Last summer, the San Francisco Bay Guardian ran a special issue on the Summer of Love. The centerfold was a photo shoot, taken at the bandshell on the Panhandle. I'm seated in the front row, holding a photo of Nicky Hopkins.
We had an afterparty at our place, which is just a few minutes away from the Panhandle, a nice typical "freeze your ass off, it's July!" outdoor feast in San Francisco. We were just getting ready to head out when my friend Jeannette Sears cruised up to tell me that Merl Saunders wanted to come too, and, well, was that okay?
Well, hell yes. I'd known Merl since about 1972, hadn't seen him since about 1977 - a wonderful keyboard player, he'd done an iteration of the Jerry Garcia Band, the one before Nicky joined.
So Merl and his Deb came along, and I introduced Merl to the concept of the bellini. I also introduced him to my friend Jacqueline's baby daughter Matilda - he was enchanted by both the prosecco and the baby (he'd recently become a great-grandfather).
We lost him today. A life well lived, and I hoist a bellini in his honour. The photo attached was taken at our afterparty last summer, in our garden. I'm damned glad I got to reconnect.
Causes Deborah Grabien Supports
EMILY's List (early member), Amnesty International (member on two continents for thirty years), Animal Welfare causes (we rescue feral cats), NARAL and...