Meet the man who took the Grateful Dead to Egypt
Richard Loren smuggled drugs for Jefferson Airplane, looked after a maced Jim Morrison, and was the Grateful Dead's business manager. His memoir tells all
“We had The Beatles. We had the Stones. We had The Who and the Led Zep. We had The Doors, the Airplane, the Dead and Jimi Hendrix – Hendrix, for God’s sake! We had Janis and Otis and Aretha and Simon & Garfunkel and Cream and Van Morrison – an incredible period of time. And when you’re in it, you start to think ‘this is the way it’s always going to be!’”
Most people’s definition of being “in it” might extend to the buying of a few albums, the wearing of beads, the smoking of dope and the trooping along to some late-Sixties concerts on the West Coast in sun-baked pleasuredomes such as San Francisco – magically described at the time by Jefferson Airplane’s Paul Kantner as “forty-nine square miles surrounded by reality”. But “in it” for Richard Loren meant the deep end.
His charged and amusing memoir High Notes records a few key incidents. He starts out as a booking agent and talent-scout in ‘66 and earns extra respect by carrying one of the Airplane’s bags across the Canadian border (he’d agreed before he’d inspected its weed-stuffed interior). Elektra president Jac Holzman then invites him to get involved in the hands-on management of The Doors: he carts Jim Morrison back to the hotel after a New York show where Jim “stumbled into his room, pissed in the wastepaper basket and fell on top of the bed, snoring loudly”. Andy Warhol takes a physical shine to “the Bad-Boy Baudelaire Of Rock” at a party and presents Jim with a preposterous gift, an ornate antique French plastic telephone with a rotary dial. “It’s just what I always wanted!” trills the good-natured Morrison. It’s Richard’s job to comfort the uncontrollable singer when he’s maced by panicked security guards at a sports arena in New Haven who mistake him for a member of the lively audience. Morrison is blinded for half an hour and, for once, understandably angry.