Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann joined the band over 50 years ago, and he amassed some incredible stories throughout his tenure with the psychedelic jam-rock legends. One of the funniest tales – which he shared this week on Conan – involved a pot of coffee, some LSD and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
In the late Sixties, the Dead were invited to perform on Hefner’s CBS program, Playboy After Dark. As the band arrived at the studio for soundcheck, they noticed some odd behaviors from the crew, resulting in technical glitches like out-of-focus cameras. “I had this strange suspicion,” Kreutzmann says in the above clip, explaining that famous LSD-maker Owsley Stanley had dosed the set’s communal coffee pot. “Wait a minute – so everybody who’s trying to run the show is on acid?” Conan asks. “Should be a crime, I would think.” But the drummer notes that acid “wasn’t illegal” at the time.
Kreutzmann – on-hand to promote his new memoir, Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead – also talks about joining the Dead and initially despising the band name. “Bob [Weir] and I hated it,” Kreutzmann says. “We argued for hours after that. ‘How can you call a band the Grateful Dead and be successful?’ [Promoter] Bill Graham thought the same thing – he wouldn’t bill us as the Grateful Dead.” The drummer discussed his subsequent arguments with founding guitarist Jerry Garcia, who christened the group, and even sneaks in a moment to geek out with fellow guest Patton Oswalt over Dungeons & Dragons.
The Grateful Dead are bowing out this summer with a series of “Fare Thee Well” concerts, honoring the band’s 50th birthday and the 20th anniversary of Garcia’s passing.