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Happy Bday Jerry - From Bill Walton

Kanada Kev

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Letter to Jerry Garcia: Happy Birthday from Bill Walton

(Note: A special guest/feature to the Ghosts from Bill Walton. Well, not really).

Hello down there, it’s Bill Walton ready to usher in this day of utmost importance. And you may be wondering where I am when I reference you as being “down there.†Well, today I am simply floating on air to the hymns of the Grateful Dead. And the special day of which I speak is none other than the “would be†birthday of the great Jerome John Garcia.

I petitioned for my counterparts at ESPN, ESPN.com and even ESPN Classic to allow me to devote a Special segment or program to my good friend Jerry on this of all days. However, the good working suits at ESPN/Walt Disney didn’t see the logic behind my concept, fools. To my utter dismay, not even Sirius Satellite Radio would grant me the access to do such a simulcast. They informed me, I am allotted only “x†amount of time per week and the program would not air until Saturday.

So, I turned to the only folks I knew that would accept my bid to pay a tribute and that was my good friends over at the Ghosts. Allow me to do thee honor and thanks. It’s a gorgeous day in Del Mar and the summer breeze about the air serves as a reminder that the fair winds will blow me safely home.

If will, please take a long strange trip with me and listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock your soul. I’m gathering a handful of the old Maxell XL-II’s from the vault and spinning out some of the fondest memories ever captured on analog. Ah, the splendor and joy of celebrating the one and only, Jerry Garcia.

In basketball, as in the meandering melodies of the music, players change their ways, move to new cities, and things turn over and start a new. Just like the “Franklin’s Tower†from the Winterland on March 19, 1977, the Celtics too are starting a new. You sang, "It can rain turn night to day, rain like fire if you lose your way."

Well, this beloved and storied franchise we know as the Celtics had lost their way. However, the Celtics are no longer confused, as they did "just listen to the music play." And with the help from a special little instrument of change named Kevin Garnett. I hope Garnett brings a little of the magic back that you once brought to Boston, Jerry.

I recall a special memory we shared on your birthday in 1994, Jerry. You and the other cats played the Palace and fans throughout the room lit candles to celebrate your birthday and we all sang you a special happy birthday serenade. I even signed the giant card that went around for you. Unfortunately, that was the last birthday we would share together as you passed away just a year and change later.

Nevertheless, this was a great memory. I sure felt free when you and the boys belted out "Liberty" for a stellar encore. Sadly, that was not the only dynasty that was ending in Detroit. The Pistons were in the midst of a colossal decline. After the reign of the Bad Boys in the late eighties and early nineties, Detroit Pistons saw their heart and soul disappear much like when you passed into the next life. The Worm, Dennis Rodman, made his long strange trip off to another team and another state of reality. All the broken dreams and vanished years left Detroit Fans feeling Stella Blue. Stella Blue.

Oh, how bittersweet it is to here a soothing “Brokedown Palace.†Much like the rendition from New Years Eve 1986; that one just rocks my soul. And the irony of such a sad, but emotional song is what David Stern is dealing with around the NBA these days. This is a song about passing to a better place and let’s hope with this atrocious referee scandal in the rearview, the NBA can leave this state of flux it’s in right now, this “Brokedown Palace.†Fare you well, my good friend.

Yes, for Jerry I must devote an epic “Chinacat>Rider†from Alpine Valley in 1989. And who could forget a classic rendition of “Bertha†from the Capitol Theater in ’71? How could I possibly leave out the “Uncle John’s Band†from 12/26/79? Oh, the treats and a treasure filled landscape much like the NBA’s Western Conference. So many GREAT, very GREAT teams and only one can be the Champion.

Good lord, look at the time…where is it going? “All I know is something like a bird within you sang…all I know you sang a little while and then flew on.†And so, my good friend I am signing off…Happy Birthday Jerry! And thank you to The Ghosts for having me...I hope you all wake up tomorrow to find that YOU are the EYES of the WORLD.

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