John Kadlecik Reveals Original Choice For Furthur Drummer

The guitarist also addressed John Mayer’s inclusion in Dead & Company and many other topics.

By Scott Bernstein Oct 20, 2022 7:49 am PDT

Former Dark Star Orchestra and Furthur guitarist John Kadlecik spoke with Rolling Stone’s Andy Greene for an interview published yesterday as part of the King for a Day series. Kadlecik told Greene that drummer John Molo was originally slated to be behind the kit for Furthur, a band put together by Grateful Dead bandmates Phil Lesh and Bob Weir in 2009.

“It was actually Jerry’s birthday when we did the first jam,” Kadlecik said of the first Furthur session held at SIR Studios on August 1, 2009. “It was originally supposed to be John Molo on drums. I guess he backed out. Then there was this question of, ‘Who is going to be the drummer?’ Then I heard it was going to be Joe Russo. I had a Benevento/Russo Duo record in my CD collection already, but I didn’t know him.”

The first Furthur iteration of Weir, Lesh, Kadlecik, Russo, drummer Jay Lane and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti debuted publicly on September 18, 2009 with the first of three consecutive shows at Oakland’s Fox Theatre. Lane left the band in March of 2010 to rejoin Primus with Sunshine Becker and Jeff Pehrson added as backing vocalists to cement a lineup that continued through the final Furthur shows at their Paradise Waits January 2014 destination event in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

John Kadlecik talked extensively with Greene about his early musical influences, the formation of Dark Star Orchestra, how Furthur initially came together, his decision to leave DSO, the many Grateful Dead and Phish concerts he witnessed and more. Other topics hit upon were the first time he performed with Bob Weir, how Furthur decided on setlists, the evening Clarence Clemons sat-in with Furthur and Bob Weir collapsing onstage at The Capitol Theatre in 2013.

The guitarist also addressed author Joel Selvin’s claim in his 2018 book Fare Thee Well that Kadlecik was recruited for Furthur in part to hinder Dark Star Orchestra. “I’m just going to go on record and say that guy didn’t even approach me,” John K. said. “I was right there for Furthur. I was in the room where it happened. Frankly, that guy seems like he had an axe to grind with Phil Lesh when he wrote that book.”

Additionally, Kadlecik shared his appreciation for Phil’s wife, Jill Lesh. “I think Jill did a fine job with Furthur. I have no complains about my experience with her at all. I’m just going to pin that on the residual misogyny of rock & roll,” the guitarist noted. When asked by Greene whether he ever felt “stuck in the middle” between Lesh and Weir, Kadlecik responded “A little. But not as bad as [Joe] Russo. [Laughs.] He was put in the middle of the two of them as far as having to figure out who to accommodate going faster or slower.”

While John Kadlecik thought Trey Anastasio was a good choice to play lead guitar at the five Fare Thee Well concerts celebrating the Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary in 2015, he laughingly labeled the decision to bring John Mayer into the role with Dead & Company “an odd choice.” When pushed for additional comment, Kadlecik responded with the following:

I’m just looking at the repertoire list. I don’t know. [Laughs.] They’re seven years in and still only playing a certain number of songs. It’s all good. Whatever. They’re doing what they can. I imagine Mayer needs to figure out a way to preserve his identity, but I would have thought maybe we’d see more Grateful Dead songs to turn his core audience onto at his shows, and it hasn’t really happened.

Head to Rolling Stone to read the full interview. Kadlecik is currently touring with Melvin Seals & JGB.

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