Ziggy's brother Rohan embraced American football, starting at linebacker for Luke Campbell's Miami Hurricanes from 1992 to '94 and in 1995 with the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders. He has since become the live-in lover of Lauryn Hill, the hottest star in the music industry, with whom he has fathered two children.
Ziggy also enjoys basketball. After a concert last spring in Chicago he hooked up with Rodman when the cross-dressing forward showed up unannounced outside his tour bus. "Him cool," Marley says. "I didn't like him before I met him, all that dressing up and stuff. But he knocked on the door, and all the Jamaican girls who were with us went crazy, so I let him in. He stayed with us late, mon. I think he had a game the next day. He didn't play too good."
They used to pop tabs of LSD as if they were Altoids and sing lyrics such as, "It left a smoking crater of my mind / I like to blow away." But nothing, not even Day-Glo paint, mesmerized the Grateful Dead the way a 49ers game did. When the Niners rose to prominence in the early '80s, going on to win five Super Bowls in 14 years, the Bay Area-based Dead went along on the long, strange trip, at least in spirit. "We're all pretty much pathological Niners fans," Weir says. "Whenever we'd play a Sunday or Monday-night show that coincided with a big game, it was an issue. Let's just say there were some real long set breaks, and if we couldn't watch the end of the game backstage, our roadies would give us updates after every song."
If any band captured the spontaneous and communal joy of team sports at their highest level, it was the Dead. Their entree into the sports world came through Walton. "We were playing a show in the mid-'70s," Weir recalls, "and this one guy about 20 rows back was standing on his chair, so some people in our crew went out to tell him to sit down. When they realized he wasn't up on his chair—it was just Walton—they gave him a backstage pass so the people behind him could see."
The big man and the big band connected instantly, forging friendships that have lasted a quarter century. Walton accompanied the Dead on its trip to Egypt in 1978—"We climbed the Great Pyramid together," Weir says—and of the hundreds of performances Walton attended, one he remembers with special fondness took place in 1986, when he was finishing his career on a Boston Celtics team that went on to win the NBA tide. The Dead came to town for a series of shows; on the first night Walton brought along teammates Larry Bird and Kevin McHale. "Those guys would drink beers two bottles at a time," Weir says, "and their hands were so big, they could actually walk around with two in each hand. Which was fortunate, because it took at least four beers to get those guys buzzed."
The following afternoon at practice, Bird and McHale gave a glowing review of the show, and Walton arranged to bring the entire team to a performance. "Everyone came except Danny Ainge, because his wife wouldn't let him go," Walton says of the current Phoenix Suns coach. "Just before the lights went up, Jerry Garcia looked over at Bird and gave him a little wink that said, This is what we do. And then he went into an absolutely ripping opener that blew us away."
In recent years Weir has become friendly with 49ers quarterback Steve Young, for whom he has two ambitions: "With all those injuries he's had, I would love to get him doing yoga. And I play in this fairly serious flag-football league in Marin, and it's my goal to get Steve to come to one of our games as a ringer."
As Weir strolls through the darkened woods of Mill Valley, a San Francisco suburb just upstream from paradise, he reflects on his most satisfying sports-related memory. In 1992, after announcing that they planned to move to St. Petersburg, the San Francisco Giants were purchased by local investors and stayed at Candlestick Park. In what once would have been written off as a twisted hallucinogenic fantasy, the Grateful Dead were invited to sing the national anthem for the Giants' '93 home opener.
After a three-hour rehearsal Garcia, Weir and keyboardist Vince Welnick took the field to a warm ovation under sunny April skies. Never known for their vocal prowess, the Dead nailed The Star-Spangled Banner and brought down the house. "It went a whole lot better than I expected," Weir says, "and we were a little taken aback. It was one of those American moments. I had done a lot of environmental lobbying in D.C. during that time, and it was so gratifying to know that certain conservative senators were sitting there cringing while the media held us up as this national treasure."
As Weir nears the front entrance to his home, his voice quivers and his eyes get glassy, and it's clear that he has a more important point to make about that experience. "There was a lot going on that day," he says. "It was Barry Bonds's first game with the Giants, and he went deep."