Grateful Salute to a Dead Legend…

As Jerome John Garcia’s birthday recently passed and the anniversary of his passing rapidly approaches, I felt that the DAYS BETWEEN are the perfect opportunity to reflect on a few trivial, emotional and extraordinary facts about my own love affair with my favorite guitar playing musician.


1st JG/GD song I ever heard: Casey Jones

1st song I ever memorized all the lyrics by heart: Friend of the Devil

1st song I learned to play on the piano: Uncle John’s Band

1st live version of a song I ever heard (though on the radio): Shakedown Street

1st song I ever heard live: Touch of Grey

1st Encore I ever heard at a live show: Brokedown Palace

1st Live Venue: The Spectrum, Philadelphia

1st Live Show Date: October 20, 1989

1st Cover Ever Heard Live: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again (Bob Dylan)

1st Album I Ever Bought: American Beauty

2nd Album I Ever Bought: Workingman’s Dead

Song I Requested DJ at Maloney’s (Margate) to Play on my 26th Birthday – Eyes of the World

2nd Song I Requested When DJ Told Me He Didn’t Have First Song:  Brown Eyed Woman

Song I Settled On After Asking DJ To Name All Dead Songs He Did Have (he had only 2 BTW): Shakedown Street

Live Album I Have Listened to Most, Including Dick’s Picks: Without A Net

Total Live Shows Attended (While Jerry Was Alive): 27


Where I was when I heard Jerry had passed: Summer following my college graduation, had just returned from a trip cross country and was moving to New York

1st Song I Played following the News: Standing on the Moon

Lyric that particularly reminds me of Jerry from that song:

Somewhere in San Francisco
On a back porch in July
Just looking up to heaven
At this crescent in the sky

Song I Most Associate With Jerry: Althea, mostly due to a terrific interview of Jerry by Greg Harrington in 1981 as they share multiple joints

Favorite Song Today that I Didn’t Care Much for When I First Started Listening to The Dead: Wharf Rat

Cover and Jerry Moment I Will Always Remember: Jerry Laughing Audibly As He Belted Out the Lyrics to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

First Dance at My Wedding: They Love Each Other – thanks again to Drew T and the band for jamming it out perfectly


Of my 27 Live Shows, The Grateful Dead played Truckin’ 21 (78%) times and Sugar Magnolia 20 (74%) times. The next most frequently played song (Not including Drums/Space) was Touch of Grey, 12 times (44%)

I saw 4 different Keyboardists over the course of my 27 shows: Brent Mydland, Vince Welnick, Steve Winwood and Bruce Hornsby – This is not overly surprising if you know the curse of the Grateful Dead keyboardists

Jerry began his musical training learning piano, like his father. His first foray into stringed instruments was the banjo

Jerry lost his right middle finger at the age of 4 after suffering an accident while steadying wood his brother was chopping with an axe – so if Jerry ever gave someone the finger…he actually gave them THE finger

Jerry was dubbed by Rolling Stone magazine as the 13th greatest guitarist in history in 2003 – Imagine where he would rank on that list if he had 10 fingers like the 12 men ahead of him

Jerry’s funeral took place at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church

If you are into numerology, 8 was a very important number in the life and death of Jerry:

There is a span of 8 days between Jerry’s birthday and the anniversary of his death

He lived 53 years, and when the numerals are added together, they total 8

His music career spanned 35 years, and again, when you add the numerals, they total 8

There are 16 total letters in Jerry’s full name, a multiple of 8

Jerry named his first child Heather, the first letter in her name, H, is the 8th letter in the alphabet

When Jerry died, his band lived on without the word Grateful, as The Dead. Grateful has 8 letters

And Jerry came into this world and left it in August, the 8th month in our calendar year. August 9th 2011 will mark the 16th anniversary of Jerry’s death…a multiple of 8

You are missed Jerry. I hope you are that headlight, shining though the cool Colorado rain.

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