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Andrew Bernstein lived out the dreams of every male boomer in the 1960s and ’70s. His musical journey began in 1962 when he was the 14-year-old student of an unknown banjo teacher named Jerry Garcia—and ended in 1980 on a Warner Bros. back lot at the premier party for Willie Nelson’s first movie, Honeysuckle Rose.

The bumpy road from California to Texas became Bernstein’s gilded highway. His initial foray into the music business began in 1969, when he was a creative partner in Crimson Madness, a posse of wild geniuses who were handpicked to produce light shows at Fillmore West by the legendary Bill Graham. Bernstein and his fellow artists brought the walls alive, making them pulse with colors, both real and imagined, for the likes of B. B. King, Iron Butterfly, the original Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead, and scores of others.

Starting in 1971, as the owner of the historic honky-tonk Palo Alto nightclub Homer’s Warehouse, Bernstein laid the groundwork to help launch new talent (including Asleep at the Wheel, Pablo Cruise, and Norton Buffalo) and also gave Jerry Garcia the perfect venue to showcase his non–Grateful Dead bands: Old and in the Way and Merl and Jerry. Bernstein brings those days and nights alive with vivid imagery, colorful dialogue, and a desert dry humor.