London 20 March 1981
The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia wasn’t a typical subject for an interview with NME in 1981. This was the period when the paper was still incredibly popular with a circulation in excess of 200,000 and had moved on from punk to be championing new wave, post punk and particularly obscure regional ‘indie’ bands. The interview was conducted by Paul Morley who was certainly not known as a ‘Dead-Head’.
The interview took place in a dimly-lit apartment in central London. Jerry Garcia was perfectly amenable sitting on the floor smoking cigarettes. I only used to shoot using available light if possible which was a challenge here so I took him into the bathroom as that was the brightest room. After a few shots by the bathroom mirror I asked Jerry if he would mind getting into the bath (clothed) and he laughed and hopped in without hesitation. When the interview was published it was regarded as being very controversial as Jerry Garcia was a rock legend and he hadn’t been given the respect he deserved. NME’s editor at the time, Neil Spencer claimed the article lost the paper 10,000 readers. This was partly because Paul Morley was trying to inform Garcia about bands like The Fire Engines and Orange Juice and Morley was known as NME’s latest in a long line of enfant terrible writers that had included Nick Kent, Julie Burchill and Ian Penman before him – readers tended to either love or hate his opinions and style of writing. In reality they got on pretty well and I finished off the session snapping the pair of them in the bathroom making peace signs with their hands.