By David Gans

My contributions to this year’s WALL OF NEWS will focus on photos and stories from my new book, Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985. Signed copies are available now from

Bammies press conference, February 1983

Do you remember the story of Bob Weir giving Bill Graham a new name – Uncle Bobo –  for his birthday in January 1978? Here’s fun story to go with that.

I spent the night of February 24, 1983 at Bob’s house so I could deliver him bright and early to the office of the Mayor of San Francisco on the morning of the 25th. It was a press conference to announce “Bay Area Music Day” in honor of the Bay Area Music Awards, to be held a month or so hence. The event was organized by BAM Magazine to benefit the Bay Area Music Archive.

After the press conference and photo session, Bill motioned to Bobby and me and pulled us into a small office. “David, I’d like you to be my witness,” he began. Then he turned to Weir and said, “Any price! Whatever I have to give you – money or whatever – if you’ll take that name off of me!”

It was, of course, a textbook example of toothpaste that is never going back into the tube.

Bill brought it up again when I interviewed him in October of 1984, referring to it as “That is the schmuckiest thing [Weir has] ever done!

“Nobody I know calls me Uncle Bobo. Nobody. And there’s something about driving on the highway and hearing someone call out, ‘HEY UNCLE BOBOOOO!’

“How about a campaign to rename me? I don’t like the name Bill, so I don’t mind changing that, either. Call me Zorro if you want.”

Bobby Weir with then-Mayor Dianne Feinstein, in the San Francisco Mayor’s office.

David Gans is one of the best-known media guys in the Grateful Dead world as well as an exceptional interpreter of GD music; he has performed with Phil Lesh, written songs with Robert Hunter, and played with many of the best-known jam band musicians around. He started as a journalist at BAM, the California Music Magazine, and wrote for many music magazines in the ‘70s and ‘80s. In the mid-’80s he helped with the KFOG Deadhead Hour, which became the nationally-syndicated Grateful Dead Hour, still airing from coast to coast. He’s also co-host, with Gary Lambert, of the Sunday-afternoon talk show Tales from the Golden Road on SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel. He’s the author (with Blair Jackson) of This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, An Oral History of the Grateful Dead, and Improvised Lives: Grateful Dead 1972-1985, a book of his photos and stories. He will perform at Skull and Roses.