Bob Weir Founding
Member of the Grateful Dead
Both my natural and adopted
fathers were military men. My adopted dad attended Annapolis for seven
years and came out
with the military equivalent of a doctorate in Engineering. When they
gave him his first commission and put him out to
sea he was seasick from the time he left port to the time he got back. It was
so bad they had to put him in the hospital. Then he tried it again right at
the beginning of World War II. He wanted nothing more than to serve his country
but it just was not going to happen. He showed a lot of perseverance. He was
quite a guy. In fact, never in my presence did he ever use bad language. Rarely
did I see him ever become angry, and it was not that he wasn't a lively,
energized person, he
was just a consummate gentleman. He was born with three
kidneys so he could drink all he wanted and was never affected. He
did not drink much, but as far as getting a little buzzed, it was not
a doable deal for him. I think one time my parents had
a party and he was drinking pretty much all night and toward the end
of the evening
I may have seen a twinkle inhis eye. That was about it.
My natural father was born and
raised in the Tucson, AZ area. He was 19 when he joined the Air Force
and they put him behind the wheel of a bomber. He later
became a test pilot and rose to the rank of Colonel. In fact, when he announced
he was retiring, they offered him a Generalship but he declined because he
had a son who was terminally ill.
My adopted parents passed on in
1972 from separate illnesses. My mom died on my dad's birthday and
later my dad died on my mom¹s birthday. So
you don¹t argue with
that kind of stuff. Then about ten years went by and I came home
from a tour and it was my first night home and I was trying to sleep
I had this very strange dream about my family home, my brother and
a stillborn baby. And at the point of the dream where my brother
and I pick up the baby and hold it, and each other, I was awakened
phone ringing in real life. It
was the Grateful Dead office calling to say there was a lady on the
phone by the name of Phyllis who says she¹s your mother and
did I know anything about this. Apparently she had known for some
who I was and had tracked
me, but had to sign a promise not to contact me while my adopted parents
were still living.
I myself had actually done some research to try and find her but she
pretty effectively covered her tracks. But I went and met her the next
day and unfortun-ately we did not exactly hit it off she had twelve
other kids. So I could ascertain with a fair bit of ease that she didn¹t
really have a need for me in her life. But I kept in touch with her,
called her on Mother's
day and over this time she gave me some information regarding my dad; his
name and where she last saw him which at that point was 40+ years.
The story was that when she got pregnant she ran off to San Francisco without
his knowing, and had me, and then came back but never let on that I existed.
So he had no idea he had a son. When she told me who he was I had a private
investigator track him down. It took all of an hour for him to find him.
As fate would have it, it turned out he was the commanding officer at Hamilton
Field, the local Air Force base in San Francisco. But because I am almost
anti-authoritarian I figured this would not go well for either of us because
it does not get much more authoritarian than the commanding officer of a
military base. Then I just sat on the info for close to ten years. Finally
this guy¹s not getting any younger, I guess I better just buck up and
do this. But there was still some apprehension because I didn¹t know what
I was going to find. If my dad was an ass what does that say about me? I just
assumed that military officers chose that profession so they could boss people
around. So I figured I had three choices for contact: I could write him a letter but
he might crumble it up and throw it away. I could go see him but the
last thing I wanted was for my first and only memory of my father watching
him clutch his chest and fall over backwards. I decided to call him.
It was early evening the next day and I called and said "I¹m
looking for John Parver,"
and he said "That would be me"
and I told him "well, I'm Robert Weir and I live in Mill Valley and I¹ve
been doing some research and have dug up some information that may be of
considerable interest to you. But first I have to ask you a question
And he replied, "ok."
And I continued, "It concerns events that took place in Tucson
about fifty years ago"
and he said "ok"
and then I asked "is it possible that you were romantically
involved with a woman by the name of Phyllis?"
and he said "well, yes"
and so I told him "sir, in that case there's a very strong likelihood
that, even though I"m not sure how many children you have, but you may
have one more than you know."
This was followed by a long silence and
then he said,
"The only Robert Weir I know is the guy that sings and plays with the Grateful
And I said "well sir, that would be me."
So we arranged to meet the next day at a local restaurant of his suggestion
which was coincidentally a favorite of both of ours, and we have become very,
very close. We both share a singular inability to take anything seriously
or an ability to make light of pretty nearly any situation. The more time
together the more similarities I see and realize that the apple does not
fall far from the tree. And even though I didn¹t grow up with him, in
many ways I am as much, if not more like him then is own sons.
On a weekly basis my family and I have been going up and staying with
my father in Nevada where he now lives. We stay over for a night and
cooks me and my family pancakes. Towards the beginning of this year he and
his wife Milenna began to leave a guitar out that belonged to his eldest
son who tragically died of Spinal Cancer some time ago. He had been a
musician in a fairly successful band and had a collection of guitars when
he died that the remaining sons divvied up but because nobody really
one it was left behind with his parents. They pulled it out of the closet
and it was in a funky old case and it was just sitting in the corner
of their home.
Now I saw this case for a month of so and finally rose to the bait and opened
it up and inside there was this beat up old Telecaster with one pickup kind
of sprung out of it¹s moorings and broken up a little. So after looking
at itfor two or three weeks I finally said, "okay, I'll bite, can I
take this to rehearsal with me and have my roadie / tech guy fix it up?'
and they said
"we thought you'd never ask."
So I took it to him and he had it working in no
time at all. And I plugged it into my rig (amplifier) at our first rehearsal
for the tour. Now I had not even
picked up a Telecaster in years, let alone played one, but I started playing
it and from the first note it was obvious, for me, for the band, for everyone
that the characteristically tin sound really was perfect and helped everything.
It became my "A" guitar.
After no one wanting this guitar it fell out of
the sky one me. All of the family, as opposed to feeling forsaken, are really
overjoyed at seeing a piece of their older brother and eldest son make it on
the big stage. The whole story is really a little bit of mysticism. The lesson
I learned from my new dad is confirming for me that fate follows in your footsteps
so you need to have faith in your path and live life with a sense of wondermen