From: Mr. Mood <[c s hubs] at [newriders.mcp.com]>
Organization: IQuest Network Services
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 1995 21:50:39 GMT
Don't mean to be obtuse, but a good coworker's friend's sister once dated Jerry and has run his answering service for many years. She got a call from the Marin County Sheriff at 4:30 am, to give you an idea of her standing. She said the band has been meeting in the GD offices all day to figure what to do. It sounded like-- and this is tentative of course-- they'll be doing somthing this weekend. Also, within the next couple days, unknown bands will be putting on a tribute show in Golden Gate Park. This woman said that people are just walking the streets of Marin County, crying.
JERRY'S DEAD--MAY HE REST IN PEACE
From: dtonizz <[d--n--z] at [hr.house.gov]>
Date: 9 Aug 1995 16:18:39 GMT
Organization: U.S. House of Representatives
NOVATO, Calif. (AP) Jerry Garcia, legendary leader of the Grateful Dead, died early today, Marin County sheriff's officials said.
Garcia's body was found at 4:23 a.m in his room at Serenity Knolls, a treatment facility in Forest Knolls. Attempts by paramedics to revive him were unsuccessful, a sheriff's officials said.
Sheriff's Deputy Doug Allen said Garcia apparently died of natural causes.
Garcia, 53, had a history of health problems that caused frequent breaks in The Grateful Dead's grueling concert schedule. In 1986, he was hospitalized in a diabetic coma.
He also has admitted past drug abuse.
The Grateful Dead has been the most popular act in the United States, grossing tens of millions of dollars each year in its national tours and attracting a nomadic group of fans, called Deadheads, who follow the band from performance to performance.
Jerry died - Official news
From: John Heckler <[h--k--r] at [meaddata.com]>
Date: 9 Aug 1995 17:07:26 GMT
Organization: Mead Data Central, Dayton OH
Jerry Garcia, the lead guitarist of veteran rock band the Grateful Dead, died of apparent natural causes Wednesday, the Marin County Sheriff's Office said.
Ken Frey, a detective at the sheriff's office, said Garcia was found dead at 4.23 am (723 EDT) by staff members at Serenity Knolls, a drug and alcohol treatment facility at Forest Knolls in California. Attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.
Garcia, 53, had suffered from diabetes and general ill health for several years.
An American cultural phenomenon for more than a quarter century, the Grateful Dead was one of the leading bands of San Francisco's 1960's flower power movement.
They extended their reach over the ensuing decades becoming one of the world's most popular draws on the concert circuit even though they rarely had hit albums.
The group was formed in 1966 and was one of the icons of the 60s and 70s. Jerry Garcia along with fellow guitarist Bob Weir, bass player Phil Lesh and drummer Bill Kreutzman were original members. Drummer Mickey Hart joined in 1967.
Garcia, born Jerome John Garcia in San Francisco in 1942, was the son a band leader. He dropped out of high school at 17 and worked as a salesman and teacher in California before forming the Warlocks rock group in 1965. The following year the Warlocks became the Grateful Dead.$99 REUTER
Reuters Release On Garcia
From: Jim Fournier <[j f f] at [huey.x.org]>
Date: 9 Aug 1995 20:03:34 GMT
Organization: X Consortium, Inc.
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuter) - Jerry Garcia, leader of the veteran Grateful Dead rock band and an enduring symbol of the counter-culture 1960s, died of natural causes at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Wednesday, officials said.
San Francisco's KCBS radio station quoted a band spokesman as saying Garcia, 53, died of a heart attack. But a spokeswoman for the Marin County Coroner's Office said the official cause of death would not be known for several weeks.
The Marin County Sheriff's Office said Garcia, the Grateful Dead's singer, lead guitarist and inspiration, was found dead in his room by staff at the Serenity Knolls residential treatment center in Forest Knolls, 20 miles north of San Francisco.
A staff nurse tried to revive Garcia and paramedics were called, but their efforts were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at the scene, apparently of natural causes, the sheriff's office said.
He is survived by his third wife Carolyn Koons, whom he married on Valentine's Day last year, and four daughters.
The death of the gray-haired, father-like Garcia plunged the Grateful Dead's huge following of fans, known as the Deadheads, into mourning and was seen as the end of an era.
The bearded Garcia, who lived in affluent Marin County, had suffered health problems for many years and had a history of using drugs, smoking and being overweight. He almost died in 1986 when he fell into a diabetic coma brought on by drug use.
Formed in San Francisco in 1966, the Grateful Dead quickly became the mainstay of the flower-power revolution that swung into effect at the end of that tumultous decade.
Unlike more political bands such as Jefferson Airplane, the Dead focused on feelgood vibes and unabashed hedonism, frequently aided by experimental drugs.
They extended their reach over the ensuing decades becoming one of the world's most popular draws on the concert circuit even though they recorded infrequently. Sales of their classic albums such as ``Workingman's Dead'' and ``American Beauty'' never matched the millions of dollars they pulled in each year on the concert circuit.
The fans who followed them around from show to show, often in their tie-dyed apparel, proudly called themselves ''Deadheads''.
Garcia along with fellow guitarist Bob Weir, bass player Phil Lesh and drummer Bill Kreutzman were original members. Drummer Mickey Hart joined in 1967. Several members died along the way, Ron ``Pigpen McKernan'', Brent Mydland and Keith Godchaux.
Death of Jerry Garcia
From: Jeremy G. Mereness <[j--e--m] at [andrew.cmu.edu]>
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 1995 16:19:37 -0400
Organization: Graduate School of Industrial Administr., Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, PA
Well, I didn't see any postings on this net all day on my newsreader, so I thought I would put something up...
excerpted w/o permission...
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuter) - Jerry Garcia, leader of the veteran Grateful Dead rock band and an enduring symbol of the counter-culture 1960s, died of natural causes at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center Wednesday, officials said.
The full story is available at http://www.yahoo.com/headlines/current/news/stories/garcia.html and links have been set up at http://www.well.com/conf/gd/ and http://www.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs.cmu.edu/user/mleone/web/dead.html
Needless to say, I'm bummed. Rest in Peace, Jerry. I'll savor the last time I saw you at Shoreline this year. This ol' world will be a little lonelier a place without you.
Catch-colt draws a coffin-cart.
SF Examiner Obituary - good
From: Michael Jay Roberts <[as m j r] at [forsythe.stanford.edu]>
Date: 10 Aug 1995 03:13:51 GMT
Organization: M Enterprises
Jerry Garcia dies
Larry D. Hatfield
Wednes, Aug. 9, 1995
Jerry Garcia, the legendary virtuoso guitarist who was the heart of the Grateful Dead and guru to two generations of Deadheads from the turbulent 1960s to the acquisitive 1990s, died early Wednesday in a Marin County drug rehabilitation center.
Garcia, who turned 53 eight days earlier, had a history of substance abuse that was legendary and had been in precarious health for years. His longtime publicist, Dennis McNally, said Garcia died of a heart attack.
His body was found at 4:23 a.m. on the floor of his room at Serenity Knolls in Forest Knolls, said Marin County Sheriff's Capt. Tom McMains. Paramedics from the county fire station in nearby Woodacre were unable to revive him.
"He appears to have died from natural causes," McMains said. "This was part of his trying to get in better health."
Garcia recently spent several weeks in the Betty Ford clinic in Palm Springs, where he was treated for substance abuse, according to sources close the band. He checked out of the clinic about a week ago.
"It's ironic that . . . he was . . . trying to get his body together and he died," one of the sources said.
"There's a large number of people in the company that will be devastated by the loss of Jerry Garcia," said Nicholas Clainos, co-president of Bill Graham Presents, which handled the Dead's tours.
"Jerry was unique among performers who worked with us. People felt very close to him. From a personal point of view, from the point of view of a generation, it's very hard to lose him - especially after Bill's death." Bill Graham, who played a major role in the band's success, died in a helicopter crash in Sonoma County in 1991.
Garcia, a bearish man whose health problems frequently interrupted the rock group's concert tours, almost died in 1986 from a diabetic coma.
Three years ago, the Grateful Dead had to cancel 22 concerts because of Garcia's health, but still grossed $31 million on tour, more than any band that year except U2.
Early last year, about the time he was married to Deborah Koons, a Marin County filmmaker he had met at a Dead show in the 1970s, Garcia shed 60 pounds and said he hadn't felt so good in years.
A few months before, he had been hospitalized for treatment of heart and lung problems.
With the newly invigorated Garcia playing as innovatively as he did 30 years ago, the band went back on tour and was enjoying a new surge in popularity.
More recently, however, friends and fans worried about his health; his appearance was that of a man far older than his 53 years and his habits of heavy smoking, junk food and, it was said, alcohol and drug abuse continued.
Garcia's death came after a difficult summer tour of the Northeast and the Midwest. Five times in June and July, violence or mishaps marred the band's shows in Highgate, Vt., Washington, D.C., Albany, N.Y., Noblesville, Ind., and Wentzville, Mo.
Asked if band members were glad the tour had ended after 87 people were injured in a structure collapse in Missouri, spokesman McNally was emphatic: "Hell, yes."
Garcia was born Jerome John Garcia in San Francisco on Aug. 1, 1942, to a ballroom jazz musician and bartender from Spain and a Swedish-Irish nurse who named him after composer Jerome Kern.
He was reared in the Mission District by his grandmother, Tillie Clifford, a founder of a union for laundry workers, a reason Garcia never crossed picket lines.
He went onto become the lead guitarist of the most popular act in the United States.
Not only did the San Rafael-based band formed in the 1960s gross tens of millions of dollars each year, it attracted a fanatic and nomadic army of fans, called Deadheads, who followed the group from performance to performance.
"I hope this doesn't separate us," said Wade Longworth, 22, of Minneapolis, when he learned of Garcia's death.
"This is the biggest non-blood (family) in the world. The scene around it all is still there though." Longworth said he had traveled with the band for three years.
Another Deadhead, Josh Cranford, 18, of Elkin, N.C., who planned to follow the Dead this fall, said, "The tour wasn't so much about the shows, it was about being with family.
"That'll all change, but it can't be forgotten. The band made their mark and it's here."
Garcia, who became interested in guitar because of his idol, the legendary rock pioneer Chuck Berry, got a Danelectro guitar and miniature Fender amplifier for his 15th birthday.
One biographer said he was too arrogant to take lessons, so he taught himself. He left home at 17 and joined the Army. Stationed at the Presidio in San Francisco with little to do, he practiced acoustic guitar by listening to the radio and copying finger positions from books. After the Army he met Robert Hunter, who was to become the Grateful Dead's lyricist, and they joined up for a time of pre-hippie hand-to-mouthing and folksinging.
In 1960, he survived a serious car accident and spent the next three years learning the five-string banjo.
Teaching guitar and playing bluegrass banjo in Bay Area coffeehouses, he met folk guitarist Bob Weir. In 1964, the two joined up with blues harmonica player and organist Ron McKernan to form Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions.
That semi-popular band quickly broke up and Garcia went to the South to study bluegrass more seriously.
With the Beatles-led rock generation birthing, Mother McCree's reformed as an electric blues band, making its debut at a pizza house in 1965 as the Warlocks.
Rhythm and blues drummer Bill Kreutzmann signed on and so did jazz trumpeter-composer Phil Lesh, the latter as a beginning bassist. They developed what the age would know as psychedelic rock and the rest, as they say, is history.
The legend goes that when they found out another band had previous claim on the name Warlocks, Garcia opened a dictionary at random to "grateful dead," a phrase with Irish and Egyptian mythological roots that the band interpreted to mean cyclical change, according to Current Biography Yearbook.
Moving to the Haight Ashbury to become the house band for the hippie takeover there, they balanced paid gigs at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium and the Family Dog's Avalon Ballroom with free concerts in Golden Gate Park.
Their first album - The Grateful Dead - was released in 1967 on the Warner Brothers label. It was recorded, the yearbook says, in "a three-night amphetamine frenzy."
Although it had ups and downs, the band has remained a worldwide favorite of rock fans from teenyboppers to graybeards, from counterculture to yuppiedom, ever since.
Garcia, who looked like a slightly berserk Santa Claus, was vastly amused by the Dead's success.
"I feel like we've been getting away with something ever since there were more people in the audience than there were on stage," he told a recent interviewer. "The first time that people didn't leave after the first three tunes, I felt like we were getting away with something.
"We've been falling uphill for 27 years. I don't know why. I have no idea. All I know is it's endlessly fascinating, and incredible luck probably has a lot to do with it."
Despite is vast popularity, the Dead had only one top 10 hit, the 1987 "Touch of Grey." But other of its songs - including "Truckin'," "Casey Jones" and "Friend of the Devil" - are rock classics.
So is Garcia's version of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door," a song that seemed to fit Garcia's life - and death.
Of it, he told an interviewer, "Some of these songs, it does hit you, you can't help but notice these things. You're dying, everybody's dying, and at some point or another you have to face it. It's a beautiful metaphor, a lovely way of saying that this is happening to all of us."
To Garcia, music was everything. "You need music," he said. "I don't know why. It's probably one of those Joe Campbell questions, why we need ritual. We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it." Garcia, who was married three times, is survived by his wife and four daughters, Heather, Annabelle, Theresa and Keelin. Funeral services were pending.
NY Times Article - Long
From: Eileen 'Lee' Katman <[l--e] at [bio-3.bsd.uchicago.edu]>
Organization: Bio Sci Div Academic Computing
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 1995 16:43:52 GMT
Reprinted without permission.
NY Times Article Thursday Aug. 10, 1995
Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead,
Icon of 60's Spirit, Dies at 53
Photo of Jerry Garcia at a Grateful Dead concert in June in New Jersey.
By JON PARELES
Jerry Garcia, whose gentle voice and gleaming, chiming guitar lines embodied the psychedelic optimism of the Grateful Dead for three decades, died in his sleep yesterday at Serenity Knolls, a residential drug' treatment center in Forest Knolls, Calif. He was 53.
A spokesman for the band, Dennis McNally, said the cause was a heart attack.
The guitarist had suffered serious health problems for a decade. In the 1960's, he was known as Captain Trips, referring to his frequent use of LSD, and he struggled through the years with heroin addiction. He was hospitalized in 1986 in a diabetic coma, and in 1992 the group had to cancel tour dates when Mr. Garcia fell ill from exhaustion. In recent years, he had tried to stop smoking and lose weight.
The Grateful Dead, and Mr. Garcia as their most recognizable member, had come to represent the survival of 1960's idealism. As news of his death spread, fans wept in the streets of San Francisco and the Internet was flooded with eulogies and reminiscences. Within the music business, the Dead exemplified integrity in a sphere of hype and artifice; beyond the industry, they symbolized a spirit of communal bliss, with free-wheeling, anything-can happen music to bring together a community of tenacious fans, the Deadheads.
The band's future is uncertain; the Dead had planned to record their newest songs in a studio for an album to be released next year.
The Grateful Dead were one of rock's most beloved institutions. Formed in 1965, when a Bay Area jug band decided to switch to electric instruments, the Dead created an all-American fusion of bluegrass, blues, country, rhythm-and-blues, folk and rock, all laced with improvisation. The band never played a song the same way twice.
The Dead built their reputation on long, free-form concerts, going onstage without a set list and playing anything from original songs to rock oldies to extended experiments with feedback. The music could shift in any direction as it sought what the band and its fans called the "X factor": spontaneous, revelatory stretches of music arrived at through practice and serendipity.
Its fans savored the group's unpredictability, seeing as many concerts as possible and sometimes following the band for a full-length tour. For most of the 1980's and early 1990's, the band toured stadiums and did not play to a single empty seat; some concerts sold out before they were advertised, purely through announcements in the Deadheads' newsletter.
Unlike the vast majority of rock bands, the Dead concentrated on performing rather than recording. Even as a stadium attraction, the Grateful Dead were something like an old-time jug band, barnstorming a territory that stretched around the world.
Mr. Garcia was at the heart of the Dead's music. His reedy voice was unassumingly sincere; his guitar tone was pristine and bell-like, as he spun long, leisurely lines with distinctive curlicues and downward slides. He wrote about half of the Dead's own material, working primarily with the lyricist Robert Hunter, and many of his finest tunes-- such as "Ripple," "Touch of Grey," "China Cat Sunflower" and "Uncle John's Band"--sounded as natural as traditional songs. Mr. Garcia's smiling, bearded face became an icon of a utopian 1960's spirit.
Jerome John Garcia was born in San Francisco on Aug. 1, 1942. His father was a professional musician, and he took piano lessons as a child. But he lost most of the third finger on his right hand in a childhood accident. When he was 15, he heard Chuck Berry and took up the electric guitar. After nine months in the Army, he turned to folk music, picking up the banjo and playing in bluegrass bands; he also studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. By 1964, he was in Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, which also included Bob Weir on guitar and Ron (Pigpen) McKernan on harmonica.
A year later, with Phil Lesh on bass and Bill Kreutzmann on drums the band plugged in and became the Warlocks. At first, they worked as a bar band, playing blues six nights a week. Then the Warlocks became the house band for Ken Kesey's Acid Tests, the public LSD parties held before the drug was outlawed. By 1966, the Warlocks had changed their name to the Grateful Dead--a type of British folk ballad in which a human being helps a ghost find peace -- after running across the phrase in a dictionary.
The Dead lived communally in San Francisco and played many free concerts, soon working their way up to the city's ballrooms and the Fillmore West. The band signed a contract with MGM Records in 1966, but its efforts were shelved. In 1967, the Dead signed with Warner Brothers, and while their first albums sold modestly, their reputation spread. From the beginning, when the band was financed by the LSD chemist Stanley Owsley, the Dead were known for the latest in sound systems as well as for their music. The group performed at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and at Woodstock in 1969.
By 1970, the Grateful Dead had made five extraordinary albums in a row: "Anthem of the Sun" in 1968, "Aoxomoxoa" in 1969 and "Live Dead," "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty" in 1970. Its 1971 live album, "Grateful Dead," became its first million-seller, and it continued to play to larger and larger audiences. In 1973, it was one of the three groups (with the Allman Brothers Band and the Band) to perform for half a million people at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Mr. Garcia also worked outside the Grateful Dead, as a musician and a producer. He recorded with the Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young; he produced the first album by the New Riders of the Purple Sage, adding parts on an instrument he was just learning, the pedal steel guitar.
Outside the Dead, Mr. Garcia pursued some of the styles that were tucked into the Dead's music. In the early 1970's, he played jazz-rock with the keyboardist Merl Saunders and bluegrass with a group called Old and in the Way; he also recorded his first album as a leader in 1971, playing rock songs tinged with country. Through the years, he toured (between Grateful Dead tours) with his own band, and he collaborated with musicians including the keyboardist Howard Wales and the mandolinist David Grisman. His most recent recording, released in 1993, was an album of children's music, "Not for Kids Only." In another recent project, Mr. Garcia designed a line of neckties that was sold at Macy's.
Yet most of his time was devoted to the Grateful Dead. While the band had touched on funk and jazz, and had incorporated some of the new sounds made available through synthesizer technology, its music remained immediately recognizable, with a folksy, homespun tone that belied the size of its audiences. Grateful Dead concerts are among least overbearing in current rock; the band's customized sound systems emphasize clarity and warmth, not sheer volume. Through the years, the Dead's tour circuit expanded, including a 1978 series of shows at the Great Pyramid in Egypt;. the band toured with Bob Dylan in 1987 a collaboration that resulted in a live album. The band weathered the deaths of Mr. McKernan in 1973 as well as the deaths of two of its keyboardists, Keith Godchaux and Brent Mydland.
Since the 1970's, the band has attracted a significant following of Deadheads, which expanded further in the 1980's as the sons and daughters of baby boomers embraced the band as a symbol of 1960's pleasures and hopes. The Dead made an effort to treat their fans well. Unlike many bands, the Dead encouraged their fans to tape their concerts, even providing a place near the sound engineer's booth for fans to set up microphones and tape recorders. The group also kept ticket prices low and maintained contact with fans through the newsletter and, more recently, electronic mail. In return the Dead have held on to what is probably the longest-lasting mass following in rock history.
In tie-dyed clothes and bare feet, dancing in the aisles, the Dead's audiences revived the wardrobe, and perhaps some of the hopefulness, of the Summer of Love. In an interview for Joe Smith's book "Off the Record" (1988), Mr. Garcia said "To the kids today, the Grateful Dead represents America: the spirit of being able to go out and have an: adventure."
He is survived by his third wife, Deborah Koons Garcia, and by four daughters: Heather, Annabelle, Teresa and Keelin, all of Marin County.
Photo of Jerry Garcia, top right, and other Grateful Dead members in the late 60's in San Francisco. With him, from top left, are Phil Lesh and Billy Kreutzmann, and bottom, Bob Weir and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
On His Own and With Friends
The Grateful Dead are generally acknowledged to be at their consistent best in the late 1960's and early 70's, though there are superb moments on nearly every album. Here is a selection of albums by Jerry Garcia with the band and as a solo act.
Grateful Dead 1967
Anthem of the Sun 1968
Live Dead 1970
Workingman's Dead 1970
American Beauty 1970
The Grateful Dead 1971
Europe '72 1972
Wake of the Flood 1973
Best of the Grateful Dead--Skeletons From the Closet 1974
The Grateful Dead From the
Mars Hotel 1974
Blues for Allah 1975
Terrapin Station 1977
Shakedown Street 1978
Dead Reckoning 1981
In the Dark 1987
Built to Last 1989
One From the Vault 1991
Dick's Picks, Volume 1 1993.
Merl Saunders, Jerry Garcia, .John Kahn, Bill Vitt: Live at the Keystone 1973
Cats Under the Stars 1978
Run for the Roses 1982
Jerry Garcia Band 1991
Jerry Garcia-David Grisman 1991
Not For Kids Only 1993.
Copyright 1995 The Daily Telegraph plc
The Daily Telegraph
August 10, 1995, Thursday
Founder of Grateful Dead dies of heart attack at 53
By John Hiscock in Los Angeles
JERRY Garcia, white-bearded leader of the 1960s cult rock band the Grateful Dead, died yesterday in a drug rehabilitation centre. The 53-year-old erstwhile hippie who founded the band 30 years ago was discovered dead by a counsellor at Serenity Knowles, a residential drug treatment centre near his home in Marin County, California. A nurse and sheriff's department staff tried in vain to revive him.
Dennis McNally, the band's spokesman, said last night that Garcia died of a heart attack, but he did not know why he was at the centre. He said:
"It was news to me. I thought he was going to Hawaii. Apparently he was paying increased attention to his health."
The Grateful Dead's most recent performance was on July 9 in Chicago.
The shaggy-haired guitarist had a long history of drug use involving cocaine, heroin and LSD. Ten years ago he went into a diabetic coma for several days and then three years ago he again lapsed into a near-fatal coma suffering from obesity-related diabetes. At the time he weighed more than 21st and smoked 60 cigarettes a day.
Doctors reported that his heart was enlarged and his lungs congested.
McNally said at the time:
"It was a melt down. Too many cigarettes, too much junk food and too little exercise."
Since then Garcia said he was attempting to lose weight and cut down on his smoking and drug use. He said recently:
"I feel much younger and have a lot more vitality."
He married his third wife, film-maker Deborah Koons, last year. He has three grown-up daughters from his previous marriages.
The Grateful Dead had its roots in San Francisco's 1960s psychedelic scene and combined rock, bluegrass and folk influences. It has long been one of the most popular acts in the United States, grossing tens of millions of dollars each year.
Garcia's death will be mourned by "Deadheads" around the world - the vast following of devoted fans who attend every concert, trade tapes of shows and flood the group's two hotlines with 1,000 calls a day.
At the time of Garcia's death he was planning an autumn concert tour of the US.
Born Jerome John Garcia, he was the son of a bandleader. He dropped out of high school and worked as a salesman and a teacher before forming the Warlocks rock group in 1965. The following year the Warlocks became the Grateful Dead.
Among their best known songs were Truckin', Casey Jones, and Friend of the Devil. Their only top 10 hit was the 1987 song Touch of Grey in 1987.
Copyright 1995 The Times Mirror Company
Los Angeles Times
August 10, 1995, Thursday, Electronic Edition
JERRY GARCIA, GRATEFUL DEAD FOUNDER, DIES
BYLINE: By STEVE HOCHMAN, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES
Grateful Dead founder Jerry Garcia, the enduring musical guru for legions of loyal fans over four decades, died early Wednesday morning, just a week after his 53rd birthday.
Garcia died of an apparent heart attack while under treatment at a drug rehabilitation facility in Novato, Calif., where he was reportedly attempting to end a recurring heroin habit. His body was found in his room by a counselor at the Serenity Knolls drug rehabilitation center at 4:23 a.m. Attempts to revive him failed.
Grateful Dead spokesman Dennis McNally said the surviving band members were "all in shock." They declined to give interviews.
"We loved the man and he's gone," McNally said. "The one thing I'm clinging on to is that when he went into the facility, he didn't tell any of us. He just wanted to regain his health. He went out wanting to get healthy and making a commitment to his art. That's the way I'm going to remember him."
Contemporary musicians joined fans, known worldwide as "Deadheads," in mourning the serene singer and guitarist.
"There's no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player," said singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, who has toured with the Grateful Dead. "He really had no equal. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There's no way to convey the loss."
Garcia's death leaves uncertain the future of the most direct musical and cultural link to San Francisco's 1960s hippie heyday. Through the intervening years and sweeping social upheavals, the Dead and its following not only have survived but flourished.
That phenomenon was evident in the thousands of tie-dye-clad fans -- youths and adults -- who followed the band from show to show across the country, reveling in a communal spirit and the band's lithe, long improvisational mix of rock, blues, country and folk. To those who were not fans, the attraction of a Grateful Dead show was a mystery. But to those who were, it was a near-religious event.
A live Grateful Dead album, titled "Hundred Year Hall" and recorded last year in Germany, had been tentatively scheduled for release in October, and the group had been working on its first album of new studio recordings since 1989. The status of both projects is now uncertain.
Many fans and associates Wednesday said that they could not imagine the Dead continuing without Garcia, but McNally said that no decision about the band's future would be made immediately. The group has survived other deaths -- Ron (Pigpen) McKernan of liver disease in 1972; his replacement, Keith Godchaux, in a car crash shortly after leaving the band in 1980, and his successor, Brent Mydland, of a drug overdose in 1989.
The gray-bearded, Buddha-like Garcia had a long history of health problems stemming from a combination of drug use, cigarette smoking, diabetes, an inability to keep his weight in check and the stress of the grueling tour schedule of the Grateful Dead.
Year after year, Dead tours have ranked among the top concert attractions in the United States. In 1994 the group grossed $52.4 million in concerts, ranking that trek as the eighth biggest such tour in the United States. Through the first half of 1995, grosses reached $29.3 million.
In 1986 Garcia nearly died after lapsing into a diabetes-related coma. He made attempts after that to improve his health, taking up scuba-diving and improving his diet, but his efforts were inconsistent. A 1991 tour was postponed after Garcia collapsed from exhaustion.
In a 1991 interview with The Times, Garcia commented on the tolls of his fast-paced life, which was a marked contrast to his easygoing music and stage persona.
"I'm constantly dealing with my own limits," he said. "If I choose to take it seriously, it's way too much on every level. Too much responsibility, too much work and everything. (But) it happens that I love it too. It's still fun. As long as I still love it, I have no intention of doing anything to make it stop. . . . If someone makes music illegal, they'll have to drag me off the stage kicking and screaming."
Garcia's stay in the rehab center was in preparation for the band's planned fall tour, which had been scheduled to begin next month and was to include shows Oct. 14 and 15 in Devore.
His final show with the Dead was July 9 at Chicago's Soldier Field, concluding a spring tour that had been marred by several incidents involving fans, including a rock-throwing confrontation with police in Noblesville, Ind., and injuries to a hundred Deadheads camping out before a concert in Wentzville, Mo., when a porch they were dancing on collapsed.
Those were unfortunate footnotes to Garcia and the Dead's legacy. Their huge following not only made the group a cultural icon, but put it at the center of an unlikely financial empire in which its communal roots and values translated into capitalist success. In addition to concerts and recordings, the group has a thriving business marketing colorful T-shirts and other paraphernalia -- and there is even a line of neckties based on Garcia's abstract paintings, even though ties were anathema to his casual wardrobe.
Born Aug. 1, 1942, in San Francisco as Jerome John Garcia, the son of a bandleader, he was active in the Bay Area folk and bluegrass scene of the early '60s and founded a rock band called the Warlocks in 1965.
The next year the group -- at the time including guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, keyboard player McKernan and drummer Bill Kreutzmann -- became the Grateful Dead and was established as the house band for the psychedelic, drug-fueled "Acid Test" parties, as chronicled in Tom Wolfe's book "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test."
The group signed to Warner Bros. Records and released its first album in 1967. Perhaps the best albums were the early-'70s, country-flavored releases "Workingman's Dead" and "American Beauty," with Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter crafting songs that tapped into the American frontier and underdog ethos.
But fans generally agree that no recordings ever captured the feeling of a concert, even the numerous concert recordings. Its live shows made the Dead a legend -- as summed up in the oft-used, fan-coined slogan, "There's nothing like a Grateful Dead concert."
At the center was always Garcia's fluid guitar playing, weaving a tapestry as colorful as the fans' garb. The music at the shows, often held in festival-type settings, often devolved into unstructured jams that served as a sinewy soundtrack for a vivid tableau of free-form dancing fans.
Though albums became more sporadic after the '70s, one, "In the Dark" in 1987, spawned the band's only Top 10 hit. The song, "Touch of Grey," featured the Garcia-sung chorus proclaiming "I will survive."
Garcia often toured with his side project, the Jerry Garcia Band, helping Deadheads fill the time between Dead treks. Garcia also was active in the group's Rex Foundation, a philanthropic organization that gave grants to a variety of cultural, social and environmental efforts.
"The Grateful Dead and Jerry have been the one band that has been about not just the music but the socialization of people, allowing people to assemble and escape the drudgery of everyday life and experience joy, true joy," said Gregg Perloff, president of the concert promotions firm Bill Graham Presents. The history of the company, founded in San Francisco by the late Bill Graham, was tied directly to the Dead, producing virtually all the band's shows, including annual New Year's Eve concerts and 1978 dates at the foot of the Great Pyramid in Egypt.
"What a lot of people around the country realized today was that this (the Dead culture) was not about one segment of our society," Perloff said. "Whether a 15-year-old student or a 45-year-old lawyer, there were so many people who would get out of their suits and ties and follow the Dead."
And what becomes of the hard-core Deadheads now, assuming that Garcia's death means the end of the Grateful Dead?
"I think they're going to have to get lives now," said Toni Brown, publisher of Brooklyn-based Relix magazine, which is devoted to the Grateful Dead and related music and cultural issues. "The band always felt that there was more to life than just them, and people are going to have to face reality. It was great to be able to make the Grateful Dead your reality, but there's more to it than that."
In 1991, though, Garcia spoke of plans to postpone that inevitability as long as possible, noting the longevity of many of his blues, country and jazz heroes.
"I went to see (jazz violinist) Stephane Grapelli and he's 83," he said. "You see these guys and you say, 'Goddamn right!' If I can, then yeah, if I'm alive and moving, I'll be playing."
Garcia is survived by his third wife, Marin County filmmaker Deborah Koons, whom he married last year; and four daughters, Heather, 32, Annabelle, 25, Teresa, 21, and Keelin, 7.
Plans for private funeral services or public memorial observances were incomplete.