Jon McIntire, a thespian and manager of the Grateful Dead in the 1970’s and 80’s, died of cancer on February 16, at his home in Stinson Beach. He was 70.
McIntire followed Jerry Garcia to West Marin in 1971 and lived here sporadically for the last four decades. It was McIntire’s decision to slip notes reading “Dead freaks Unite!” into copies of the band’s seventh album that reputedly sparked the Deadhead phenomenon, known today as one of the most intense bonds between a band and its fan base in rock history.
“It sounds like a cliché, but, unlike most bands, working for the Grateful Dead was not seen as a job but as a mission to populate the planet,” said the band’s historian, Dennis McNally. “More than music, more than entertainment, there was something potentially transcendent about it all. Jon understood that and appreciated it and tried to further it.”
McIntire dropped out of school at San Francisco State to manage the Dead, becoming the band’s sole manager in 1970. He left four years later, but returned to manage the group from 1984 to 1989. McIntire resided in New York City and Newport, where he performed in numerous stage productions before returning to Stinson Beach around 2009. “I think he always considered Stinson home,” said Vickisa Feinberg, a friend. Feinberg said McIntire instilled manners and class in the children of Deadheads, becoming like an uncle to many.
His artistic expectations were unabashedly high. Susan Sohcot, the executive director of the Dead’s charitable foundation, which McIntire helped to oversee, described him as having “a very profound sense of what needed to be done to make something good.”
Tess Greene, a Stinson Beach resident and McIntire’s hairdresser in recent years, agreed. “I didn’t know him that well,” she said, “but I know he was very particular about his hair.”