Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, on a book tour to promote his autobiography Searching for the Sound, was at the Mira Mesa Barnes & Noble on June 9. Over 300 people were in line when Lesh showed up at 7:15. As he walked by the line, people said hello to him. He didn't look up or smile. A woman trying to get into the kids' section said, "What is this, a love-in?"
Lesh sat down at the table to sign at around 7:30. The first person to meet him didn't have a pen, and there were none on the table. As bookstore employees scattered to find one, the first five people in line offered theirs. Lesh signed three books for the first person but refused to sign a fourth one.
The second person had a photo of the Grateful Dead, and Lesh said, "Sorry, I'm only signing the book today." Soon after, a Barnes & Noble employee announced over the speakers that no memorabilia would be signed.
I walked toward the back of the line, noticing most in the crowd had Lesh's new book and other things they wanted signed. One person had photos they had taken of Lesh at San Francisco's Fillmore. Another guy had photos from a San Diego concert in the '70s. People held lots of albums in hopes of getting them signed.
One guy said, "I'll tell him he can keep the book. I'll pay the $27 [book price] for him to sign this photo. It's already signed by Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia. Hell, I'd give him $50."
When I walked back to Lesh's table, I asked him how he liked San Diego. He said, "It's great, but I've only been here an hour."
I watched as people were refused autographs for their memorabilia. Most were pissed. A few said they were glad to meet Lesh in person and shake his hand.
My friend Steve was in the middle of the line. He called me later and said that when he handed Lesh an album, he said, "Oh, that's nice," and set it down without signing it. The person behind Steve had a guitar signed by others in the Dead. Lesh did autograph that.