90 Facts About Jerry Garcia


Jerome John Garcia was an American musician best known for being the principal songwriter, lead guitarist, and a vocalist with the rock band Grateful Dead, which he co-founded and which came to prominence during the counterculture of the 1960s.


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


Jerry Garcia released several solo albums, and contributed to a number of albums by other artists over the years as a session musician.


Jerry Garcia was well known for his distinctive guitar playing, and was ranked 13th in Rolling Stones "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" cover story in 2003.


Jerry Garcia was renowned for his musical and technical ability, particularly his ability to play a variety of instruments and sustain long improvisations.


Jerry Garcia believed that improvisation took stress away from his playing and allowed him to make spur of the moment decisions that he would not have made intentionally.


Jerry Garcia was born in the Excelsior District of San Francisco, California, on August 1,1942, to Jose Ramon "Joe" Garcia and Ruth Marie "Bobbie" Garcia, who was herself born in San Francisco.


Jerry Garcia was influenced by music at an early age, taking piano lessons for much of his childhood.


Jerry Garcia's father was a retired professional musician and his mother enjoyed playing the piano.


Jerry Garcia later confessed that he often used it to his advantage in his youth, showing it off to other children in his neighborhood.


Jerry Garcia slipped after entering the Trinity River, part of the Six Rivers National Forest, and drowned before other fishermen could reach him.


Blair Jackson, who wrote Garcia: An American Life, notes that a local newspaper article describing Jose's death did not mention Jerry being present when he died.


Jerry Garcia began working full-time there, sending Jerry and his brother to live nearby with her parents, Tillie and William Clifford.


However, due to the roughneck reputation of their neighborhood at the time, Jerry Garcia's mother moved their family to Menlo Park.


Clifford often memorized the vocals for his favorite songs, and would then make Jerry Garcia learn the harmony parts, a move to which Jerry Garcia later attributed much of his early ear training.


In mid-1957, Jerry Garcia began smoking cigarettes and was introduced to marijuana.


At San Francisco Art Institute, Jerry Garcia was taught by Wally Hedrick, an artist who came to prominence during the 1960s.


Jerry Garcia then moved with his family back to San Francisco, where they lived in an apartment above the family bar, a newly built replacement for the original, which had been torn down to make way for a freeway entrance.


Jerry Garcia had long been captivated by many rhythm and blues artists, especially Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley, leaving him craving an electric guitar.


Jerry Garcia did join a band at his school known as the Chords.


Jerry Garcia stole his mother's car in 1960 and was given the option of joining the US Army in lieu of prison.


Jerry Garcia spent most of his time in the army at his leisure, missing roll call and accruing many counts of being AWOL.


In January 1961, Jerry Garcia drove to East Palo Alto to see Laird Grant, an old friend from middle school.


Jerry Garcia had purchased a 1950 Cadillac sedan from a cook in the army, which barely made it to Grant's residence before it broke down.


Jerry Garcia spent the next few weeks sleeping where friends would allow, eventually using his car as a home.


On February 20,1961, Jerry Garcia got into a car with Paul Speegle, a sixteen-year-old artist and acquaintance of Jerry Garcia; Lee Adams, the house manager of the Chateau and driver of the car; and Alan Trist, a companion of theirs.


Jerry Garcia was hurled through the windshield of the car into a nearby field with such force that he was literally dislodged from his shoes and later unable to recall the ejection.


Jerry Garcia escaped with a broken collarbone, while Speegle, still in the car, was fatally injured.


Jerry Garcia performed his first concert with Hunter, each earning five dollars.


In 1962, Jerry Garcia met Phil Lesh, the eventual bassist of the Grateful Dead, during a party in Menlo Park's bohemian Perry Lane neighborhood.


Lesh would later write in his autobiography that Jerry Garcia reminded him of pictures he had seen of the composer Claude Debussy, with his "dark, curly hair, goatee, Impressionist eyes".


Jerry Garcia soon began playing and teaching acoustic guitar and banjo.


One of Jerry Garcia's students was Bob Matthews, who later engineered many of the Grateful Dead's albums.


Between 1962 and 1964, Jerry Garcia sang and performed mainly bluegrass, old-time, and folk music.


One of the bands Jerry Garcia performed with was the Sleepy Hollow Hog Stompers, a bluegrass act.


Jerry Garcia served as lead guitarist and one of the principal vocalists and songwriters of the Grateful Dead for the band's entire career.


Jerry Garcia was known for his "soulful extended guitar improvisations", which would frequently feature interplay between him and his fellow band members.


Jerry Garcia melded elements from the various kinds of music that influenced him.


Jerry Garcia was a 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.


Jerry Garcia 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.


Jerry Garcia 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 Jerry Garcia's help included the likes of Jefferson Airplane.


In 1995 Jerry Garcia played on three tracks for the CD Blue Incantation by guitarist Sanjay Mishra, making it his last studio collaboration.


In 1970, Jerry Garcia participated in the soundtrack for the film Zabriskie Point.


Jerry Garcia played pedal steel guitar for 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.


Jerry Garcia appears as a band member on their debut album New Riders of the Purple Sage, and produced Home, Home on the Road, a 1974 live album by the band.


In 1988, Jerry Garcia agreed to perform at several major benefits including the "Soviet American Peace Walk" concert at the Band Shell, in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, that drew 25,000 people.


Jerry Garcia was asked to play by longtime friend and fellow musician, Pete Sears, who played piano with all the bands that day, and procured all the other musicians.


Jerry Garcia played with Nick Gravenites and Pete Sears at a benefit given for Vietnam Veteran and peace activist Brian Willson, who lost both legs below the knee when he attempted to block a train carrying weapons to military dictatorships in El Salvador.


Jerry Garcia created a number of drawings, etchings, and water colors.


Jerry Garcia was an early adopter of digital art media; his artistic style was as varied as his musical output, and he carried small notebooks for pen and ink sketches wherever he toured.


Jerry Garcia's artwork has since expanded into everything from hotel rooms, wet suits, men's sport shirts, a women's wear line, boxer shorts, hair accessories, cummerbunds, silk scarves and wool rugs.


Jerry Garcia was working at the coffee house in the back of Kepler's Books, where Garcia, Hunter, and Nelson regularly performed.


In 1994, Carolyn and Jerry Garcia officially divorced after a long separation.


Jerry Garcia, who was recording the album American Beauty at the time, often left the sessions to visit his mother with his brother Clifford.


Jerry Garcia was a Kentucky-born member of the extended "Grateful Dead family", and the mistress of Texas oil heir Roy Cullen.


Adams and Jerry Garcia were married on December 31,1981, largely as a result of mutual tax exigencies.


In 1991, Jerry Garcia expressed his delight in finding the time to "actually be a father" to Keelin in contrast to his past relationships with his children.


Meier claimed that Jerry Garcia had considered her to be the "love of his life" and proposed to her during a Hawaiian vacation shortly after their relationship recommenced.


Jerry Garcia ended the affair with Meier forty-five days later while on tour in Chicago with the Grateful Dead after she confronted him about his drug use.


Shortly thereafter, Jerry Garcia renewed his acquaintance with Deborah Koons in the spring of 1993.


Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan were apprehended on marijuana charges which were later dropped, although Jerry Garcia himself was not arrested.


Approximately fifteen people were arrested on the spot, including many of the road crew, management, and nearly all of the Grateful Dead except for Jerry Garcia, who arrived later, outgoing keyboardist Tom Constanten, who abstained from all drugs as a member of the Church of Scientology, and McKernan, who eschewed illegal drugs in favor of alcohol.


However, as the band continued through 1991, Jerry Garcia became concerned with the band's future.


Jerry Garcia was exhausted from five straight years of touring.


Jerry Garcia thought a break was necessary, mainly so that the band could come back with fresh material.


Jerry Garcia began using heroin again after several years of intermittent prescription opiate use.


Jerry Garcia said that he wanted to clean up in his own way, and return to making music.


Jerry Garcia recovered over the following days, despite the Grateful Dead having to cancel their fall tour to allow him time to recuperate.


Jerry Garcia began to use narcotics again to dull the pain.


In light of his second drug relapse and current condition, Jerry Garcia checked himself into the Betty Ford Center during July 1995.


Jerry Garcia died in his room at the rehabilitation clinic on August 9,1995.


Koons did not allow former wife Carolyn Jerry Garcia to attend the spreading of the ashes.


Jerry Garcia played many guitars during his career, which ranged from student and budget models to custom-made instruments.


In 1965, when Jerry Garcia was playing with the Warlocks, he used a Guild Starfire, which he used on the debut album of the Grateful Dead.


Jerry Garcia played on the latter album in exchange for harmony lessons for the Grateful Dead, who were at the time recording Workingman's Dead.


In May, Jerry Garcia began using a 1955 natural finish Stratocaster that had been given to him by Graham Nash in 1969.


Jerry Garcia added an alligator sticker to the pickguard in the fall of 1971, and the thusly-named "Alligator" would remain Jerry Garcia's principal electric guitar until August 1973.


In late 1972, Jerry Garcia purchased the first guitar made by Alembic luthier Doug Irwin for $850.


Jerry Garcia later had Irwin replace the electronics inside the guitar, at which point he added his own logo to the headstock alongside the Alembic logo.


Jerry Garcia first employed the instrument in concert at a Grateful Dead performance at the Oakland Auditorium Arena on August 4,1979.


Jerry Garcia 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.


Jerry Garcia bought it from him for $6,500, making it the first guitar that Cripe had ever sold.


However, infatuated with Lightning Bolt, Jerry Garcia rarely used the backup.


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


Jerry Garcia declined to attend the ceremony; the band jokingly brought a cardboard cutout of Garcia out on stage in his absence.


The first show to happen at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater was Jerry Day 2005 on August 7,2005.


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


In 2015, Hunter and Jerry Garcia were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.


In 2017 Jerry Garcia's music was featured in Red Roses, Green Gold, an off-Broadway musical featuring the music of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, with additional music by Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Hunter's longtime collaborator Greg Anton.