Jerry Garcia Tribute


On August 9, 1995 : Jerry Garcia dies at the age of 53.

On March 8, 1973 Ron McKernan (Pigpen) dies at the age of 27.
On July 23, 1980 Keith Godchaux dies at the age of 32.
On July 27, 1990 Brent Myland dies at the age of 38.

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"There's no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player. I don't think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great - much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is muddy river country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal. To me he wasn't only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he'll ever know. There are a lot of spaces and advances between the Carter Family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There's no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep." - Bob Dylan

And so felt the world, on August 9, 1995 when the news was announced that Jerry Garcia had passed away in his sleep from a heart attack at Serenity Knolls Substance Abuse Clinic in California. "Dead Heads," as fans of the Grateful Dead were known, were devastated, as the rest of the world, those not even familiar with Dead songs, felt his absence. Strangers talked to strangers, fans comforted fans and people gathered to mourn with each other around the world. We were emersed in our own tears at the loss of this giant, who played only for the sheer fun, the awesome delight of the magic produced by pleasing his fans with the sounds of his fingers strumming the chords.

Never has a band had such a long time following by so many committed fans. Producing thirty one albums in 28 years, the Dead were not only known for their unique concerts (long, spacey, infrequently repeated songs that produced positive, high energy), merchandising resulting from the Dead included tape trading clubs, clothing, designer ties, eyewear, and even a Ben and Gerry's ice cream flavor (Cherry Garcia) in 1987.

Songs that fell into the mainstream included Touch of Grey, Truckin' , Alabama Getaway and Casey Jones. Their style was blue grass, country jazz rock with long, magical pieces that mesmerized and excited fans to follow to group across counties, regions, states - across the country and, even across international boundaries. No obstacles existed to hard core fans, who traveled extensively to participate in what Garcia had referred to as 'gold, pure magic.'

Just after dawn on April 4, 1996 Garcia's ashes were sprinkled down the Ganges river 155 miles north of New Dehli by Deborah Koons Garcia and Bob Weir, the idea of which came to Weir in a dream. April 4 is known in India as Budh Purnima, Buddha's birthday and day of a full moon. It's also the same day the Buddha reached nirvana, the escape from the endless cycle of reincarnation. Garcia's brief ceremony initiated after the total eclipse of the moon, which took place from about 4:30 to 6:00 am.

Weir and Koons immersed themselves in the Ganges and let their garlands float away, after which followed a simple ceremony with poems, flowers and prayers. In the final moments, as his ashes were scattered into the river sending him on his way to another life, Bob Weir's farewell was the simple wish "May you have peace, Jerry, and travel to the stars.''

Jerry's remaining ashes were scattered in the San Francisco Bay on the morning of April 15, 1996.

A small gathering of friends and family listened to poems written by Mickey Hart and Robert Hunter. Each of his closest associates and daughters scooped handfuls overboard, after which flowers were scattered on the water under foggy, drizzling rain.

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