Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Jerry Garcia ~ A Biography

Jerry Garcia on Findagrave
Jerome John Garcia

Birth: Aug. 1, 1942
Alameda County
California, USA

Death: Aug. 9, 1995
Marin County
California, USA

Legendary Singer of the Grateful Dead, Musician, Song Writer, Artist, Cultural Icon. Jose Ramon Garcia emigrated from Spain in 1919 and later married Ruth Marie Clifford, a registered nurse. The Garcia's had two sons, Clifford "Tiff" and Jerome John which they raised in San Francisco, California. Jerome John was named after composer Jerome Kern. As young Jerome, called Jerry, suffered from asthma he spent long periods of time recuperating in bed. To overcome his boredom he took up drawing. This led to a lifelong interest in art. While chopping wood one day Tiff cut off the tip of his nine year old little brothers middle finger. Despite the injury to his digit, Jerry took up the guitar at the age of fifteen. A drop out of Balboa High School in San Francisco, the United States Army was not a perfect fit either. He enlisted on April 12, 1960 and received a general discharge on December 14, 1960 after two Courts-Martial and eight periods of being Absent Without Leave. However, he was bound for more artistic endeavors. Around the time period from 1960 to 1964 he teamed with a poet, Robert Hunter, and musician David Nelson to play music. They played folk, bluegrass and old-time music. Acoustic guitar and banjo teaching was another of his jobs. Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions was a band with members Bob Weir and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. After Jerry joined this group it became the Warlocks in 1965 and later became The Grateful Dead after Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann signed up. The band had only one top ten hit, "Touch Of Grey". Robert Hunter and Garcia wrote this song together along with "Uncle John's Band" and "Dark Star". They were among the more memorable tunes the band played throughout their career. During this time he learned electric guitar. There were many influences in his guitar playing style formed from music that he loved. Jazz, rock, bluegrass, blues, and country can all be heard when listening to his recordings. At the start of the Summer of Love, 1967, he lived at 710 Ashbury Street, San Francisco, right in the middle of the Haight Ashbury District. He earned the nickname "Captain Trips" because of his interest in LSD. The Grateful Dead acquired a group of fans that proclaimed themselves "Deadheads". The fans traveled from city to city, concert to concert following the band. Many kept the ideals from the Summer of Love and the 1960's. Most did not have regular employment and sold handmade goods and arts and crafts. For thirty years The Grateful Dead toured almost constantly. Other than The Dead, Garcia had many projects on which to work. The Jerry Garcia Band, Old and In The Way and a documentary film "Grateful Dawg", which is the story of his and mandolin player David Grisman's friendship. He made many guest appearances on other artist's albums, sometimes playing pedal steel guitar. Having studied at the California School of Fine Arts, he never gave up his love of art and continued to draw. Between 1985 and 1995 he created 500 pieces. He was a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductee in 1994 along with the band. Having suffered from addiction issues during his life he went for a stay at the Serenity Knolls drug rehabilitation center in Forest Knolls, California. While there he suffered a heart attack which was brought on by sleep apnea. He left behind four daughters, Heather, Anabelle, Theresa and Keelin and his wife, Deborah Koons. There was a memorial service at Golden Gate Park on August 13, 1995 with the band members playing. Thousands of fans showed up for the service. Many products have been released with the name Jerry Garcia somehow related to the title. In 1998 a line of neckties was released that featured patterns from his artwork. They have been quite successful. In 1987 Ben & Jerry's released an ice cream named "Cherry Garcia". During the month after Garcia's death the ice cream company used black cherries as a way to mourn the musicians' death. The McLaren Park Amphitheater located in the Excelsior District where he grew up was renamed "The Jerry Garcia Amphitheater". A "Jerry Day" was created with the first one being August 07, 2005. Tiff Garcia welcomed everyone to the newly named theatre. The event is held each year. The Dead decided the tour was over after Garcia passed away, so they disbanded. The other band members continue to work on solo projects. 

(bio by: Julie Karen Hancock (Cooper) Jackson) 

Cause of death: Heart attack

Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.
Specifically: Half of ashes scattered in the Ganges River in India, the other half were scattered beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA

1 comment:

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