About two minutes ago, my editor informed me that Rock Scully—vocal manager of the Grateful Dead from 1965-1985—died of lung cancer.
My reaction was simply, "F**k!"
An email was forwarded to my editor with the following statement from Scully's brother Dicken:
Rock died peacefully a few hours ago.. After last night, he never regained alertness ... It was amazingly without much suffering and family members could say their farewells last night... I can tell you more later... Please spread the word for me.
It wasn't a secret that Scully had been battling health problems for a long time.
Music promoter/Monterey County Assessor Steve Vagnini had even put together a Jan. 10 benefit for Scully to help offset some of his many medical bills.
I first met Scully in 2007 at a poorly attended 40-year anniversary of the Monterey Pop Festival at the Fairgrounds.
As a longtime Dead fan, I recognized Scully immediately.
My fandom may have come off a little too aggressive at first, but I think he was eventually endeared by my excitement because he ended up agreeing to an extensive interview at his Monterey home.
The story, "Dead Forever: A release featuring The Grateful Dead’s longtime manager invokes an era alive on the walls of his Monterey home," ran in the Weekly in 2008. Here's a snippet:
Rock Scully’s Monterey home is a museum of rarely seen psychedelic artifacts, a rainbow of rock-and-roll rarities that throw anyone entering the room into an entranced state of awe.
There’s a framed original poster from the late ’60s promoting a concert at Sokol Hall in San Francisco held by the Hell’s Angels, featuring Big Brother and the Holding Company and the Merry Pranksters.
Original and limited-edition art by Stanley Mouse, a well-known album cover artist who conceived the Grateful Dead’s “skull and roses” art, appear on almost every wall.
Above a multicolored throw pillow resting on a navy blue couch sits a large painting entitled “Los Alamos.”
The signed print, another Mouse work, features an electrically charged coyote slithering through a desert that was at one time a nuclear testing site.
The living room of Scully’s home feels cavern-like during the afternoon rainfall.
For his part, the former Grateful Dead manager looks weathered by the hard-living lifestyle he led for many years; the smoky rasp of his voice could cut glass.
But his eyes still light up behind wire-framed glasses when he reminisces about one of the most significant musical and cultural occurrences of his generation.
The lyrics of the Grateful Dead's "Stella Blue" seem to resonate deeper during times of sadness: "It all rolls into one/ And nothing comes for free/ There's nothing you can hold/ For very long."