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Deadhead Takes a Unusual, Very Lengthy Journey to Resolve a Jerry Garcia Thriller

SAN RAFAEL, Calif.—

Joe Jupille

was burning with anticipation.

It was early December. He was driving over San Francisco Bay, chasing a thriller. He had been chasing it for twenty years, since his youngsters have been small and life’s huge questions appeared like they’d have straightforward solutions.

Now Mr. Jupille was middle-aged, and he was heading to a rubbish dump in Marin County with excessive hopes and $1,500. It was his third journey there. It had a whiff of desperation. Additionally of trash.

Jerry Garcia

It was well worth the unhealthy scent. Mr. Jupille believed that throughout the bridge, laborious by the dump, a supply would reply the query that burned inside him and drove a quest even his household had failed to know: Who have been the backup singers with the Jerry Garcia Band in October and November of 1982?

“These women are very obscure, man,” he stated.

From the Institute for

Jerry Garcia

Research, which he based with 4 associates, Mr. Jupille pursues—in Mr. Garcia’s phrases—the mysteries darkish and huge within the guitarist’s four-decade profession outdoors the Grateful Dead.

There’s loads to discover. The late guitarist-singer-songwriter performed in jug bands, bluegrass bands, rock bands and a jazz-rock fusion outfit.

The core members of the Jerry Garcia Band, Mr. Garcia and bassist

John Kahn,

led a shifting onstage lineup of singers, drummers, keyboardists and the occasional flutist. They often toured for weeks or staged one-night stands between Useless reveals. Their units included reggae, Motown, Garcia compositions and many

Bob Dylan,

all reworked in Mr. Garcia’s unfastened, improvisational fashion.

“There’d be like a 22-minute tune,” recalled Melvin Seals, a gospel organist who performed within the band from 1981 to 1995.

Mr. Jupille needs to impose order on that chaos via analysis he compiles on the Garcia institute’s jerrybase.com and on his weblog, Jerry Garcia’s Center Finger. Whereas Grateful Dead lovers are famously fanatical, Mr. Jupille, a longtime Deadhead, is of a cohort whose dedication transcends fandom.

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Joe Jupille on the transport container close to the Marin County dump.



Photograph:

Justin Scheck/The Wall Road Journal

He describes a spectrum. At one finish are individuals with a Grateful Useless compilation album. On the different are these with deeper inquiries:

The place was Mr. Garcia’s first gig of Could 1962?

“Flatbed truck, Monterey, Calif.,” jerrybase reveals.

Did a beardless Garcia play a Bob Dylan tune on a Tuesday?

In February, 1966, “It’s All Over Now, Child Blue” at Bear’s Home in Los Angeles.

Mr. Jupille attracts from his job as a political-science professor on the College of Colorado and experience in cliometrics—utilizing financial and mathematical concept to quantify historic research. His works embrace “Procedural Politics: Points, Affect, and Institutional Alternative within the European Union.”

Simply as Mr. Jupille documented the EU’s evolution, he traces Mr. Garcia’s transformation from psychedelic pioneer to enterprise and cultural establishment, analyzing enterprise information, tune choice and bandmates.

His path started quickly after the Sept. 11 assaults, when Mr. Jupille, now 51 years previous, heard a 1975 recording from a tiny membership in Berkeley, Calif. Mr. Garcia’s band performed set-list regulars and, weirdly, “Day by Day” from Godspell.

“Jerry was an enormous rock star, and right here he was on an off-night in Berkeley taking part in Godspell,” Mr. Jupille stated, “and it simply hit me: What was he after?”

It was a query the professor additionally requested of himself. He understands his purpose of creating an encyclopedic account of Mr. Garcia’s work via a quote from Umberto Eco: “We like lists as a result of we don’t wish to die.”

Mr. Jupille bumped into hassle with spotty record-keeping from the early Eighties, when Mr. Garcia’s drug abuse had deepened.

He turned to Mr. Seals, the organist, for assist unmasking the ladies who sang backup in late 1982. Prior Garcia sources stated Mr. Seals changed a pair of well-known backup singers that 12 months. The identities of the 1983 backup singers have been effectively established. However no one, together with Mr. Seals, remembered who sang in between.

Mr. Jupille pursued Garcia associates throughout household visits to his mother and father close to San Francisco. His kids began drawing photos of Mr. Garcia. His spouse resented him.

“I get it,” Mr. Jupille stated, trying again. “She has a proper to not be caught with 4 youngsters and her mother-in-law whereas I’m going to speak to some hippies.”

In 2005, a Garcia affiliate advised him of a Marin storage unit stuffed with Garcia recordsdata. The supply, Mr. Jupille stated, was “so skittish that it is extremely very like a peaceful sea, and one little ripple, man…” The supply clammed up.

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Jerry Garcia, far proper, and keyboard participant Melvin Seals, far left, performing within the Jerry Garcia Band on the Harmony Pavilion in Harmony, Calif., on Sept. 7, 1981.



Photograph:

Don Aters/Icon and Picture/Getty Photos

By then, Mr. Jupille stated, “the one huge structural piece” lacking from his work figuring out Mr. Garcia’s band members have been the names of the 2 singers on the legendary guitarist’s less-than-legendary fall 1982 tour.

So when Mr. Jupille known as former Garcia roadie and tour supervisor “Large”

Steve Parish

for assist in 2010, he felt he may say “I’m the world’s best knowledgeable on the Jerry Garcia Band.”

“I’m the f—king man that is aware of extra about Jerry than anyone on the planet,” Mr. Parish advised Mr. Jupille. He stated he knew the singers’ names however wouldn’t share as a result of Mr. Jupille’s search was “the stupidest” factor he had ever heard.

In 2011, Mr. Jupille acquired a break. The spooked supply agreed to satisfy in Marin. The individual confirmed up at a storage unit with 40 keys. None labored.

A 12 months later, the supply resurfaced. A transport container by the Marin dump was stuffed with Garcia recordsdata. Inside was a locked file cupboard. Mr. Jupille yanked it open and located paperwork spanning the Nineteen Seventies to the Nineteen Nineties. He photographed as many as he may however didn’t discover the 2 names.

Over the subsequent 9 years, Mr. Jupille saved making an attempt to get full entry to the recordsdata. He acquired divorced.

Final summer season, the supply stated Mr. Jupille may have the paperwork for $3,000, to assist cowl many years of storage charges. Mr. Jupille introduced them dwelling and located that information from the Eighties have been lacking.

In November, as Mr. Seals recounted his time with Mr. Garcia to The Wall Road Journal, the organist remembered one thing: He had turned to a high-school good friend,

Elisecia Wright,

to sing backup in late 1982, he was fairly positive.

Reached in Georgia, Ms. Wright stated she toured with Mr. Garcia in late 1982 and later with Mr. Dylan. She recalled Mr. Garcia’s amplifiers have been too loud. “Rockers are so stoned they wouldn’t flip them down,” she stated.

Mr. Jupille advised the Journal he had by no means heard of Ms. Wright.

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Joe Jupille spent years making an attempt to get entry to paperwork concerning the Jerry Garcia Band saved in a transport container close to the Marin County dump.



Photograph:

Justin Scheck/The Wall Road Journal

Later that month, his Marin supply advised him two extra bins had proven up. The worth: $1,500.

Mr. Jupille flew to San Francisco and arrived on the dump on Dec. 7, carrying a yellow Institute for Jerry Garcia Research T-shirt. The deal lastly went down; he had Eighties paperwork.

He opened them in his rental automotive. Inside have been live performance contracts, a misspelled “Terry Garcia” receipt, a thank-you observe from

David Letterman

and a journey memo mentioning “stash necessities.”

In recordsdata from late 1982, a receipt from a Philadelphia Marriott listed Mr. Garcia, different musicians and Mr. Parish. Mr. Jupille turned the brittle web page and gasped.

“There they’re,” he stated, singers Elisecia Wright and

Shirley Faulkner

(although Ms. Faulkner’s identify was misspelled on the receipt).

Ms. Faulkner couldn’t be reached for remark.

Write to Justin Scheck at justin.scheck@wsj.com

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