Still, San
    Francisco is both Garcia's hometown and a city with a real soft spot for
    time warps, and the estate remains a point of intense local interest.

    People here can recite from memory how Jerome John Garcia was born to a San
    Francisco nurse and her husband, a Spanish immigrant jazz clarinetist, who
    named him after composer Jerome Kern. How his big brother Cliff
    accidentally chopped off Jerry's middle finger when they were children,
    fooling around with axes. How his father died on a fishing trip and his
    mother supported the family, even after remarriage, by managing
    working-class bars.

    Biographies and oral histories offer accounts of Garcia's first puff of pot
    (in 1957) and of his beatnik years around Palo Alto, playing guitar and
    dabbling in art school. The tales typically have a playful, nostalgic glow:
    the folkie years with Sara Ruppenthal, his first wife; the "Electric
    Kool-Aid Acid Test" years as the house band for the LSD-tripping Merry
    Pranksters; the Summer of Love in Haight-Ashbury with his bandmates and the
    free-spirited Mountain Girl.

    Never mind that the drugs grew harder with each decade the Dead remained in
    business, to the point that Garcia's heroin-and-cigarette-wracked body
    nearly gave out several times. By the time he died at 53 of heart failure,
    he was seen, not just as a rock artist, but as a symbol of tenacious
    lightness, the Cal Ripken of reprobate flower children. President Bill
    Clinton mourned him on MTV as a "genius" even as he spoke of Garcia's
    "demons." San Francisco authorities hoisted a tie-dyed flag over City Hall
    in his memory. National newspapers ran his obituary on the front page.

    But Garcia's private life was more complex than the public perception.
    "Deadheads will tell you what a peaceful guy Jerry was and what a trippy
    scene it was and how it was all love and peace, but it wasn't," said
    Oakland musician and author David Gans, who has written three books on the
    Dead and hosts the nationally syndicated radio show "The Grateful Dead Hour."

    "It was a real backstabbing scene, Byzantine and complicated. Some of the
    entrenchments went back decades. It's a shame, truly, that he left such a
    mess behind."

    Vibes were especially--and famously--harsh between Adams and Deborah Koons
    Garcia, a dark-haired filmmaker whom Garcia had met the year Adams gave
    birth to their second daughter, and whom he married in 1994 after he and
    Adams finally split up.

    Blair Jackson, author of "Garcia: An American Life," reports that the widow
    "pointedly" left Adams off the guest list for the invitation-only funeral.
    Robert Greenfield, who edited a 1996 oral history about Garcia, writes that
    Garcia's cremated remains had to be scattered twice because of a dispute
    among Adams, Koons Garcia and various band members over whether Garcia
    would have wanted his ashes to go into San Francisco Bay or the Ganges
    River in India.

    "Concerning the screaming fight on the dock {nbsp}... as to who would be
    permitted to go along on what was, after all was said and done, Jerry's
    last trip, the less said the better," wrote Greenfield. Suffice it to say
    that Dead insiders were unsurprised when, in 1997, the two women became
    stars of "Court TV," thanks to the widow's decision to stop payment on
    Adams' $5-million, 20-year divorce agreement. Adams prevailed but settled
    for a lump sum of $1.25 million when the estate appealed.

    That much-publicized fight, lawyers say, was part--but only part--of the
    reason the estate has taken so long to sort out. Other sides of the story
    lie in the 16-plus volumes of the probate court file.

    Garcia's personal life, at least as reflected in legal papers, appears to
    have been one long, fruitless struggle to please, appease and escape his
    loved ones. The documents are riddled with arguments over unconsummated
    marriage proposals and unsigned child-support deals and under-the-table
    pledges and backstage vows.

    There are numerous heirs, born to numerous women: Heather Garcia Katz, born
    in 1963 to Ruppenthal, a Stanford woman he'd wed after being informed she
    was pregnant; Annabelle and Theresa Garcia, his children by Adams, born out
    of wedlock in the brown-rice '70s; Sunshine Kesey, whose father was the
    author Ken Kesey but who was raised by Adams as Garcia's stepchild; Keelin
    Garcia, born in 1987 to Manasha Matheson, a much-younger Deadhead who had
    known Garcia since she'd caught his eye at a Dead concert in her teens.

    Five kids in all, by two ex-wives and one financially dependent mistress,
    plus one widow, numerous business partners and countless employees,
    attorneys and camp followers. In life, Garcia may have seemed the
    bushy-haired personification of Zen-like nonattachment, but in death--like
    a lot of celebrities--he was notable mainly for his earthly obligations.

    "By the end, he was carrying the world on his shoulders," said Gans, the
    radio show host.

    Thus, no fewer than 13 law firms are being kept abreast of estate
    proceedings. Scores of claims have been reviewed and dispatched. The
    smallest: a $980 claim from a personal trainer who saw Garcia the month
    before he checked into rehab. The largest: a long, barely legible demand
    for $1.3 billion from a woman who claimed to be related to the Allman
    Brothers and carrying Garcia's love child.

    "If Jerry'd been buried he'd a done rolled over," the woman had complained
    in a supporting statement she'd scrawled on stationery from, among other
    places, the Chateau Marmont in L.A. Her documentation included a letter
    from representatives for Duane Allman, asking that she stop sending him
    tapes of her music.

    The personal trainer got his money; the woman did not.

    In between was a litany of demands, most of which were aggressively, even
    harshly, challenged. Supporters of Adams and Matheson claimed, publicly and
    privately, that Koons Garcia, the widow, used her power as a co-executor to
    inflict financial and emotional wounds.

    Garcia and Adams' daughter, Theresa, ended up having to sell the Toyota
    4-Runner her father had bought her as a high school graduation gift because
    her stepmother and the estate refused to continue making the payments,
    according to court papers. Esther Lerner, a San Francisco lawyer who, when
    Garcia died, was negotiating a child-support deal for his youngest child,
    Keelin, said that when she gave the estate her unpaid bill, the widow
    accused her of peddling stories to the tabloids.

    In fact, Lerner says, she had spent considerable time trying to persuade
    gossip columnists not to print things that the child's young Deadhead
    mother had naively told them. "I almost walked out of the mediation," said
    Lerner. "I ended up taking a cut of several thousand dollars just to get
    out of there and get the thing resolved."

    Koons Garcia, who lives in Mill Valley, did not respond to requests through
    her lawyers for comment. But Hellman, the estate lawyer, says the estate
    had to question every outlay because by the time Garcia died, his cash flow
    had been almost wholly siphoned away.

    Court papers hint at the size of the financial outflow: a claim from
    Garcia's acupuncturist for $10,080; another from his holistic health
    practitioner for $4,277.80; yet another from his BMW dealer for $25,404.10
    for repairs on a loaner he'd wrecked while his other BMW was being worked
    on; the $20,000 a month he'd been paying Adams under their divorce
    agreement; a $3,000 a month, three-year stipend he'd agreed to pay Barbara
    "Brigid" Meier, an old girlfriend he'd proposed to, then dropped--after a
    fight over his drug use, she says--for Koons Garcia. ("I didn't ask for
    it," Meier said from her home in Taos, N.M., where she is now a real estate
    agent, having finally won a posthumous claim to her last $21,000 from
    Garcia. "It was offered. Offered. And I was like, 'OK, whatever. If this
    will make you feel better.'") The mortgage on the half-million-dollar house
    in Marin County he'd bought for Matheson, now 41, and Keelin; a bill from
    the child's tutor for $1,643.

    Not to mention Garcia's employees: The roadie who wanted "undisclosed"
    compensation for "babysitting Garcia and [late bandmate Ron] 'Pigpen'
    [McKernan] when they were tripping." The personal assistant and the
    housekeeper who, together, claimed some $27 million in royalties for
    handling his art.

    His office manager, who said he had promised her half of the licensing fees
    from Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream as severance if her work with
    him ever ended. (The roadie's claim was rejected, the art claims have
    tentatively settled for much less money and the office manager settled
    confidentially for a lump sum.)

    Then there has been the matter of Garcia's guitar maker, Doug Irwin, the
    only non-family member to be named a beneficiary in the will. Garcia willed
    Irwin five electric guitars Irwin had built for him in the 1970s and '80s.
    The instruments have become so closely associated with Garcia that the Rock
    and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland has borrowed three to display in its lobby.

    But Irwin, who has been destitute since a 1998 hit-and-run accident nearly
    killed him, had to sue because the Grateful Dead contends the band owned
    all its instruments communally, and therefore the guitars weren't Garcia's
    to give away.

    "The thing was, Jerry really, truly cared about the people around him,"
    said Irwin, a long-haired man with a nervous laugh who became one of the
    Bay Area rock scene's master artisans after learning guitar-making on a
    welfare program. He now lives with his mother in Hemet.

    "Jerry," he said, "had this uncanny ability to give people dignity."

    But that uncanny ability to connect came with a price tag. In court
    declarations, Koons Garcia said that handling her husband's affairs had
    helped her see how used he was by the weak souls around him, and "how
    insidiously Jerry was repeatedly victimized and misled." She has been
    criticized for the compensation she has drawn for executing the will--more
    than $450,000, not counting her one-third inheritance and a claim to nearly
    $650,000 more in community property. But even her critics acknowledge that
    the estate is now being competently handled.

    "There wouldn't be an estate to distribute if if weren't for Deborah," said
    her lawyer, Max Gutierrez Jr. He added that she had a fiduciary duty to
    avoid being swayed by sympathy for "the huge, huge number of hanger-on-ers"
    whose dependence compelled Garcia to keep working even in ill health.

    "She comes from independently wealthy means," Gutierrez said. "She has no
    need of this estate. She'll be very pleased to see this closed, so she can
    get on with her life."

    At least one big item, however, remains outstanding: the future of Garcia's
    intellectual property and licensing empire.

    Besides his songwriting royalties, valued in court papers at $1.5 million a
    year, and the million-dollar-a-year lithograph business spawned by his
    paintings, Garcia's work generated more than $2 million a year in
    merchandising income, according to court records. There is the Ben &
    Jerry's license, worth $250,000 a year. There are royalties from Jerry
    Garcia ties, T-shirts, snowboards, wine, Birkenstock sandals and a $15.99
    Jerry Garcia action figure "in a beautifully trippy package," according to
    the toy maker.

    Court documents indicate that the estate is negotiating for a line of Jerry
    Garcia scarves and Jerry Garcia linens, and hoping to get financing for an
    estate-sanctioned Jerry Garcia documentary. But the $4.6-million-plus
    stream of income depends on the heirs' ability to negotiate as a united
    front, and to do that, lawyers say, they must create a limited liability
    corporation through which to sell exclusive rights to Garcia's art, music
    and image. The problem, they say, is that children and widow have been
    unable to agree on a manager because both sides want control. Consequently,
    all sides are girding for fresh rounds of "post-estate" litigation, in the
    event that the feuding kills the golden goose.

    The threat of further court battles is disappointing to all parties.

    Adams and Matheson say Garcia's children are ready for resolution. Heather,
    37, is a violinist and co-principal concertmaster with the Redwood Symphony
    in Redwood City. Sunshine, 35, is a glassblower and is moving her business
    from the Bay Area to Eugene, Ore., where Adams lives now, she says, in a
    "big wooden house with, like, five bedrooms and a lot of fir trees."

    Annabelle, 31, is a painter married to a musician and lives a few miles
    from her mother. Theresa, 27, is a Bay Area art teacher.

    Keelin, 13, plays piano, sings in three choirs and lives in the Marin
    County house that Garcia bought for her. "She has Jerry's same dark eyes
    and beautiful smile and charming personality," says Matheson, who describes
    herself as a painter and film and music producer. The approaching
    resolution of the estate, she adds, has left her "very relieved."

    "Life goes on," said Adams, who, after her court battle, "decided that I
    had to let go. It took a couple of years, but I had a long conversation
    with myself and now I'm happy. I see my kids on a daily basis. I live quietly."

    At 55, she says, she writes poetry and makes art and stays close to her
    "Merry Prankster roots, ever dancing, ever prancing." She lived for a while
    with a lover, but that ended, and she hasn't remarried.

    "My only wish is that Jerry would have lived longer," she said. "It would
    be nice to have him around today."

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