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Jerry Garcia was interviewed by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association on April 28, 1995, at the Grateful Dead office in San Rafael, California.

This is the full unscripted interview. Jerry discusses his early days before the founding of the Grateful Dead: mentors, living in an old Cadillac, LSD, and the death of a friend that was the seminal point in becoming a full-time musician. He passed away three months later on August 9, 1995. This was his last known filmed interview before his death.

Jerry Garcia was a highly influential American musician, singer, and songwriter, best known as the lead guitarist and one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead, a legendary rock band formed in 1965. He was born on August 1, 1942, in San Francisco, California, and passed away on August 9, 1995, in Forest Knolls, California, at the age of 53.

Garcia’s musical journey began at a young age when he learned to play the piano, and later picked up the guitar and banjo. He was deeply influenced by folk, blues, and bluegrass music, and his eclectic taste in music would be a significant part of the Grateful Dead’s style, fusing elements of rock, folk, psychedelic, and improvisational music.

In 1965, Garcia co-founded the Grateful Dead with Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh, and Bill Kreutzmann. The band quickly became a central figure in the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Their live performances were legendary for their improvisational jams, and they built a massive and devoted fanbase, known as “Deadheads.”

Apart from his work with the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia was involved in various side projects and collaborations with other musicians. He played with bands such as the Jerry Garcia Band, Old & In the Way, and Legion of Mary. Throughout his career, he showcased his versatile guitar skills and distinctive voice, creating a significant impact on the world of rock music.

Garcia’s contributions to the music world earned him recognition as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. His ability to weave intricate guitar solos and his soulful singing style set him apart as a unique and influential artist. He was also a talented songwriter and co-wrote many of the Grateful Dead’s most beloved songs.

Unfortunately, Jerry Garcia’s life was marked by struggles with drug addiction and health issues, particularly with his heart. Tragically, he passed away in 1995 due to a heart attack while at a drug treatment center.

Despite his untimely death, Jerry Garcia’s legacy lives on through the enduring popularity of the Grateful Dead’s music, which continues to inspire countless musicians and fans around the world. The band’s iconic “Deadhead” culture remains a symbol of unity, peace, and a celebration of the love for music and community.

 

 

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Patrick Zarrelli

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