GRATEFUL DEAD BUST THEIR DAD
SAN FRANCISCO - The Grateful Dead have found and busted Lenny Hart, their elusive former manager and the father of ex-drummer Mickey Hart. He was in San Diego, the Dead said - baptizing Jesus freaks under the name and title with which he had first approached the band two years ago: The Reverend Lenny B. Hart.
A warrant had been out, and a suit filed, for Hart since he split in spring last year. The charge, said Dead accountant David Parker, was embezzlement. Hart was found by private detectives two weeks ago, according to Rock Scully, and spent a weekend in jail. Bail was set at $38,500; Hart reportedly bailed himself out.
Various members of the Dead organization tried to piece the father-and-band association together. "He had come to us as a man of God," said Scully, who left the Dead while Lenny Hart was there. "He said, 'You've been fucked around. Now, I don't ask you to believe in Jesus, but believe in me. Fill the vessel!' You know, 'The content's beautiful but we've got to hold it!' He really cleaned the hell out of all of us."
Parker joined the band's office around the time of Hart's departure, in March, 1970. "It became obvious to everyone - something was strange," he said. "He wouldn't hand over the checkbook or let us look at the books. There were several confrontations with a number of people; we were going to file suit.
"Then he got a lawyer and said he'd pay the money back. $70,000 was the amount we put down for suit; that was the amount clearly beyond a doubt that had been dealt with in a suspicious way. It may have been double that, we didn't know. He promised to pay, put down $10,000, and split. He cleaned out all the bank accounts, and the band didn't even have any money to go on the road with."
"When he ran off on us," said Scully, "he'd just gone to L.A. with Garcia to negotiate for music in Zabriskie Point. Well, he just took the check and split. We found out he had 11 accounts spread out through California. He'd open up 'new companies' and put the money there." The band, he said, thought Hart was putting aside money to pay taxes. "You know how you save to avoid getting hit at the end of the year? Well, we got hit."
Manager John McIntire shook his head. "So much of it's so cut and dry it's amazing how stupid we were," he said. "It was a classic trip: Elmer Gantry coming in. We deserved it. But you wouldn't think he'd fuck his own kid."
Mickey Hart left the band shortly after his father had split. "Mickey's still reacting to it," said Scully. "I mean, he was burned by his father."
(from Rolling Stone, September 2 1971)