Wavy Gravy On the Road With The Grateful Dead

On the Road With The Grateful Dead and the Merry Pranksters

Born Hugh Romney, Wavy Gravy introduced an entire generation of hippies to granola with the famous statement “What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000,” made to the crowd at Woodstock. Wavy Gravy, the original and unofficial king, jester, warrior and bard of the counterculture, leads Newsweek’ s Special Editions on a meandering trip through his life with Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary with a ‘Fare Thee Well’ tour this weekend. Any opening thoughts about Jerry? I wrote a haiku when Jerry passed [in 1995], and it goes as such. On hearing of his demise, I wrote: “The fat man rocks out/Hinges fall off heaven’s door/Come on in, says Bill.” You might have to explain that Bill is Bill Graham, the concert promoter who died a few years before Jerry. The Grateful Dead and the Merry Pranksters once did this cross-country bus ride, putting on shows as we traveled, called “Medicine Ball Caravan.” It was right around the time of the East Pakistani flood. Relief was coming so slow. We had so much media we could embarrass the government into saying, “By God, there’s hippies beating us there; we’d better do a better job!” So these English rock promoters put on a benefit for us at the Roundhouse in London and brought us a bus, which we took on the road to help the victims. It got so cold in the Atlas Mountains in Turkey that the gas froze in the tank. This Turkish truck driver came along, started a fire under the bus and said, “When the lines thaw, you drive like Hell,” which we did. I lived on the roof of that bus for months on end. It was wonderful. Going over the Khyber Pass on the […]