As is by now cliche, the Grateful Dead’s career can be sorted into chapters: Baby Dead, Single Drummer, Double Drummer, Brent, Vince, John Mayer; even the noobiest of noobs knows this. These chapters can be further broken down: Baby Dead can, like the years that followed–be sliced into Single/Double Drummer, and then Vince be split into Bruce/No Bruce, but the Brent Years can be shaved the finest. There’s Pre and Post Coma, obviously, but there was also a magical and mostly forgotten period towards the beginning of Brent’s tenure: That Time Phil Was Fatter Than Garcia.
We can eyeball it to Fall of ’80, but exact dates for TTPWFTG are unknown as of now.
It couldn’t have lasted more than one tour. This shot’s from 9/6/80 in Lewiston, Maine, which for some reason I thought was the Dead’s only trip up to Massachusetts’ vestigial tail, but they went there a lot. As you can see, Phil had been indulging in Maine’s signature dish, which is a deep-fried plaid hat slathered in mayonnaise. (Phil also broke into Stephen King’s house after the show, as he did at least once during each of the Dead’s visits to the state.)
Speaking of plaid:
We see that in October of the same year, Phil is still a huffalump.
By March of ’81, however, the Lord has reasserted His hand on the wheel, and normalcy reigns once more over the lot, as Phil and Garcia retake their appropriate positions on the Axis of Dead Chubbiness.
Lo, do you hear the winds a-winding? Feel the earth ‘neath your feet, or knees, or whatever you’ve got pressed up against the earth? Are you reeling in the years? Will you one day dandle your tyke ‘pon your knee and teach the old stories, the cruel stories, the lost jewels of birthright? Will you tell your child about That Time Phil Was Fatter Than Garcia? Will you do that for me?
Do something useful with your life.