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Jerry Garcia

Background information
Birth name Jerome John Garcia
Born August 1, 1942
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died August 9, 1995 (aged 53)
Forest Knolls, California, U.S.
Genres Folk rock, jam, bluegrass, country rock, jazz, rock and roll, psychedelic rock, rhythm and blues, blues-rock
Occupations Musician Artist
Instruments Guitar, pedal steel guitar, banjo, vocals, piano
Years active 1960–1995
Labels Rhino, Arista, Warner Bros., Acoustic Disc, Grateful Dead
Associated acts Grateful Dead, Legion of Mary, Reconstruction, Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, New Riders of the Purple Sage
Notable instruments
Gibson SGs
Guild Starfire
1957 Gibson Les Paul
Gold-top Les Paul with P-90
Fender Stratocaster "Alligator"
Doug Irwin-modified Alembic "Wolf"
Doug Irwin Custom "Tiger"
Doug Irwin Custom "Rosebud"
Stephen Cripe Custom "Lightning Bolt," Martin D-28, Takamine acoustic-electric guitars

Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995) was an American musician best known for his work with the band the Grateful Dead.[1][2] Though he vehemently disavowed the role, Garcia was viewed by many as the leader or "spokesman" of the group.[1][2][3][4]

One of its original founders, Garcia performed with The Grateful Dead for their entire three-decade career (1965–1995). Garcia also founded and participated in a variety of side projects, including the Saunders-Garcia Band with longtime friend Merl Saunders, Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, and Legion of Mary.[1] Garcia co-founded the New Riders of the Purple Sage 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 by many for his distinctive guitar playing and was ranked 13th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" cover story.[5] Later in life, Garcia was sometimes ill because of his unstable weight, and in 1986 went into a diabetic coma that nearly cost him his life. Although his overall health improved somewhat after that, he also struggled with heroin addiction,[3][4] and was staying in a California drug rehabilitation facility when he died of a heart attack in August 1995.[2][4]


Early years

Jerry Garcia's ancestry was Galician (Spanish), Irish, and Swedish.[6] He was born in San Francisco, California, on August 1, 1942, to Jose Ramon "Joe" Garcia and Ruth Marie "Bobbie" (née Clifford) Garcia.[7][8][9] His parents named him after composer Jerome Kern.[7][10][11] Garcia was their second and youngest child, preceded by Clifford Ramon "Tiff" Garcia, who was born in 1937.[12][13] Shortly before Clifford's birth, their father and a partner leased a building in downtown San Francisco and turned it into a bar, a move in response to Jose being blackballed from a musician's union for moonlighting.[14]

Garcia was influenced by music at an early age,[15] taking piano lessons for much of his childhood.[16] His father was a retired professional musician and his mother enjoyed playing the piano.[7] His father's extended family—who had emigrated from Spain in 1919—would often sing during reunions.[13]

At age four,[17][18] Garcia underwent amputation of two-thirds of his right middle finger.[19][20] While vacationing in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Garcia was given the chore of steadying wood while his elder brother chopped, when he inadvertently put his finger in the way of the falling axe.[20] After his mother wrapped his hand in a towel Garcia's father drove him over thirty miles to the nearest hospital.[19] A few weeks later, Garcia—who never looked at the finger after the accident—was surprised to discover most of it missing when the bandage he was wearing came off during a bath.[21] Garcia later confided that he often used it to his advantage in his youth, showing it off to other children in his neighborhood.

Garcia experienced several tragic events during his youth. Less than a year after losing the segment of his finger, his father died. While on vacation with his family near Arcata in Northern California in 1947, his father went fly-fishing in the Trinity River, part of the Six Rivers National Forest.[22] Not long after entering he slipped on a rock underfoot, plunging into the deep rapids of the river. The incident was witnessed by a group of boys who immediately sought help, beckoning a pair of nearby fishermen. By the time he had been pulled from the water, he had already drowned. Garcia later claimed to have seen his father fall into the river, but Dennis McNally, author of the book A Long Strange Trip: The Inside Story of the Grateful Dead, asserts that he did not, instead forming the memory from hearing the story repeated many times.[11] Blair Jackson, who wrote the biography Garcia: An American Life, lends weight to McNally's claim, citing that the newspaper article describing Jose's death made no mention of Garcia being at the scene—even misidentifying him as his parents' daughter.[22]

Following the accident, Garcia's mother took over their late father's bar, buying out his partner for full ownership. As a result, Ruth Garcia began working full-time, sending Jerry and his brother to live just down the road with their maternal grandparents, Tillie and William Clifford. During the five-year period in which he lived with his grandparents, Garcia enjoyed a large amount of autonomy and attended Monroe School, the local elementary school. At the school, Garcia was greatly encouraged in his artistic abilities by his third grade teacher: through her, he discovered that "being a creative person was a viable possibility in life."[23] According to Garcia, it was around this time that he was opened up to country and to bluegrass by his grandmother, who he recalled enjoyed listening to the Grand Ole Opry. His elder brother, Clifford, however, staunchly believed the contrary, insisting that Garcia was "fantasizing all [that] ... she'd been to Opry, but she didn't listen to it on the radio." It was at this point that Garcia started playing the banjo, his first stringed instrument.[24]

In 1953, Garcia's mother was remarried to a man named Wally Matusiewicz.[25] Subsequently, Garcia and his brother moved back home with their mother and new stepfather. However, due to the roughneck reputation of their neighborhood at the time, the Excelsior District, Garcia's mother moved their family to Menlo Park.[25] During their stay in Menlo Park, Garcia became acquainted with racism and antisemitism, things he disliked intensely.[25] The same year, Garcia was also introduced to rock and roll and rhythm and blues by his brother, and enjoyed listening to the likes of Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, B. B. King, Hank Ballard, and, in a few years, Chuck Berry.[26] Clifford often memorized the vocals for his favorite songs, and would then make Garcia learn the harmony parts, a move to which Garcia later attributed much of his early ear training.[26]

In mid-1957, Garcia began smoking cigarettes and was introduced to marijuana.[27][28] Garcia would later reminisce about the first time he smoked marijuana: "Me and a friend of mine went up into the hills with two joints, the San Francisco foothills, and smoked these joints and just got so high and laughed and roared and went skipping down the streets doing funny things and just having a helluva time".[15] During this time, Garcia also took up an art program at the San Francisco Art Institute in order to further his burgeoning interest in the visual arts.[17] The teacher there was Wally Hedrick, an artist who came to prominence during the 1960s. During the classes, he often encouraged Garcia in his drawing and painting skills.[29]

In June of the same year, Garcia graduated from the local Menlo Oaks school. He then moved with his family back to San Francisco, where they lived in an apartment above the newly built bar, having previously been torn down to make way for a freeway entrance.[30] Two months later, on Garcia's fifteenth birthday, his mother purchased him an accordion, greatly to his disappointment.[15] Garcia had long been captivated by many rhythm and blues artists, especially Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley: his one wish at this point was to have an electric guitar.[30] After some pleading, his mother exchanged the accordion for a Danelectro with a small amplifier at a local pawnshop.[31] Garcia's stepfather, who was somewhat proficient with instruments, helped tune his guitar to an unusual open tuning.[27]

After a short stint at Denman Junior High School, Garcia attended tenth grade at Balboa High School in 1958, where he often got into trouble for skipping classes and fighting.[32] Consequently, in 1959, Garcia's mother again moved the family in order to get Garcia to stay out of trouble, this time to Cazadero, a small town in Sonoma County, 90 miles north of San Francisco.[32] This turn of events did not sit well with Garcia. In order to get to Analy High School, the nearest school, he had to travel by bus thirty miles to Sebastopol, a move which only made him more unhappy.[33] Garcia did, however, join a band at his school known as the Chords. After performing and winning a contest, the band's reward was recording a song—they chose "Raunchy" by Bill Doggett.[34]

Relocation and band beginnings (1960–1964)

Garcia stole his mother's car in 1960, and as punishment, joined the United States Army. He received basic training at Fort Ord.[15] After training, he was transferred to Fort Winfield Scott in the Presidio of San Francisco.[35] Garcia spent most of his time in the army at his leisure, missing roll call and accruing many counts of AWOL.[36] As a result, Garcia was given a general discharge on December 14, 1960.[37]

After his discharge in January 1961, Garcia drove down to East Palo Alto to see Laird Grant, an old friend from middle school.[38] Garcia, using his final paycheck from the army, purchased some gasoline and an old Chevrolet car, which barely made it to Grant's residence before it broke down.[38] Garcia proceeded to spend the next few weeks sleeping where friends would allow, eventually using his car as an apartment. Through Grant, Garcia met Dave McQueen in February, who, after hearing Garcia perform some blues, acquainted him with many people from the local area, as well as introduced him to the people at the Chateau, a rooming house located near Stanford University which was then a popular hangout.[39]

On February 20, 1961, Garcia entered a car with Paul Speegle, a 16-year-old artist and acquaintance of Garcia; Lee Adams, the house manager of the Chateau and driver of the car; and Alan Trist, a companion of theirs.[39] After speeding past the Menlo Park Veterans Hospital, the car encountered a curve and, traveling around ninety miles per hour, collided with the traffic bars, sending the car rolling turbulently.[40][41] Garcia was discharged through the windshield of the car into a nearby field with such force he was literally thrown out of his shoes and would later be unable to recall the ejection.[40] Lee Adams, the driver, and Alan Trist, who was seated in the back, were thrown from the car as well, suffering from abdominal injuries and a spine fracture, respectively.[40] Garcia escaped with a broken collarbone, while Speegle, still in the car, was fatally injured.[41]

The accident served as an awakening for Garcia, who later commented: "(t)hat's where my life began. Before then I was always living at less than capacity. I was idling. That was the slingshot for the rest of my life. It was like a second chance. Then I got serious".[42] It was at this time that Garcia began to realize that he needed to begin playing the guitar in earnest—a move which meant giving up his love of drawing and painting.[43]

Garcia met Robert Hunter in April 1960. Hunter would go on to become a long-time lyrical collaborator with the Grateful Dead.[1][7] Living out of his car next to Robert Hunter on a lot in East Palo Alto, Garcia and Hunter began to participate in the local art and music scenes, sometimes playing at Kepler's Books.[7] Garcia performed his first concert with Hunter, each earning five dollars. Garcia and Hunter would also play in a band with David Nelson, a contributor to a few Grateful Dead albums, labeled the Wildwood Boys.[17]

In 1962 Garcia met Phil Lesh, the eventual bassist of the Grateful Dead, during a party in Palo Alto's bohemian Perry Lane neighborhood (where Ken Kesey lived).[44] Lesh would later write in his autobiography that Garcia resembled the "composer Claude Debussy: dark, curly hair, goatee, Impressionist eyes".[17]

While attending another party in Palo Alto, Lesh approached Garcia to suggest that he record some songs on Lesh's tape recorder (Phil was musically trained, though he did not start playing bass guitar until the formation of the Grateful Dead in 1965) with the intention of getting them played on the radio station KPFA.[17] Using an old Wollensak tape recorder, they recorded "Matty Groves" and "The Long Black Veil", among several other tunes. Their efforts were not in vain, and they later landed a spot on the show, where a ninety-minute special was done specifically on Garcia. It was broadcast under the title "'The Long Black Veil' and Other Ballads: An Evening with Jerry Garcia".[17]

Garcia soon began playing and teaching acoustic guitar and banjo during this time.[17] One of Garcia's students was Bob Matthews, who later engineered many of the Grateful Dead's albums.[45] Matthews went to high school and was friends with Bob Weir, and on New Year's Eve 1963, he introduced Weir and Garcia to each other.[45]

Between 1962 and 1964, Garcia sang and performed mainly bluegrass, old-time and folk music. One of the bands Garcia was known to perform with was the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers, a bluegrass act. The group consisted of Jerry Garcia on guitar, banjo, vocals, and harmonica, Marshall Leicester on banjo, guitar, and vocals, and Dick Arnold on fiddle and vocals.[46] Soon thereafter, Garcia joined a local bluegrass and folk band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, whose membership also included Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.

Around this time, the psychedelic LSD was beginning to gain prominence. Garcia first began experimenting with LSD in 1964; later, when asked how it changed his life, he remarked: "Well, it changed everything [...] the effect was that it freed me because I suddenly realized that my little attempt at having a straight life and doing that was really a fiction and just wasn't going to work out. Luckily I wasn't far enough into it for it to be shattering or anything; it was like a realization that just made me feel immensely relieved".[15]

In 1965, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions evolved into the Warlocks, with the addition of Phil Lesh on bass guitar and Bill Kreutzmann on percussion. However, the band quickly learned that another group was already performing under their newly selected name, prompting another name change. After several suggestions, Garcia came up with the name by opening a Funk and Wagnall's dictionary. He was then promptly greeted with the "Grateful Dead".[15][16][17] The definition provided for "Grateful Dead" was "a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial".[47] The band's immediate reaction was disapproval.[15][16] Garcia later explained the group's feelings towards the name: "I didn't like it really, I just found it to be really powerful. [Bob] Weir didn't like it, [Bill] Kreutzmann didn't like it and nobody really wanted to hear about it. [...]"[15] Despite their dislike of the name, it quickly spread by word of mouth, and soon became their official title.

Career with the Grateful Dead

The corner of Haight and Ashbury, center of the San Francisco neighborhood in which the Grateful Dead shared a house at 710 Ashbury from fall 1966 to spring 1968.

Garcia served as lead guitarist, as well as one of the principal vocalists and songwriters of the Grateful Dead for their entire career. Garcia composed such songs as "Dark Star",[48] "Franklin's Tower",[48] and "Scarlet Begonias",[48] among many others. Robert Hunter, an ardent collaborator with the band, wrote the lyrics to all but a few of Garcia's songs.

Garcia was well-noted for his "soulful extended guitar improvisations",[2] which would frequently feature interplay between himself and his fellow band members. His fame, as well as the band's, arguably rested on their ability to never play a song the same way twice.[3] Often, Garcia would take cues from rhythm guitarist Bob Weir on when to solo, remarking that "there are some [...] kinds of ideas that would really throw me if I had to create a harmonic bridge between all the things going on rhythmically with two drums and Phil [Lesh's] innovative bass playing. Weir's ability to solve that sort of problem is extraordinary. [...] Harmonically, I take a lot of my solo cues from Bob."[49]

When asked to describe his approach to soloing, Garcia commented: "It keeps on changing. I still basically revolve around the melody and the way it’s broken up into phrases as I perceive them. With most solos, I tend to play something that phrases the way the melody does; my phrases may be more dense or have different value, but they’ll occur in the same places in the song. [...]"[50]

Garcia and the band toured almost constantly from their formation in 1965 until Garcia's death in 1995, a stint which gave credit to the name "endless tour". Periodically, there were breaks due to exhaustion or health problems, often due to unstable health and/or Garcia's drug use. During their three decade span, the Grateful Dead played 2,314 shows.[3]

Garcia's mature guitar-playing melded elements from the various kinds of music that had enthralled him. Echoes of bluegrass playing (such as Arthur Smith and Doc Watson) could be heard. But the "roots music" behind bluegrass had its influence, too, and melodic riffs from Celtic fiddle jigs can be distinguished.[citation needed] There was also early rock (like Lonnie Mack, James Burton and Chuck Berry), contemporary blues (such as Freddie King and Lowell Fulson), country and western (such as Roy Nichols and Don Rich), and jazz (like Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt ) to be heard in Jerry's style. Don Rich was the sparkling country guitar player in Buck Owens's "the Buckaroos" band of the 1960s, but besides Rich's style, both Garcia's pedal steel guitar playing (on Grateful Dead records and others) and his standard electric guitar work, were influenced by another of Owens's Buckaroos of that time, pedal-steel player Tom Brumley. And as an improvisational soloist, John Coltrane was one of his greatest personal and musical influences.

Jerry Garcia in 1969

Garcia later described his playing style as having "descended from barroom rock and roll, country guitar. Just 'cause that's where all my stuff comes from. It's like that blues instrumental stuff that was happening in the late Fifties and early Sixties, like Freddie King." Garcia's style varied somewhat according to the song or instrumental to which he was contributing. His playing had a number of so-called "signatures" and, in his work through the years with the Grateful Dead, one of these was lead lines making much use of rhythmic triplets (examples include the songs "Good Morning Little School Girl", "New Speedway Boogie", "Brokedown Palace", "Deal", "Loser", "Truckin'", "That's It for the Other One", "U.S. Blues", "Sugaree", and "Don't Ease Me In").

Side projects

In addition to the Grateful Dead, Garcia had numerous side projects, the most notable being the Jerry Garcia Band. He was also involved with various acoustic projects such as Old and in the Way and other bluegrass bands, including collaborations with noted bluegrass mandolinist David Grisman. The documentary film Grateful Dawg chronicles the deep, long-term friendship between Garcia and Grisman[51].

Other groups of which Garcia was a member at one time or another include the Black Mountain Boys, Legion of Mary, Reconstruction, and the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. Jerry Garcia was also an appreciative fan of jazz artists and improvisation: he played with jazz keyboardists Merl Saunders and Howard Wales for many years in various groups and jam sessions, and he appeared on saxophonist Ornette Coleman's 1988 album, Virgin Beauty. His collaboration with Merl Saunders and Muruga Booker on the Grammy-nominated world music album Blues From the Rainforest launched the Rainforest Band[52].

The album cover of Garcia (1972), Garcia's début solo album. Several of the songs featured on the album eventually became concert staples of the Grateful Dead

Garcia also spent a lot of time in the recording studio helping out fellow musician friends in session work, often adding guitar, vocals, pedal steel, sometimes banjo and piano and even producing. He played on over 50 studio albums the styles of which were eclectic and varied, including bluegrass, rock, folk, blues, country, jazz, electronic music, gospel, funk, and reggae. Artists who sought Garcia's help included the likes of Jefferson Airplane (most notably Surrealistic Pillow, Garcia being listed as their "Spiritual Advisor"), Tom Fogerty, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, David Bromberg, Robert Hunter (Liberty, on Relix Records), Paul Pena, Peter Rowan, Warren Zevon, Country Joe McDonald, Ken Nordine, Ornette Coleman, Bruce Hornsby, Bob Dylan and many more. He was also one of the first musicians to really cover in depth Motown music in the early-1970s and probably the most prolific coverer of Bob Dylan songs. In 1995 Garcia played on three tracks for the CD Blue Incantation by guitarist Sanjay Mishra, making it his last studio collaboration.

Throughout the early-1970s, Garcia, Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Mickey Hart, and David Crosby collaborated intermittently with MIT-educated composer and biologist Ned Lagin on several projects in the realm of early electronica; these include the album Seastones (released by the Dead on their Round Records subsidiary) and L, an unfinished dance work.

Garcia also lent pedal-steel guitar playing to fellow-San Francisco musicians New Riders of the Purple Sage from their initial dates in 1969 to October 1971, when increased commitments with the Dead forced him to opt out of the group. He appears as a band member on their début album New Riders of the Purple Sage, and produced Home, Home On The Road, a 1974 live album by the band. He also contributed pedal steel guitar to the enduring hit "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. Garcia also played steel guitar licks on Brewer & Shipley's 1970 album Tarkio. Despite considering himself a novice on the pedal steel, Garcia routinely ranked high in player polls. After a long lapse from playing the pedal-steel, he played it once more during several of the Dead's concerts with Bob Dylan during the summer of 1987.

Having studied art at the San Francisco Art Institute, Garcia embarked on a second career in the visual arts. He offered for sale and auction to the public a number of illustrations, lithographs, and water colors. Some of those pieces became the basis of a line of men's neckties characterized by bright colors and abstract patterns. Even in 2005, ten years after Garcia's death, new styles and designs continued to be produced and sold.

Personal life

Garcia met his first wife, Sara Ruppenthal Garcia, in 1963.[17] She was working at the coffee house in the back of Kepler's Bookstore where Garcia, Hunter, and Nelson performed. They married on April 23 of the same year, and had their only child together, a daughter whom they named Heather, on December 8, 1963.[53]

Garcia was subjected to a handful of drug busts during his lifetime. On October 2, 1967, 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco, where the Grateful Dead had taken up residence the year before,[54] was raided after police were tipped off by an informant.[17] The police action resulted in most of the Grateful Dead being apprehended (sans Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, and Garcia's future wife Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Adams). Strangely, Garcia and Adams were led out of the residence by the very same informant shortly before it was raided.

Another seizure was experienced in January 1970, after the Grateful Dead flew to New Orleans from Hawaii.[17] After returning from a recent performance, the band checked into their rooms, only to be quickly raided by police. Around fifteen people were arrested on the spot, including many of the road crew, management, and nearly all of the Grateful Dead (except Garcia, who arrived later, and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, who wasn't doing substances at the time).[17] A month later on February 2, 1970, Adams gave birth to a girl named Annabelle Walker Garcia.[53]

During August 1970, Garcia's mother Ruth was involved in a car accident near Twin Peaks in San Francisco.[17] Garcia, who was recording the album American Beauty at the time, often left the sessions to visit his mother with his brother Clifford. She later died on September 28, 1970. That same year, Garcia participated in the soundtrack for the film Zabriskie Point.

On September 21, 1974, Adams gave birth to Garcia's third daughter, Theresa Adams Garcia (aka Trixie Garcia).[53] In 1975, around the time Blues for Allah was being created, Garcia met Deborah Koons, the woman who would much later become his third wife and widow.[17] He began seeing her while he was still involved with Adams, with whom Koons had a less-than-perfect relationship. Garcia and Koons eventually went different ways.

Influenced by the stresses of creating and releasing The Grateful Dead Movie in 1977, Garcia began using cocaine, later progressing to smoking heroin. This, combined with the drug use of several other members of the Grateful Dead, produced turbulent times for the band; starting in 1981, the band's chemistry began "cracking and crumbling",[17] resulting in poor live performances and group cohesion. The so-called "endless tour", the result of years of financial risks and mistakes, also became extremely taxing. During the same year, Garcia married Adams, making her his second wife.

Garcia's use of heroin increased heavily over the next seven years, eventually culminating in the rest of the Grateful Dead holding an intervention in 1984.[17] Given the choice between the band or the drugs, Garcia readily agreed to check into a rehabilitation center in Oakland, California. In 1985, nearing the completion of his program in Oakland, Garcia was arrested for drug possession in Golden Gate Park; Garcia subsequently attended a drug diversion program.

Precipitated by an unhealthy weight, bad eating habits, and drug use, Garcia collapsed into a diabetic coma in 1986, waking up five days later.[3][4] Garcia later spoke about this period of unconsciousness as surreal: "Well, I had some very weird experiences. My main experience was one of furious activity and tremendous struggle in a sort of futuristic, space-ship vehicle with insectoid presences. After I came out of my coma, I had this image of myself as these little hunks of protoplasm that were stuck together kind of like stamps with perforations between them that you could snap off."[16] Garcia's coma had a profound effect on him: it forced him to have to relearn how to play the guitar, as well as other, more basic skills. Within a handful of months, Garcia quickly recovered, playing with the Jerry Garcia Band and the Grateful Dead again later that year.[17] Garcia frequently saw a woman named Manasha Matheson during this period. Together they produced Garcia's fourth and final child, a girl named Keelin Noel Garcia, who was born December 20, 1987.[53] Jerry, Keelin and Manasha toured and shared a home together as a family until 1993. During the creation of Built to Last in 1989, Garcia relapsed. In 1991, Garcia was confronted by the Grateful Dead with another intervention. After a disastrous meeting, Garcia invited Phil Lesh over to his home in San Rafael, California, where he explained that after the meeting he would start attending a methadone clinic. Garcia cited that he simply wanted to clean up in his own way.[17]

After returning from the Grateful Dead's 1992 summer tour, Garcia became extremely sick, evidently a throwback to his diabetic coma in 1986.[17] Refusing to go to the hospital, he instead enlisted the aid of an acupuncturist named Yen Wei Choong and a licensed doctor to treat him personally at home. Garcia recovered over the following days, despite the Grateful Dead having to cancel their fall tour to allow him time to recuperate. Following this episode, Garcia began losing weight.

Garcia and girlfriend Barbara Meier separated at the beginning of the Dead's 1993 tour, having met in December of the previous year. In 1994, Garcia renewed acquaintances with Deborah Koons, with whom he had been involved sometime around 1975; marrying her on February 14, 1994, in Sausalito, California. The wedding was attended by family and friends.[17] Garcia had divorced Adams in January of that year.

By the beginning of 1995, Garcia's physical and mental condition began a decline. His playing ability suffered to the point where he would turn down the volume of his guitar, and he often had to be reminded of what song he was performing.[17]

In light of his drug relapse in 1989 and current condition, Garcia checked himself into the Betty Ford Center during July 1995. His stay was limited, however, lasting only two weeks. Motivated by the experience, he then checked into the Serenity Knolls treatment center in Forest Knolls, California.[4][55]


On August 9, 1995, at 4:23 AM, Garcia's body was discovered in his room at the rehabilitation clinic.[4][55] The cause of death was a heart attack.[56] Garcia had long struggled with drug addiction,[4] weight problems, and sleep apnea,[4] all of which contributed to his physical decline. Phil Lesh remarked in his autobiography that, upon hearing of Garcia's death, "I was struck numb; I had lost my oldest surviving friend, my brother."[17]

On the morning of August 10, Garcia was rested at a funeral home in San Rafael, California. On August 12, at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Belvedere, Garcia's funeral was held.[17][55] It was attended by his family, the remaining Grateful Dead and their friends, including former basketball player Bill Walton and musician Bob Dylan, and his widow Deborah Koons,[55] who barred Garcia's other two wives from the ceremony.[17]

On August 13, a municipally-sanctioned public memorial took place in the Polo Fields of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, and was attended by about twenty-five thousand people.[17] The crowds produced hundreds of flowers, gifts, images, and even a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace"[55] in remembrance.

On April 4, 1996, Bob Weir and Deborah Koons spread half of Garcia's cremated ashes into the Ganges River at the holy city of Rishikesh, India,[17][57] a site sacred to the Hindus. Then, according to Garcia's last wishes, the other half of his ashes were poured into the San Francisco Bay. Deborah Koons disallowed one of Garcia's ex-wives, Carolyn "Mountain Girl" Garcia, from attending the spreading of the ashes.[58]


Garcia played many guitars during his career, which ranged from Fender Stratocasters and Gibson SGs to custom-made instruments. During his thirty-odd years of being a musician, Garcia used about twenty-five different guitars.[59]

In 1965, when Garcia was playing with the Warlocks, he used a Guild Starfire,[59] which he also used on the début album of the Grateful Dead. Beginning in late 1967 and ending in 1968, Garcia played various colored Gibson Les Paul guitars. In 1969, he picked up the Gibson SG and used it for most of that year and 1970, except for a small period in between where he used a Sunburst Fender Stratocaster.

During Garcia's "pedal steel flirtation period" (as Bob Weir referred to it in Anthem to Beauty), from approximately 1968 to 1973, he played a ZB Custom D-10 steel guitar, especially in his earlier public performances. Although this was a double neck guitar, Garcia often would choose not to attach the last 5 pedal rods for the rear or Western Swing neck. Additionally, he was playing an Emmons D-10 at the time of the Grateful Dead's and New Riders of the Purple Sage's final appearances at the Filmore East in late April 1971. Also, he had been given a Fender Pedal Steel (probably a 1000 model) prior to owning the ZB Custom, but did not play it much.[citation needed]

In 1969, Garcia played pedal steel on two notable outside recordings: the track "The Farm" on the Jefferson Airplane album Volunteers; and the hit single "Teach Your Children" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young from their album Déjà Vu, released in 1970. Garcia played on the latter album in exchange for harmony lessons for the Grateful Dead, who were at the time recording their acoustic albums Workingman's Dead and American Beauty.[60]

In 1972, Garcia used a Fender Stratocaster nicknamed Alligator for its alligator sticker on the pickguard.[59] The guitar was given to him by Graham Nash. This was due in part to damage to his first custom-made guitar, made by Alembic. This guitar, nicknamed Wolf for a memorable sticker Garcia added below the tailpiece, cost $1500 - extremely high for the time.[61]

In the late eighties Garcia, Weir and CSN (along with many others) endorsed Alvarez Yairi acoustic guitars. There are many photographs circulating (mostly promotional) of Jerry playing a DY99 Virtuoso Custom with a Modulus Graphite neck. He opted to play with the less decorated model but the promotional photo from the Alvarez Yairi catalog has him holding the "tree of life" model. This hand-built guitar was notable for the collaboration between Japanese luthier Kazuo Yairi and Modulus Graphite of San Rafael. As with most things Garcia, with his passing, the DY99 model is rendered legend and valuable among collectors.

Wolf was made with an ebony fingerboard and featured numerous embellishments like alternating grain designs in the headstock, ivory inlays, and fret marker dots made of sterling silver. The body was composed of western maple wood which had a core of purpleheart. Garcia later had former Alembic employee Doug Irwin replace the electronics inside the guitar, at which point he added his own logo to the headstock alongside the Alembic logo. The system included two interchangeable plates for configuring pickups: one was made for strictly single coils, while the other accommodated humbuckers. Shortly after receiving the modified instrument, Garcia requested another custom guitar from Irwin with the advice "don't hold back."[61]

During the Grateful Dead's European Tour, Wolf was dropped on several occasions, one of which caused a minor crack in the headstock. Garcia returned it to Irwin to fix; during its two-year absence Garcia played predominantly Travis Bean guitars. On September 28, 1977, Irwin delivered the renovated Wolf back to Garcia.[61] The wolf sticker which gave the guitar its name had now been inlaid into the instrument; it also featured an effects loop between the pick-ups and controls (so inline effects would "see" the same signal at all times) which was bypassable. Irwin also put a new face on the headstock with only his logo (he later claimed to have built the guitar himself, though pictures through time clearly show the progression of logos, from Alembic, to Alembic & Irwin, to only Irwin).

Nearly seven years after he first requested it,[59] Garcia received his second custom guitar from Irwin in 1979. It was named Tiger from the inlay on the preamp cover.[62] The body of Tiger was of rich quality: the top layer was cocobolo, with the preceding layers being maple stripe, vermilion, and flame maple, in that order.[62] The neck was made of western maple with an ebony fingerboard. The pickups consisted of a single coil DiMarzio SDS-1 and two humbucker DiMarzio Super IIs which were easily removable due to Garcia's preference for replacing his pickups every year or two.[62] The electronics were composed of an effects bypass loop, which allowed Garcia to control the sound of his effects through the tone controls, and an amplifier which rested behind a plate in the back of the guitar. In terms of weight, everything included made Tiger tip the scales at 13½ pounds. This was Garcia's principal guitar for the next eleven years.

In 1990, Irwin completed Rosebud, Garcia's third custom guitar.[63] It was similar to his previous guitar Tiger in many respects, but featured different inlays and electronics, tone and volume controls, and weight. Rosebud, unlike Tiger, was configured with three humbuckers; the neck and bridge pickups shared a tone control, while the middle had its own. Inside the guitar, a Roland GK-2 synthesizer was used in junction with GR-50 rack mount, producing the MIDI effects heard during live performances of this period.[63] Sections of the guitar were hollowed out in order to bring the weight down to 11½ pounds. The inlay, a dancing skeleton holding a rose, covers a plate just below the bridge. The final cost of the instrument was $11,000.[63]

In 1993, carpenter-turned-luthier Stephen Cripe tried his hand at making an instrument for Garcia.[59] After researching Tiger through pictures and films, Cripe set out on what would soon become known as Lightning Bolt, again named for its inlay.[64] The guitar used Brazilian rosewood for the fingerboard and East Indian rosewood for the body, which, with admitted irony from Cripe, was taken from a 19th century bed used by opium smokers.[64] Built purely from guesswork, Lightning Bolt was a hit with Garcia, who began using the guitar exclusively. Soon after, Garcia requested that Cripe build a backup of the guitar. Cripe, who had not measured or photographed the original, was told simply to "wing it."[64]

Cripe later delivered the backup, which was known by the name Top Hat. Garcia bought it from him for the price of $6,500, making it the first guitar that Cripe had ever sold.[64] However, infatuated with Lightning Bolt, Garcia rarely used the backup.

After Garcia's death, the ownership of his Wolf and Tiger came into question. According to Garcia's will,[53] his guitars were to go to Doug Irwin, who had constructed them.[65][66] The remaining Grateful Dead members disagreed—they considered his guitars to be property of the band, leading to a lawsuit between the two parties.[65][66] In 2001, Irwin won the case. However, due to being a victim of a hit-and-run accident in 1998,[66] Irwin was left nearly penniless. This forced him to set Garcia's guitars up for auction in hopes of being able to start another guitar workshop.[65]

On May 8, 2002, Wolf and Tiger, among other memorabilia, were placed for auction at Studio 54 in New York City.[65] Tiger was purchased for $957,500, while Wolf was bought for $789,500. Together, the instruments were bought for 1.74 million dollars, setting a new world record.[66] Tiger is in the private collection of Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.[67]

J. Garcia neckties

J. Garcia is a line of neckties originally inspired by the paintings of Jerry Garcia. The line was introduced by Stonehenge, Ltd in 1992, with the name "J. Garcia" deliberately chosen to separate the ties' marketing and image from that of other Grateful Dead or Jerry Garcia merchandise.[68][69][70]


In 1987, ice cream manufacturers Ben & Jerry's came out with Cherry Garcia, which is named after the guitarist and consists of "cherry ice cream with cherries and fudge flakes".[71][72][73][74]

Garcia was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead in 1994.

Famous guitar player and known Jerry fan Warren Haynes wrote the song "Patchwork Quilt" in memory of Jerry.

In the episode titled Halloween: The Final Chapter on the show Roseanne, aired shortly after his death on October 31, 1995, a tribute to Jerry Garcia was made, and the character name of the baby was Jerry Garcia Conner.

In 2003, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Jerry Garcia 13th in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.[5]

Rapper Proof released an album named after Garcia, Searching for Jerry Garcia. The album was dedicated to the Grateful Dead and released ten years to the day of Garcia's death.

Ween recorded the song, "So Long Jerry" for during the sessions for their 12 Golden Country Greats album, but it was left off the album, eventually appearing on the "Piss Up a Rope" single.

According to fellow Bay Area guitar player Henry Kaiser, Garcia is "the most recorded guitarist in history. With more than 2,200 Grateful Dead concerts, and 1,000 Jerry Garcia Band concerts captured on tape — as well as numerous studio sessions — there are about 15,000 hours of his guitar work preserved for the ages."[75]

On July 30, 2004, Melvin Seals was the first Jerry Garcia Band member to headline an outdoor music and camping festival named in honor of Jerry Garcia, called Grateful Garcia Gathering. Jerry Garcia Band drummer David Kemper joined Melvin Seals & JGB in 2007. To date, other musicians/friends of Jerry's have included Donna Jean, Mookie Siegel, Pete Sears, G.E. Smith, Barry Sless, to name a few musicians.

On July 21, 2005, the San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission passed a resolution to name the amphitheater in McLaren Park "The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater."[76] The amphitheater is located in the Excelsior District, where Garcia grew up. The first show to happen at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater was Jerry Day 2005 on August 7, 2005. Tiff Garcia was the first person to welcome everybody to the "Jerry Garcia Amphitheater." Jerry Day is an annual celebration of Jerry in his childhood neighborhood. The dedication ceremony (Jerry Day 2) on October 29, 2005 was officiated by mayor Gavin Newsom.

On September 24, 2005, the Comes a Time: A Celebration of the Music & Spirit of Jerry Garcia tribute concert was held at the Hearst Greek Theatre in Berkeley, California.[77] The concert featured Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Bruce Hornsby, Trey Anastasio, Warren Haynes, Jimmy Herring, Michael Kang, Jay Lane, Jeff Chimenti, Mark Karan, Robin Sylvester, Kenny Brooks, Melvin Seals, Marty Holland, Stu Allen, Gloria Jones, and Jackie LaBranch.

On March 4, 2008, six Grateful Dead songs were made available on the hit video game, Rock Band, from MTV Games & Harmonix Music Systems on the Microsoft Xbox 360 and Sony PlayStation 3 video game consoles. The songs released were "China Cat Sunflower", "Casey Jones", "Sugar Magnolia", "Truckin'", "Franklin's Tower", and "I Need a Miracle".

On January 27, 2009, six more Grateful Dead songs were made available for Rock Band. The songs released in Grateful Dead pack 2 were "Hell In a Bucket", "Don't Ease Me In", "Cold Rain & Snow", "Doin' That Rag", "Fire On the Mountain", and "Uncle John's Band".

Also in 2008, Georgia-based composer Lee Johnson released an orchestral tribute to the music of The Grateful Dead, recorded with the Russian National Orchestra, entitled "Dead Symphony: Lee Johnson Symphony No. 6." Johnson was interviewed on NPR on the July 26, 2008 broadcast of "Weekend Edition", and gave much credit to the genius and craft of Garcia's songwriter. A live performance with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Johnson himself, was held Friday, August 1.[78].

Seattle rock band Soundgarden wrote and recorded the instrumental song "Jerry Garcia's Finger", which was released as a b-side with their single "Pretty Noose"

Numerous music festivals across the United States and Uxbridge, Middlesex, UK hold annual events in memory of Jerry Garcia.


Notes and references

  1. ^ a b c d Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Jerry Garcia biography". Allmusic biographies. All Media Guide, LLC. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Garcia, Jerome John". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-08. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "The Grateful Dead". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. 1994. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Compiled by Stratton, Jerry (1995). "Collection of news accounts on Jerry Garcia's death". Jerry Garcia: New Accounts First. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  5. ^ a b "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Cover stories. Rolling Stone. 2003. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  6. ^ Jackson, Blair (1999). Garcia: An American Life. Penguin Books. pp. 1,2,5. ISBN 0140291997. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Jerry Garcia: a SF mission upbringing growing up in the Excelsior". Retrieved 2007-04-03. 
  8. ^ Jackson, p. 7
  9. ^ McNally, Dennis (2002). A Long Strange Trip: The Inside Story of the Grateful Dead. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-1185-7. 
  10. ^ Troy, Sandy (1994). Captain Trips: A Biography of Jerry Garcia. Thunder's Mouth Press. ISBN 1-56025-076-3. 
  11. ^ a b McNally, pg. 7
  12. ^ McNally, pg. 6
  13. ^ a b Troy, pg. 3
  14. ^ Jackson, pg. 6
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h Wenner, Jann and Reich, Dr. Charles (1972). "Jerry Garcia interview". Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  16. ^ a b c d Brown, David Jay and Novick, Rebecca McClean. "Mavericks of the Mind: Conversations for the New Millennium". Mavericks of the Mind – Internet Edition. Retrieved 2007-04-08. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Lesh, Phil (2005). Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-00998-9. 
  18. ^ Jackson, pg. 8
  19. ^ a b Troy, pg. 4
  20. ^ a b McNally, pg. 8
  21. ^ Jackson, pg. 9
  22. ^ a b Jackson, pg. 11
  23. ^ Jackson, pg. 12
  24. ^ Jackson, pg. 13
  25. ^ a b c McNally, pg. 10
  26. ^ a b Troy, pg. 10
  27. ^ a b McNally, pg. 13
  28. ^ Troy, pg. 11
  29. ^ McNally, pg. 14
  30. ^ a b McNally, pg. 12
  31. ^ Troy, pg. 14
  32. ^ a b McNally, pg. 15
  33. ^ Troy, pg. 15
  34. ^ McNally, pg. 16
  35. ^ Troy, pg. 16
  36. ^ McNally, pg. 17
  37. ^ McNally, pg. 21
  38. ^ a b McNally, pg. 22
  39. ^ a b McNally, pg. 23
  40. ^ a b c McNally, pg. 24
  41. ^ a b Troy, pg. 26
  42. ^ Troy, pg. 27
  43. ^ McNally, pg. 25
  44. ^ Kahn, Alice (1984). Jerry Garcia and the Call of the Weird. originally appeared San Jose Mercury News, 12/1984, included in The Grateful Dead Reader on Google Books. Retrieved 2008-08-07. 
  45. ^ a b Metzger, John (2005). "Traveling So Many Roads with Bob Matthews". The Music Box. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  46. ^ Garcia, Jerry; Leicester, Marshall; and Arnold, Dick (1962). "Vintage Jerry Garcia/Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers 1962". Community Tracker. eTree. Retrieved 2007-04-04. 
  47. ^ Stories about the "Grateful Dead" appear in many cultures.
  48. ^ a b c Dodd, David (2007). "The Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics". Retrieved 2007-07-12. 
  49. ^ Sievert, Jon (1981). "Bob Weir Rhythm Ace". Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  50. ^ "Garcia on acoustic guitar playing". 1985. Retrieved 2007-07-16. 
  51. ^ Grateful Dawg on Internet Movie Data Base
  52. ^ Modern Drummer Magazine Website
  53. ^ a b c d e Garcia, Jerry (1994). "The Last Will and Testament of Jerome J. ("Jerry") Garcia". Rockmine. Retrieved 2007-05-16. 
  54. ^ Svetkey, Benjamin (March 12, 1993). "The essential Grateful Dead History". Entertainment Weekly.,,305844,00.html. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  55. ^ a b c d e Compiled by Stratton, Jerry. "Collection of news accounts on Jerry Garcia's death". Jerry Garcia: News Accounts After. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  56. ^ Dennis McNally, A Long Strange Trip, 2002, pg 614.
  57. ^ Adhikari, Sara. Times of India, April 14, 1996
  58. ^ Carlin, Plter. "War of the Wives", People, January 27, 1997
  59. ^ a b c d e "Jerry Garcia guitar history". Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  60. ^
  61. ^ a b c "The Wolf guitar". Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  62. ^ a b c "The Tiger guitar". Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  63. ^ a b c "The Rosebud guitar". Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  64. ^ a b c d "The Lightning Bolt guitar". Retrieved 2007-07-18. 
  65. ^ a b c d Wolverton, Troy (2002). "Jerry Garcia's guitars up for auction". CNet News. CNET Networks. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  66. ^ a b c d Selvin, Joel (2002). "'Wolf,' 'Tiger' sold at memorabilia auction for $1.74 million". Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 2007-07-20. 
  67. ^ "Irsay Can Get Satisfaction as the Laid-Back Owner of the Colts". Retrieved 2009-01-17. 
  68. ^ "Neckwear by J. Garcia; Button-Down Man Meets A Rock Legend, Sort Of", New York Times, July 10, 1992.
  69. ^ Lacher, Irene. "From Hotel Suites to Wet Suits, Jerry Garcia's Art Is Becoming an Empire", Los Angeles Times, March 14, 1995
  70. ^ Benson, Heidi. "TrendSpotting", San Francisco Chronicle, August 19, 2001
  71. ^ Bedding, James. "New England: Braving the Deep Freeze", The Daily Telegraph, January 22, 2005
  72. ^ Hays, Constance L. "Getting Serious at Ben & Jerry's: Cherry Garcia and Friends Trade Funky for Functional", The New York Times, May 22, 1998
  73. ^ Cherry Garcia Trademark Assignment Abstract of Title at the United States Patent and Trademark Office
  74. ^ Cherry Garcia at the Ben & Jerry's official website
  75. ^ Kaiser, Henry. "Jerry Garcia Live!", Guitar Player, October, 2007
  76. ^ "San Francisco Recreation & Park Department: Jerry Garcia Amphitheater". Recreation and Parks. City & County of San Francisco. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  77. ^ Margolis, Robert (2005). "Trey, Weir Honor Garcia". Rolling Stone news. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  78. ^ "Composer Introduces A 'Dead' Symphony". Retrieved 2008-07-26. 
  79. ^ "Jerry Garcia discography". The Grateful Dead Family Discography. Retrieved 2007-07-04. 
  80. ^ Dansby, Andrew. "Jerry Garcia Comes Alive", Rolling Stone, August 11, 2004

External links

Preceded by
Townes Van Zandt
AMA Presidents Award
Succeeded by
Lowell George


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Truth is something you stumble into when you think you're going someplace else.

Jerry Garcia (August 1, 1942August 9, 1995) was the lead guitarist and vocalist of the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead.


To get really high is to forget yourself. And to forget yourself is to see everything else. And to see everything else is to become an understanding molecule in evolution, a conscious tool of the universe. And I think every human being should be a conscious tool of the universe.
  • Another loyal Dead Head fan has passed. The Grateful Dead provided a universe, a place of association and individual passion by many, as in the case of the late follower, Richard Blood, who passed away 9-14-09.
  • It's pretty clear now that what looked like it might have been some kind of counterculture is, in reality, just the plain old chaos of undifferentiated weirdness.
  • Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.
  • For me, the lame part of the Sixties was the political part, the social part. The real part was the spiritual part.
  • I'm shopping around for something to do that no one will like.
  • I've always been really fond — in folk music, I've always been fond of the fragment. The song that has one verse. And you don't know anything about the characters, you don't know what they're doing, but they're doing something important. I love that. I'm really a sucker for that kind of song.
  • We are all bozos on the same bus
  • Truth is something you stumble into when you think you're going someplace else.
  • I think basically the Grateful Dead is not for cranking out rock and roll, it's not for going out and doing concerts or any of that stuff. I think it's to get high. To get really high is to forget yourself. And to forget yourself is to see everything else. And to see everything else is to become an understanding molecule in evolution, a conscious tool of the universe. And I think every human being should be a conscious tool of the universe.
  • We've been trying to sell out for years, nobody's buying!
  • Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.
  • You have to get past the idea that music has to be one thing. To be alive in America is to hear all kinds of music constantly — radio, records, churches, cats on the street, everywhere music, man. And with records, the whole history of music is open to everyone who wants to hear it. ... Nobody has to fool around with musty old scores, weird notation, and scholarship bullshit: you can just go into a record store and pick a century, pick a country, pick anything, and dig it, make it a part of you, add it to the stuff you carry around, and see that it's all music.
  • I can envisage a new world in which society has a way for there to be music, whose function is to get you high, that's the sort of thing we're hammering at...
  • Nobody stopped thinking about those psychedelic experiences. Once you've been to some of those places, you think, "How can I get back there again but make it a little easier on myself?"
  • For me, I think the only danger is being too much in love with guitar playing. The music is the most important thing, and the guitar is only the instrument.
  • I read somewhere that 77 per cent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 per cent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves.

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