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Jerry Garcia(August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995) was an American musician best known for being the principal songwriter, lead guitarist, and a vocalist with the rock band Grateful Dead, which he co-founded and which came to prominence during the counterculture of the 1960s. Although he disavowed the role, Garcia was viewed by many as the leader of the band. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 as a member of the Grateful Dead.
As one of its founders, Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for the band’s entire 30-year career (1965–1995). Garcia also founded and participated in a variety of side projects, including the Saunders–Garcia Band (with longtime friend Merl Saunders), the Jerry Garcia Band, Old & In the Way, the Garcia/Grisman and Garcia/Kahn acoustic duos, Legion of Mary, and New Riders of the Purple Sage (which he co-founded with John Dawson and David Nelson). He also released several solo albums, and contributed to a number of albums by other artists over the years as a session musician. He was well known for his distinctive guitar playing, and was ranked 13th in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” cover story in 2003. In the 2015 version of the list he was ranked at #46.
Garcia was renowned for his musical and technical ability, particularly his ability to play a variety of instruments and sustain long improvisations. Garcia believed that improvisation took stress away from his playing and allowed him to make spur of the moment decisions that he would not have made intentionally. In a 1993 interview with Rolling Stone, Garcia noted that “my own preferences are for improvisation, for making it up as I go along. The idea of picking, of eliminating possibilities by deciding, that’s difficult for me”. Originating from the days of the “acid tests”, these improvisations were a form of exploration rather than playing a song already written.
Later in life, Garcia struggled with diabetes. In 1986, he went into a diabetic coma that nearly cost him his life. Although his overall health improved somewhat after the incident, he continued to struggle with obesity, smoking, and long-standing heroin and cocaine addictions. He was staying in a California drug rehabilitation facility when he died of a heart attack on August 9, 1995 at age 53.
To learn more about Jerry Garcia, see his page at Wikipedia
Garcia's ancestors on his father's side were from Galicia in northwest Spain. His mother's ancestors were Irish and Swedish. He was born in the Excelsior District of San Francisco, California, on August 1, 1942, to Jose Ramon "Joe" Garcia and Ruth Marie "Bobbie" (née Clifford) Garcia,[a] who was herself born in San Francisco. His parents named him after composer Jerome Kern. Jerome John was their second child, preceded by Clifford Ramon "Tiff", who was born in 1937. Shortly before Clifford's birth, their father and a partner leased a building in downtown San Francisco and turned it into a bar, partly in response to Jose being blackballed from a musicians' union for moonlighting.[b]
Garcia was influenced by music at an early age, taking piano lessons for much of his childhood. His father was a retired professional musician and his mother enjoyed playing the piano. His father’s extended family—which had immigrated from Spain in 1919—would often sing during reunions.
In 1946, two-thirds of four-year-old Garcia’s right middle finger was cut off by his brother in a wood splitting accident, while the family was vacationing in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Garcia later confessed that he often used it to his advantage in his youth, showing it off to other children in his neighborhood.
Less than a year after this incident his father died in a fly fishing accident when the family was vacationing near Arcata in Northern California. He slipped after entering the Trinity River, part of the Six Rivers National Forest, and drowned before other fishermen could reach him. Although Garcia claimed he saw the incident, Dennis McNally, author of the book A Long Strange Trip: The Inside Story of the Grateful Dead, argues Garcia formed the memory after hearing others repeat the story. Blair Jackson, who wrote Garcia: An American Life, notes that a local newspaper article describing Jose’s death did not mention Jerry being present when he died.
Garcia is Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia's first solo album, released in 1972.
Warner Bros. Records offered the Grateful Dead the opportunity to cut their own solo records, and Garcia was released around the same time as Bob Weir’s Ace and Mickey Hart’s Rolling Thunder. Unlike Ace, which was practically a Grateful Dead album, Garcia was more of a solo effort, as Garcia played almost all the instrumental parts. Six tracks (specifically those coauthored by lyricist Robert Hunter) eventually became standards in the Grateful Dead concert repertoire.
Some reprints of the album are self-released. “Loser” was covered by Cracker on their 1993 album Kerosene Hat.
Live at Keystone…
Live at Keystone is an album by Merl Saunders, Jerry Garcia, John Kahn, and Bill Vitt. It was recorded live at the Keystone in Berkeley, California on July 10 and 11, 1973, and released later that year as a two-disc vinyl LP. It was re-released in 1988, with additional tracks, as two separate CDs, called Live at Keystone Volume I and Live at Keystone Volume II.
From February 1971 to July 1975, Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia often played live shows together when the Grateful Dead were not on tour. For many of those concerts, their band had the lineup featured on this album — Saunders on keyboards, Garcia on guitar and vocals, John Kahn on bass, and Bill Vitt on drums. One track of Live at Keystone, “Positively 4th Street”, also includes David Grisman on mandolin.