It’s no secret that The Grateful Dead, apart from being the forefathers of psychedelic folk and the cult icons worshipped by ‘Deadheads’ for their explosive live shows, were also massive stoners. Everywhere the band took their mind-expanding live show a trail of roaches could be found scattered among the debauched debris. But one night with Woody Harrelson may rank as their finest weed story.
As well as always exploring their capacity on stage, because of their penchant for drugs offstage, they became the poster boys of the LSD generation that erupted in California during the 1960s—for many people they were the overlooked icons of the counter-culture movement. They were the real heroes that refused to conform and never gave the establishment an inch.
It’s enough to believe then that the group have certainly had their timeless escapades. One night, Jerry Garcia even ate a piece of birthday cake that included 800s doses of acid in the icing (things got a little strange). Even with that in mind, there was one place you wouldn’t have expected them to smoke some weed—in former Vice-President Al Gore’s house, along with Woody Harrelson.
In the early ’90s, before The Grateful Dead disbanded following the death of co-founder Jerry Garcia in 1995, the band visited Al and Tipper Gore—a political power couple still in the ascendancy of power. While environmentalist and serving Vice-President between 1993 – 2001, Al Gore was indeed a fan of the band, it was his wife who could be given the moniker of ‘Deadhead’.
The band were welcomed in the Gore’s house and were then joined by Hollywood’s own Woody Harrelson, who himself is a widely known marijuana-smoker, to complete a heady mix of people unlikely to meet up and have a chat in your local pub. But that is what was happening at the home of the then-current Vice-President of the United States of America.
After the initial niceties, the political couple then excused themselves to get ready for an event. Now, this may be us adding some colour to the story, but we like to think that Woody then shot a look to the band like one does when your parents leave the room and you’ve got mischief on your mind. And, while the pair were in the shower, Woody and Jerry snuck off for a quick joint.
According to former Grateful Dead road manager Cameron Sears, it was a fairly innocuous experience: “Al and Tipper [Gore’s wife, a big Dead fan] were upstairs taking a shower while [the band and entourage] were down there hanging out in their house. Woody Harrelson had come with us, and he and Jerry had gone into the powder room and enjoyed a puff or two.”
He added: “There’s a Secret Service guy standing outside the door. They open the door and it’s like a Cheech and Chong movie!” Though Sears plays down the event, the idea that Woody Harrelson and Jerry Garcia arrive back to the lounge or dining room, stinking of good weed, with red eyes and smiles on their faces while being watched by the Secret Service has us wildly smiling.
Watch below as years later the Hollywood star joined The Grateful Dead for a cover of Elvis’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel’