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BRIAN ROHAN,
1936-2021

Brian Rohan, lawyer for the Grateful Dead and co-founder of the Haight-Ashbury Legal Organization, died 3/23 at his home in Larkspur, Calif. He was 84.

His daughter, Kathleen Jolson of Nicasio, told the San Francisco Chronicle he had been living with cancer for six years.

Rohan was recommended to the Dead by writer Ken Kesey after he got the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest author out of a legal jam over a marijuana-possession charge.

He negotiated the Grateful Dead’s first album contract, with Warner Bros., in 1966, and would also represent Jefferson Airplane, Santana and Janis Joplin.

He partnered with Bill Graham in Fillmore Records and San Francisco Records and later represented Kris Kristofferson, Aerosmith, Motorhead and Boston.

Rohan famously got charges against Jerry Garcia and other members of the Dead dropped after the police busted the band’s house on Ashbury Street in 1967. During the Summer of Love, he and his partner Michael Stepanian were the go-to pro bono lawyers for anyone busted for drug possession.

Beyond supporting the legends of San Francisco, Rohan’s most famous fight occurred at Clive Davis’ 1977 Grammy Awards brunch. There, Rohan punched David Geffen, infuriated that the label head wouldn’t return his calls. Chronicle columnist Herb Caen wrote that his punch was “applauded by Jann Wenner, Paul Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan’s lawyer, who said ‘I wish I’d done that.’”

 

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