'Dead' wives go head to head over Garcia's will

Love and peace are forgotten as women fight over star's millions, reports Tim Cornwell

IN 1993 Jerry Garcia signed a one-paragraph document typed by his sometime wife, Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams. In it, she contends, the Grateful Dead guitarist, icon of old hippies everywhere, promised to pay her $5m (about pounds 3m) over 20 years if she agreed to a divorce.

Mountain Girl, a legend of hippie culture in her own right, received $400,000 before the payments were cut short by her ex-husband's death in August 1995. A California judge will rule this week whether Garcia, as is claimed, was in such a haze from the constant use of drugs that he was incompetent to sign the impromptu settlement.

The decision, however, promises to be only the first chapter in a long, strange legal trip that began with Garcia's demise. His living arrangements have proved fodder for lawyers, and feuding over hislegacy has fallen to its lowest common denominator, money.

Demands for a slice of Garcia's estate currently exceed $30m, and claimants run from ex-wives, lovers and their children to his personal trainer and his acupuncturist. Just how much Garcia was worth on his death, aged 53, from a heart attack in a drug rehabilitation clinic, has not been disclosed. One estimate in 1990 put his fortune at $6.6m, but after the Dead's release of the 1987 album Touch of Grey, their income soared as never before.

Some $30m worth of concert tickets were sold in the last five years of Garcia's life. The great unknowns are the value of Garcia's holdings in Grateful Dead Productions and Grateful Dead Merchandising, which draw not just royalties from the band's backlist but sell such products as Dead Red wines and Garcia-designed ties.

The case that unfolded in a California court over the new year has at most turns proved monstrously dull, though it was briefly televised on the Court TV cable channel. It has hinged mostly on the validity of Mountain Girl's divorce agreement.

Carolyn Garcia, 50, earned her nickname when she was one of the Merry Pranksters who toured the US in 1964 in a bus painted in psychedelic colours. She is best remembered for hailing sheriff's deputies through a megaphone and inviting them in for coffee, shortly before she was arrested, with author Ken Kesey, in a marijuana bust.

Mountain Girl first began living with Garcia in 1966. They married in 1981, in a Buddhist ceremony in his dressing-room at a concert, and she bore him two children. But for more than 20 years she had a love rival in Deborah Koons Garcia, who in 1993 became the musician's third and last wife, soon after his formal split with Carolyn. Lawyers for Deborah, a 47-year-old film-maker, have accused Carolyn of being a manipulating bully. It appears he had on-off relationships with both women. It was Deborah Garcia who halted Mountain Girl's $20,000 monthly payments - though she herself, it emerged, received $500,000 a year from Garcia in the last two years of his life.

Fighting to prove her marriage was genuine and loving, Carolyn read aloud in tears from a letter from her husband on hotel stationery from Chicago: "You tickle me with your sweet talk. I build up a vision of you on the bed and watch you form the words. Your mouth and special secret smiles and the corners of your mouth sweet to touch and kiss and exciting in a tender way. Your incredible eyes that dance and twinkle and flash and flirt and laugh and stun and also warm and soothe and speak of deepest love."

After Judge Dufficy settles Garcia vs Garcia, the process of disentangling the other claims will begin. Garcia's will leaves a third of his assets to his widow, and carves up the other two-thirds between his daughters, Trixie, Annabelle and Heather, and his brother. He left nothing to charity.

The last word may already have gone to Annabelle. Cornered by a Court TV reporter recently, and asked her what her father would have said about having his affairs dragged through the courts, she replied: "That it is all a big joke."

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