“He just didn’t know any other way.”
Steve Parish was a roadie for the Grateful Dead and manager for the Jerry Garcia Band. His 2003 autobiography, Home Before Daylight: My Life on the Road With the Grateful Dead, is about his own life and experiences. It’s not a tell-all by any means, but of course his story overlaps with theirs.
His stories about losing Jerry Garcia to addiction are heartbreaking. The first excerpt below is about the aftermath of Parish losing his wife and children in a car crash; the second comes years later, as it became clear Garcia was nearing the end of his life:
That first night, when I got to the show, Jerry approached me backstage and gave me a hug. He seemed so sad, so moved by my loss. And then, in a twisted but genuinely loving gesture, he did something that astounded me.
“Hey, man,” he said, his eyes brimming with tears. “You want some heroin? It’ll kill the pain.”
I thanked him but declined the offer. “If I did anything right now– one snort, one drink– I’d never stop.”
He nodded and told me again how sorry he was. In that instant I felt more pity for Jerry than I did for myself, because he really was trying to help. He just didn’t know any other way.
There is nothing quite as sad and painful as living with a junkie. You watch him die, inch by inch, and there’s nothing you can do about it.