Jun 24, 2021

March 1981: Mickey Hart Interview


CL: Tell us something of your background up until you joined the Dead.

MH: My mother and father were both rudimental drummers and they were involved in the drum corps scene on the East Coast in the 30's and 40's.
My mother taught me how to play the drums - the rudiments. I went through High School on Long Island and played in the school band, and I started to play rock and roll at the weekends in small clubs. The first combo I had, I thought it was a rock and roll combo, I was playing drums and we had an accordion and a valve trombone! That was the trio. Then we got into guitars but we still didn't know what we were doing.
Then I went into the Air Force because they have the best rudimental drummers in the world. I figured that was the only way to get next to drummers of that calibre. Spent a lot of time playing - clubs at night and in marching bands during the day.
Afterwards when I came out I started a drum store on the Peninsula, Jerry was teaching guitar out there - and everybody was hanging out in Palo Alto. I was hanging out with this guy called Sonny Payne who was the drummer with the Count Basie Band. I admired that big band style and once in a while I got a chance to sit in with them in rehearsals and things.
I met Kreutzmann one night and we just started drumming on cars and things. It was with Sonny I think, yeah that's right, I'd taken Sonny to see Janis who'd just started at the Matrix. It was her first gig there or something. It was so loud, James Gurley picked up the guitar and raped it. If you're talking about where punk rock came from - there was nothing like James Gurley. He took that guitar, turned round and embraced the amplifier, turned it right up, shook it, did a little dance with it and rapped it on the floor and it was magnificent. It was the best solo I'd ever heard. Sonny got a headache and walked out of my life that night.
Anyway I met Kreutzmann and he told me about the Dead. So I went to hear them, couldn't believe them, sounded great. He asked me to play for the second set. So I brought my drum set, started playing. Yeah, that was probably at the Straight Theater and we really did play Alligator for two hours.
In those days we'd take a lot of psychedelics and play for long periods of time and we'd get into really monstrous jams. Truly monumental, they had a life of their own, never lived again. That night was really inspired I think, it had to be in order for me to play with the band forever. You knew you were one of the Grateful Dead. You couldn't follow that stuff, there was no way you could academically, technically or mathematically keep up with the Grateful Dead. It would be impossible. Especially then, we didn't know as much as we do now, so it had to come from another place, it was magic.

CL: Tell me about Mickey Hart and the Heartbeats. Were there just the 3 nights at the Matrix?

MH: Was that all there was, I have more tapes than that I think. Someone gave me a whole set of those tapes. He took cassettes right off the masters. Jack Cassady played one night and so did Elvin Bishop. The Heartbeats were really the Dead without Pig Pen and Weir. It wasn't a blues band - it was very experimental music. There we were in the Matrix, this tiny coffee shop. We were set up in there looking at the wall which was only 8 or 10 feet away. There were people coming in off the street, they didn't know who it was. They thought it was a coffee shop, we'd come on and we'd kill them. There was virtually no singing, we played for hours. The only rule was that there were no rules.
I was sick one time at the hospital and somebody slipped the whole set of tapes under the door. That whole period was very far out. It was like trying food for the first time.

CL: Like the Carousel?

MH: The Carousel was amazing. It was our own place, the familiarity of it was an asset musically. It was home. Musically speaking it was like a creative laboratory. Doing one-nighters you're exposed to various elements, there's an uncertainty to your existence. It's like me, I don't live a normal life, it takes me four hours to psyche myself to get up there and do what I do and 3 or 4 at the other end coming down.
Anyway at the Carousel we were in a really important developmental stage musically and technically. We were children in an adult world, and like children we were doing really desperate things and it paid great dividends.
I used to hitch-hike to the Carousel, I didn't have a car, we were making $50 a week, for years! There was a time when we weren't even getting salaries! We were literally hunting for our food. It wasn't hardship, we were all having fun, smoking lots of dope. Me and Bobby and Phil were living not far from 710 Ashbury on Belvedere Street, Kreutzmann lived there for a time too. It got too small at 710. I lived in this closet, had a stairway in it. All I had was an Ali Raka record, a bed, and a candle. Some of the best times I ever had were in the closet.
San Francisco's a creative city, I get the chills just thinking about it. I'm alive there. It's like sticking your musical self into this great plug.

CL: I believe you once played bass with Country Joe & The Fish around that time?

MH: Oh that one! Me and Barry [Melton] were hanging out, working on some project or other, and Joe called him up as something had happened with the bass player and I was learning then. I didn't know any chords, didn't know what changes were or anything. Melton took me down to the gig. I brought my Ring Modulator and Olympic fretless bass and plugged in. I thought it was great. It flipped Joe out. He couldn't believe it. I wasn't concerned with the changes so much as the colour and the intensity. But then Joe used to go up there and sleep for 45 minutes. I don't know about Joe, but it was like comatose music. Same fucking songs, same fucking way. He's not what I call inspiration, musically speaking, let's put it that way - I know he didn't like my bass playing, I sort of like him for it. Over the years I'd say, 'If you need a bass player - call me up', and he goes into a frenzy.
God - that was a long time ago. Barry loved it, but Dorothy Moscowitz came up to me and said, 'Mickey Hart, you know you're random!' and I said 'Yes, I know, thank you. That's the nicest thing you could have said to me,' and she went to pieces and walked away. There is a certain randomness to me and there is that to music.
I never lacked balls especially when it comes to exploring new music. Just before we came over I played this gig with the Rhythm Devils. [Feb 13-14, 1981] Me and Kreutzmann, Airto and Lesh and Flora Purim. We performed at the Marin Veterans Auditorium, recorded direct to disc, sounded great - and that was new music. That was my 1981 version of new music, I let Lesh play bass on that one, but the percussion was all the percussion I'd assembled over the years. Anyway, new music, that's what I'm into, that's what I'm after.

CL: How did the New Riders come about?

MH: Jerry wanted to learn the Pedal Steel. We had Marmaduke, Bob Matthews, and Dave Nelson, and we set up in my barn. I wanted to learn about country and western music, so we set up a workshop.
Being in the Dead was like wearing a spacesuit and being in the New Riders was like wearing a pair of jeans. I couldn't go back and forth in one evening. It was the New Riders, then the Acoustic Dead and the Dead. I loved it, but do you know how many hours a night that was? Dryden had left the Airplane. (I venture that I'd heard he couldn't keep up with their long sets.) Yeah. He didn't really work at being a drummer. I have to keep myself in shape, I did even then. Dryden never did. [line missing] All good drummers but they never thought of their art as physical. They just saw it as practicing the drums. I have to run 8 or 10 miles a day or I go nuts.
Actually, talking of Dave Getz, he is one of the few drummers that really knocked me flat out. He was at Winterland, Janis and Big Brother. Jerry and I were sitting at the top. In those days we could just go out and dig it, unheard of now. All of a sudden, it's the last number of the set and he plays this monstrous drum solo. On the last note he hits the floor tom tom and as he did so he just got up in the same movement and walked off. I was a Dave Getz fan from that day on. Spencer Dryden did it for me at the Fillmore once.
Ginger Baker did it once at the Winterland with Cream, we'd just finished mixing Aoxomoxoa or one of those, and we walked in just as he was getting into his solo. It was amazing, I turned to Jerry and said, 'They have to be the best band in the world' and he said 'Tonight they are the best band in the world.' They were that night.
We invited them to play with us. We played in Sacramento [3/11/68] and Kreutzmann and I get really up for it. We got there and we played and we were the best band in the world that night, no one could play like that. Ginger got crazy and they went out there and I really felt for them because they blew out every speaker on the first note. They were trying to reach our intensity. We were sitting in the front row and we thought about it and so we got our equipment guys, Ramrod and Heard to roll all our equipment out. They played through it and it was so clear it scared the shit out of Clapton, they were used to feeding back through all their Marshalls.
But Ginger was great, there aren't many drummers that can do that to me. Of course Ali [Rakha] does it to me, a lot more. They only did it to me once in their lives. They have to be really inspired. I went to see Billy Cobham last night, mediocre. A great drummer and he's a friend of mine but mediocre. I'd say that if he was here.
He played with us at Radio City (New York, last November) [10/30/80] and afterwards he said to me 'I had no idea. Do you know where this is?' and then he said, 'I guess you do, you're doing this all the time'. He answered his own question, I didn't have a chance to reply. He got turned on to the place that I've taken percussion, what I consider percussion to be. I mean you can't stay in Buddy Rich land forever, that's nowhere.

CL: Why did you leave the Dead?

MH: There was something in my mind that I wanted to do. Also I didn't like touring and the Road was getting a little much for me. I'm into the outdoors. There were minor inner squabbles but mainly it was my own quest to find out what I sounded like personally, instead of just in the Grateful Dead. At that time I built a studio at my house with Dan Healey and learnt about electronics. I didn't just drop out, I went straight into working on Rolling Thunder. I hadn't been able to work on it on the road, it took so much thought. But one good thing about the Dead is that you either are the Grateful Dead or you're not the Grateful Dead, so when I came back I was just back. There was no asking. It was just a matter of 'now it's time, I've finished what I had to do - now I'm ready to play'. I just brought my drums down one night and played and that was it - that's pretty much the way it went.

CL: I've seen it suggested that part of the reason you left was that the Dead's music was getting less complex and your role as ace percussionist was becoming less essential?

MH: That was part of it certainly, but the biggest part was wanting to find out what I sounded like. If I had wanted to be there, I would have been there. I would have made a situation, played percussion, done something to make it musically feasible for me to stay. My leaving was definitely a positive thing, I was just after something else. I knew they wouldn't forget me. I knew that some way, when the time was right it would all come together again. It's a great example of their flexibility that it could happen like that.

CL: Tell us some more about the Barn.

MH: Over the years since it was built up it has become my college. I do things in there that most people wouldn't do, for many reasons. It's my laboratory; it's where I discover stuff that I want to use. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don't. It's also available to some of my friends, like Barry Melton, his is about the most mainstream music that we've recorded there. Most of my work is electronic or high level percussion. I reproduce it my own way and I learn about stuff, you can study all that forever.
The Barn became an Oasis for a large number of people. Now I also go out and record remote - which I call MERT. I don't charge for that because if I make a mistake, ok well it's an experiment, but I do it pretty well and mistakes are rare. All I ask them for is a copy of the tape. I want to be able to get to my locker in the middle of the night and be able to pick out a vintage Ali Akbar Khan from 72 that I've recorded, it's like my wine cellar. I study the world's music, I've been to the Arctic Circle, Cairo, Tokyo, wherever and bring it back. That's my joy. Having the Barn has enabled me to become an engineer.
We recorded just so much stuff there, including my second and third solo albums which have never been released. Fire on the Mountain (the 2nd one) wasn't released because Warners wanted me to go out and tour and I wouldn't. They were looking for a pop oriented thing. There's another example of 'new music' - it may sound great now but back then, can you imagine. When I played it at Warners they all walked out - Joe Smith walked out. I'll never forget it. I realized I had succeeded, I thought 'Wow I must be onto something'. The third record really flipped them out. I'm into new music at almost any cost - as a desperate man should. That's my future.

CL: What about Diga? I believe it's possible to trace their origins back to a Dead gig at the Greek Theater in Berkeley in 68.

MH: That's right. It was Vince Delgado on Dumbeck, Shakhar Ghosht, me and Kreutzmann. It was in the middle of Alligator, we rolled the amps apart, brought the risers forward and played, for a very long time. [9/20/68]
Anyway I went on to study with Shankar Ghosht, I studied tabla and I taught him traps. Also I was working with Ali Raka, we stayed together for days around the time we were recording Aoxomoxoa. I went back and studied at his school and he introduced me to his son, Zakir Hussein - Zakir had a bunch of tabla students, there was also a conga player, a vibe player, and a marimba player, and we all got together and worked out those incredible ornate compositions, for over a year or so. We put it together in the back room.
Anyway one day Grace Slick called me up. Oh right. Grace and I were working on Kung Fu movie scores. I played her a tape of the new percussion band and she loved it. She said 'we're playing at Winterland, would you like to open for us'. [May 16-17, 1975] So I took all these kids down there and it was great, Ali [Rakha] was in the audience. He loved it. Owsley was doing the PA. Then we played in the park. [5/30/75] But there were 14 people and it was too cumbersome to keep it together or take it on the road. So that was Diga.

CL: The Rhythm Devils?

MH: Rhythm Devils are the bastard son of Diga. In the second set we take our solo. When Coppola came and asked me to do the score, I put together Airto, because he's the jungle man and Flora and we did that record. I wanted to take it out live to play new music with old instruments. We had all my things plus Airto's 'sound sculptures', these large metal sculptures that you play. He's a magician. He plays traps really well now and his percussion is superb. Where else do you find out about these jungle things. You have to go to the real thing: Airto. Kreutzmann has become addicted to talking drums. Mike Hinton is a former student of mine when I had the drum store in Palo Alto, he's played with Sinatra and Liza Minnelli, all those Broadway shows. He's a doctor of percussion from Julliard - not too shabby. Phil Lesh on 'unusual' bass. A very unusual ensemble.

(by John Platt, from Comstock Lode magazine #9, 1981)

Here are some excerpts from the interview Mickey did with Swing 51 during the same visit to London, March 1981, printed some years later.

From the editor's introduction:
This interview dwells on fairly esoteric subject matter as far as standard Grateful Dead interviews go. This was deliberate as the interview was originally going to appear in the now defunct Dark Star magazine and the focus was on some of Hart's less mainstream activities. Dark Star's Grateful Dead special issue never appeared which was a shame because for its time it would have been out of the ordinary. Nowadays - with the standards set by that excellent Californian magazine Golden Road - people would probably not even bat an eyelid...
The primary focus to the interview was on Hart's many side-projects and the wealth of material that has never seen any commercial release. This subject matter not only included Hart's 1972 solo album Rolling Thunder and its unreleased follow-ups such as Fire On The Mountain and The Silent Flute, but also work with some of the transitory spin-off bands. It also delved into Hart's own original forays into ethnic or world music...

[The questions weren't printed in this interview.]

I was hanging out with Sonny Payne, who was the drummer with Count Basie. I played jazz. I played with Gerry Mulligan a little bit; I played some gigs with him in Europe. I was into big band. I read. I read music - I say that past tense but I probably still do. I haven't read in a long time. I was schooled in concert band, in dance band, in jazz band, in rudimental drumming. That's where I came from, from the rudimental side. Then I learned the dance drums, the trap set, because I had to make money after-hours to put myself through anything I wanted to be put through - school or whatever. And that's how I made my way when I was younger - by playing 'casuals', we call them, affairs, lame little functions with odd bands. Live musicians playing odd music for odd people! But it was a living and I was young and it was the only way you could do it. There was no rock'n'roll then, or rock'n'roll was just starting.

I had this fascination with Indian music because it was so rhythmically articulate and so developed; it was muscular rhythmically speaking. Mostly in the West it's harmony and melody, which is not very familiar in Indian music. Which is melody. But it was rhythmically so developed that I was naturally attracted to it. My teacher was Alla Rakha, Ravi Shankar's drummer, who I sought out years before. I studied at the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music, so I guess that was the beginnings of Diga when I studied classical Indian music. I studied time, tabla, and just your way of going about Indian music, and because it was so sophisticated rhythmically I could wallow in it. Then it worked its way into my style and my thought and I started composing with the added attraction of having all that experience in Indian music.

The beginning of Diga was actually in '68 when Vince Delgado, who was part of the Ali Akbar Khan College of Music, and Shankar Ghosh, the tabla player, sat in with us - me and Kreutzmann - on 'Alligator' at the Berkeley Community Theater and we played for about an hour.
Then I met Zakir Hussain. Alla Rakha introduced me to his son, Zakir, who played with Mahavishnu and Shakti and all those things. A master musician. He's one of the few really talented percussionists in the world. He got all his tabla students together. We got a conga player, a marimba player, a vibe player, and we practiced for a year or so in the back rooms. We learned all these compositions which were very heady and we composed. I put them in The Barn for three months and recorded it. That's where Diga came from. It certainly came from the rhythmic density that I learned from Alla Rakha. [ . . .]

[On leaving the Dead]
We never really split up. I was building my studio and making my records, learning what I sounded like, developing Diga. It didn't seem like taking a backseat. I was quite active, more active than the Grateful Dead. But I didn't go on the road and that's what made a difference.
[Rolling Thunder] was a year of my life. That's what my life sounded like for one year. I really wanted that record to represent somebody's life - mine particularly. It's a true representation because that's where I lived. The rain on the roof - it was the rainy season. I still have 16 tracks of rain! I have boxes of the most beautifully recorded rain in the world.... And there was music and that was the kind of music I was into. I was writing the soundtrack to 'Mickey Hart' that year.
The Shoshone invocation at the beginning of Rolling Thunder is by a medicine man, a Shoshone, a friend and a doctor, the Grateful Dead's doctor. He performs ceremonies and picks his herbs there. He was a certain spiritual inspiration to me and he had a spirit which, I think, embodied the spirit of Rolling Thunder - the studio as well. The invocation is a little prayer thanking the Great Spirit for the music. [ . . . ]

Here's what happened to Fire On The Mountain: it's in a locker somewhere and Warners has it. They signed me up for a few albums and Rolling Thunder was one of them. That was very well received and it was a fine album. Then I went with a second one called Fire On The Mountain which a magnificent version of 'Fire On The Mountain' appears on. I bring it down to Joe Smith and those people at Warner Brothers and they canned it. They wanted 'rock 'em, sock 'em', something to take on the road. I don't think they knew what they had. I don't think they understood it, that fire was in there. They could have been selling fish. They actually walked out on me while I was playing it for them.
A lot of it is me and Jerry at the Palace of Fine Arts. [11/28/73] We got on the stage with our synthesisers and drums and just met and played for four hours. I put some of those tapes on Fire On The Mountain, and there was some stuff that I did with Melton.... All kinds of great, adventurous songs. And also space. Great music, I thought. [ . . . ]
Anyway, I thought those guys [at Warner Brothers] really can't see, so I went into the studio and made the third one - which was not released either - called The Silent Flute.
You haven't heard of that one! That's obscure and that's my best work. A very strong piece of work in a locker someplace in Warner Brothers... I did it all in two weeks and it never saw the light of day. I've never talked about it. [ . . . ]

We live in 415 area code and all my friends like Jim McPherson, John Cippolina, Barry Melton, and David Freiberg were from that area. We got together and played things like 'Ghost Riders In The Sky' and Jim McPherson's songs. Jim McPherson is a great musician and songwriter; he played in Copperhead with Batwang. Cippolina's Batwang....all his guitars've got batwings on them. [ . . . ]
So, we put together this loose, fragmented group of musicians and that's why we called it 415. We never released the material. We just stuck it in the locker. That seems like my life story. Our output is so much greater than our releases. We're pretty prolific.
Most of the big companies aren't really interested in these recordings and I'm not into hawking them. But a lot of them are really worthy. It's just laying there, man. I don't know what's going to happen to it. We play it all the time.... Jerry plays a magnificent solo on 'Fire On The Mountain'. I think the rights might have come back to me [for] Fire On The Mountain. We only leased our records to Warners. After five or seven years those things come back to us. I think I may own it. When did I do it? 1972, and I did Flute right after. It's in limbo.
Maybe Fire On The Mountain will be released some day, if somebody cared to do it, but doing battle with a record company or hassling with a record company is my least favourite occupation, because I'm not very compatible with record companies. We don't see eye to eye on many things. I haven't found one I can even sit down and talk with. Oh, we'll sit down but so far I haven't been able to find a good business relationship with any record company. I wish I could say with Arista it wasn't like that, but it is. When you're a record company all I really need is great distribution... [line missing] the work or its artistic control. Or even any comment on any of the music - it's none of their business. So there are some rules to the way I look at my music, and that's probably why some of it hasn't been released. For example, the advertising has to be sensible. I won't go for pigeons being released or some lame bullshit rap. They wanted to do that with Fire On The Mountain. The Warners guy came up with an idea, saying, 'Let's use doves or something. Release a thousand doves.' I said, 'Pssst. Out! Forget it! Good-bye. You've got the wrong boy." [ . . . ]

A couple of weeks ago [Feb 13-14, 1981] we performed the Rhythm Devils live at Marin Veterans' Auditorium. We went direct-to-disc. It's the first live recording direct-to-disc in concert. It was a milestone album and the tapes sound beautiful. We're talking about deep space, deeeep space. You can see into that record for twenty miles.
It was Airto, Flora Purim, Phil, me and Kreutzmann, and Michael Hinton from Julliard, a doctor of mallets. We rehearsed and we all lived in The Barn for a week, then we went and played. Owsley did the P.A. Crystal Clear are the people on the lathe and I think they'll be releasing that. They have their own distribution. It'll be a limited edition. The Bear also has Nagra tapes, of course. 
We did another Crystal Clear recording with Zakir Hussain and Alla Rakha - the three of us. A live concert. We're building up a library of Crystal Clear recordings. They are exquisite. They sound so good and we're getting better at it.
[ . . . ]

(by Ken Hunt, from Swing 51 magazine #13)
[Other sections in this interview discuss recording world music, writing songs with Barry Melton on acid, writing 'Ariel' with Hunter, rare recordings with Melton, Hunter & Cippolina, and wearing the white Go To Heaven suit.]
Some links: 
https://archive.org/details/gd73-11-28.sbd-seastones.finney.968.sbefail.shnf (11/28/73 Jerry/Mickey/Phil/Ned, various tracks -- also more complete here)  

Mickey is still playing with Zakir Hussain to this day. Here's some recent work: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr85GrjKeBc (Sound Consciousness: Drones for Sonic Bathing)
And here's a bonus anecdote from the interview I couldn't leave out:

The Silent Flute has an interesting story. Here is The Silent Flute story.
OK, I'm into martial arts. Grace Slick is into this kung fu stuff too. We're hanging out watching them making kung fu movies. Bruce Lee had just died and they were making these movies in San Francisco at this big house. I was interested in doing the score. I was interested in doing action movies. This was my first look at how it could be.
Then one day Grace says, 'Come on over. I've got something to show you.' She hands me this screenplay. She puts me in this room and closes the door and says, 'Read it.' I started reading this thing and it was called The Silent Flute. What it was was a screenplay by Sterling Silliphant, James Coburn, and Bruce Lee, and it was written for Bruce Lee's next movie. And they canned it! Bruce died. [July 1973] I was just totally taken by the imagery. It's about a guy in his quest for knowledge and he's put to all these tests and these trials. It was magnificent, so well written. I couldn't believe the first draft. So I just said, 'Thank you, Grace.' I'll never forget.
I went home, locked myself in my studio for 2-1/2 weeks. I never left the studio. I had my food put in underneath the door. I didn't change my clothes for a week-and-a-half or two weeks. Serious composing, man! I'd never done that. I probably never will again. I didn't have the script, I just remembered it. And I wrote the score to The Silent Flute. The movie wasn't even in production yet. Grace loved it. Everybody I played it to thought it was just like the movie should have been. I have the ability to do that. Now I can make music and it sounds like what it looks like.
I gave it to Warner Brothers. Jerry was on it too. It was all space. It was gorgeous. Piano. Low frequencies. It was my best work, the best I ever did.
Five years later - this was a couple of years ago, three years ago - I see in a paper that The Silent Flute is going into production with David Carradine with this Richard St. Johns fellow producing it. Warner Brothers were putting it out! Warner Brothers didn't even know that I had written the score years ago. I went to Richard St. Johns and told him and he said, 'What are your qualifications for it? What is your resume?' I've never done a resume in my life! What can I say? 'No, I've not done a movie.' I don't think he took me seriously.
It was made as The Circle of Iron; it was called that eventually. Totally raped by Carradine in Israel. The Circle of Iron was released a year ago and flopped totally. It was awful. They raped it. But originally it was really well done. That's the story of The Silent Flute. Basically I made this music to the imagery of the movie. Of course, what turned out was nothing like what I had seen. That first draft was beautiful. They turned it into a 29-cent special. Bruce Lee would've turned over in his grave.

1 comment:

  1. Since I recently posted a couple other interviews from the Dead's March '81 trip to England, I thought I'd add Mickey Hart's as well. The Comstock Lode piece is the main one here; the Ken Hunt interview covers some of the same ground so it seemed like a good complement. Platt's interview is straightforward, covering some of the basics of Mickey's history; it's funny that Platt only seems to ask a few questions, but Mickey rambles happily at length in his answers. Hunt focused almost entirely on Mickey's side projects & solo material apart from the Dead, so I only included the selections of interest to me.

    You get a good sense of Mickey from these - enthusiastic and boastful. (There's a lot of bragging here.) His memories of earlier years can sometimes be imprecise, so don't always expect reliable details. For instance, while Janis & Big Brother had often played at the Matrix since '66, they apparently didn't have any shows there in summer '67. Most likely Mickey saw them there in October '67, after he'd joined the Dead. I also have doubts whether the show with Cream in '68 went quite the way he remembers it. And his leaving & rejoining the Dead was not as simple as he tells it (Kreutzmann's account is totally different).
    Some of this is pretty funny, for instance his woeful dealings with record companies, and the time he played bass for Country Joe.
    There's some talk about Mickey's "lost years" away from the Dead - lost in the sense that his work then mostly still hasn't been released (and likely never will be), though some has slipped into circulation. Tracks from Mickey's Silent Flute soundtrack have circulated, but I couldn't find them online.

    He talks about the great recording of the Feb '81 Rhythm Devils shows, to be released by Crystal Clear Records. This label had released a "direct-to-disc" Merl Saunders album in '79. Of course the Rhythm Devils album never came out (an audience tape of 2/14/81 only recently appeared) - however there seems to be some proof that a record was planned. One person on discogs.com writes, "I have come across a Crystal Clear test pressing that judging by the matrix information is CCS 5013 [from 1981]. It's 2 side-long tracks of percussion somewhat akin to a Rhythm Devils type vibe. I can't find any information about it & am pretty curious to know what this is."

    Surprisingly, neither interview brings up Mickey's work on the Apocalypse Now soundtrack (released as "The Rhythm Devils Play River Music" in 1980). He talked about that in other interviews at the time - here's a recent discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3vL8jkuHs8
    Anyway, Phil Lesh was asked about the movie in a 1979 interview with Relix:
    "I worked with Mickey, and Mickey worked with Francis. But when I went to see the movie, there wasn't one thing that I did in the soundtrack. And furthermore, in my opinion, the soundtrack to Apocalypse Now is dogshit. The best thing about it is the sound effects. That's what I liked about it. I have a video tape of it at home, and there's no music, except for the Doors. There are only a few moments where there was anything resembling music. The thing about that was that Francis was in traction in the hospital when the final sound editing was going on. And whoever it was that put it together, you couldn't print what I think about it. Francis wanted jungle music and he got plenty of it. But out of all the stuff that Mickey did, I can only hear two minutes' worth in the movie. But it's a great movie. It's the best movie I've seen since 2001. Even though I think Mickey got burned."