Sonny Barger on Jerry Garcia
From the NYPost:
A HELL'S ANGEL SINGS
The Sonny Barger interview.
By Paul DeRienzo
Ralph Sonny Barger is one of the best-known survivors of the 60s. Whether hanging out with his good friend Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, allegedly holding Rolling Stone Keith Richards at gunpoint at Altamont, or taking on the anti-Vietnam war movement in Oakland, Barger and the Angels are witnesses to the counter-history of counterculture.
Barger's free-wheeling, tough-talking memoir Freedom: Credos from the Road (William Morrow) was published in July.
Did you know that the Altamont case had been reopened? [The Altamont Raceway in California was the site of a 1969 concert that was billed as the West Coast Woodstock. Hell's Angel's members including Sonny Barger had been hired to provide security by the concert promoters.]
They never reopened it because it was never closed, but after 35 years they finally did close it. The prosecutor ruled that Alan [Hell's Angel Alan Passaro] who was charged with the case [stabbing a concert-goer] originally and was found not guilty was the lone assailant. Rumors that there was another assailant were false and it was a justifiable homicide. The guy that got killed [Meredith Hunter] had a gun and was pointing it at the crowd. We've always said he shot it. The police don't want to say that and they still haven't admitted that he shot it. However, he did have it.
[Ed. Note: A California sheriff said in May that investigators prompted by the victim's family used slowed down film of the incident that showed Hunter brandishing a gun as the Rolling Stones were playing, before Passaro jumped in and stabbed him to death. Police said they saw no other assailants and closed the case in June. Passaro died in 1985.]
What did you think of Hunter S. Thompson?
He was probably the greatest writer in the world. But, when he was with us on a run, we were going to fight the cops one day and he locked himself in the trunk of his car. That guy ain't my friend. He's going to run and leave me there when he's supposed to help us.
What about the late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia?
Jerry Garcia was a very good friend of mine. Jerry and I got along well, Jerry and the club got along well. I love Jerry's 60s music; I didn't like Jerry's 90s music. I would go to a concert and he would get the band to play a song just for me and I'd say, "Jerry it stinks, you got to go back," and he would get so mad.
Does that have something to do with what you say in Freedom about having no reverse gear?
Motorcycles don't have a reverse gear. Some people don't look back to the past as much as they look ahead to the future.
Maybe I made that a little too strong about no reverse gear. If you have a motorcycle with a sidecar you could have a reverse gear, but of course I've never had one.