It's been 22 Years since JERRY GARCIA died, but in some ways it's like he's never left...whenever a version of the GRATEFUL DEAD play a gig, Jerry's ghost seems to be on the stage. He was a complicated man, actually quite shy, who tried to avoid the role of spokesman for the Dead that as lead guitarist and singer was thrust upon him.
A man of large appetites, Garcia suffered from diabetes for most of his life and came close to death from a diabetic coma as early as 1986. Jerry was a part of the Dead from the beginning when he lost his dear friend Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (considered the real "musician in the band) until 1995 when they bid farewell to their literal Legion of Fans.
The Grateful Dead story is well-known; they became something of a cult with fans following around the country and setting up what resembled a carnival on the grounds of the gig with food, booze, t-shirts and drugs on sale. The true "Dead Heads" would brag about this being their 150th show or some other number...I remember another Promo Guy saying, "What the hell do they live on?" As we watched the huge crowds gather on one summer's day in Northern California.
Someone once told me that the only time Jerry Garcia was happy was when he was playing music, and the other times he treated his depression and loneliness with cocaine and heroin. It was no surprise, but a tragic event to many of the folks who loved him and the band when it was announced that Jerry Garcia had died in Rehab of a massive heart attack in August 1995 at the age of 53.
The blessing is that almost every Grateful Dead show had been recorded, often with LSD Guru and Audio Engineer, Owsley Stanley running the board, meaning that Jerry's work and his beloved fellow band members music will live on forever.
Thanks to Scott for finding this video of the Grateful Dead in 1977 performing Live, SUGAR MAGNOLIA, with good sound. @therealdonrocks
A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.