San Francisco police may have briefcase filled with unreleased Jerry Garcia songs

30 years ago, Jerry Garcia was arrested in Golden Gate Park for drug possession. Along with “23 packets of brown and white substances” (heroin), Jerry also had a briefcase on him at the time, which was taken as evidence by the San Francisco Police Department.

According to Robert Hunter, Garcia’s friend and frequent collaborator, that briefcase was filled with new music that has never been seen or heard by anyone else, and he would like to get it back, if possible.

Hunter, who penned the lyrics to Grateful Dead classics such as Box of Rain, Ripple, Terrapin Station and many many others, told Rolling Stone “I haven’t gone searching for it, but I happen to know that briefcase had a number of new songs he was working on…It doesn’t seem right.”

In order to get the briefcase back, Hunter would need a case number and permission from Garcia’s estate. That second part doesn’t seem like it should be a problem, as Garcia’s daughter, Trixie, is reportedly interested in retrieving it, now that she is aware of its existence.

The largest obstacle will be finding out whether or not the SFPD still even has the briefcase. According to Officer Grace Gatpandan, “They purge stuff. I don’t know if they still have it… they actually could have it. For some reason they could have kept it.” The confidence is overwhelming.

Of course, Garcia died in 1995, so even if the music were eventually recovered, it’s not like Jerry would be able to finish the songs up and record them. Still, it would be nice if they could be liberated from an evidence room now that we’re 30 years removed from the drug bust on which they don’t really have any bearing.

Someone should probably make a movie loosely based on this. It could be about Jerry, who would obviously be played by Jeff Bridges, and his ongoing quest to get his briefcase back. I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that basically just part of the plot of “The Big Lebowski?” Yes. Yes it is. They should still do it though.

This is not Robert Hunter’s only encounter with unfinished music. He lamented the loss of many other songs that could have been over the years:

I would give [Bob] Weir the only copy of a song, and he’d put it in his back pocket and he would do the wash and there would go that song. And he’d say, “Do you remember any of that song?” and I’d say, “Maybe I can remember a verse or two.” But that’s one good thing about word processors coming along — there are no more lost songs.

Hopefully Bob remembers to show up for the 50th anniversary shows in Chicago this summer.

[SFist | Rolling Stone]