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Published: 2012/08/01

Reflections: Jerry Garcia’s Life and Legacy (Keller Williams, Jackie Greene, Marc Brownstein…)

Over the next 9 days between the anniversary of Jerry’s birth on August 1, 1942 through his untimely death on August 9, 1995, we’re going to run a series of artists’ commentaries on the life and legacy of Jerry Garcia. Our first six appear below. Additional Reflections appear today on


I would say that Jerry’s impact on me is quite broad and his influence on my music is significant. Not only the music of which his guitar phrasing is hard for me to avoid in my own playing. Or in his vocal style that my brain began to absorb in my late teens which I feel is the peak age of brain absorption. The vulnerability in his voice made me believe that he and I understood each other, and that we were on the same trip even though we never met. But his love of playing live and feeling the energy of an audience is where I feel we are now most connected.

Stand out shows, for me, were The Warlocks Hampton shows in ‘89, as well as the Alpine Valley shows that year. The “Standing on the Moon” from Alpine Valley is quite memorable.

My favorite songs would be “Bird Song,” “Don’t Let Go” and the cover of “So What He Did” with the Grisman Band. Ask me tomorrow and I will name three different songs—there are so many that are THAT good. These are just what I’m thinking about today.


One of the marks of a true original is the amount of imitators that follow in the wake. One of the other marks of a true original is that none of the imitators ever come close. I/we are so blessed that an artist like Jerry came along at the right time to become a star so we could all hear and celebrate the music that the universe needed to make through him! How many great artists don’t get that kind of platform? Thank you, Jerry! Still echoing….


Like Dylan and the Stones, the Grateful Dead’s impact on music and culture is incalculable. Jerry Garcia was one of the most gifted artists the world has ever known. He possessed the unique ability to play and sing his music with an honest and true spirit that still rings true to this day. I believe that’s what attracts me the most to his songs—his spirit.

As a writing duo, the Garcia/Hunter team ranks up there with Page/Plant, Lennon/McCartney and Leiber/Stoller. They created some truly timeless songs.

Personally, I feel that many of my songs come from the same fundamental place. The music of the Grateful Dead has been a welcome influence in my life and work. It’s hard to choose a favorite Jerry song. There are literally dozens I could name as favorites. For now, I’ll say “Sugaree.” It’s mesmerizing every time I hear it.


When I think of Jerry Garcia I get a big smile! The songs that he sang with such conviction along with his band mates in the Grateful Dead, brought a 60s generation together and kept transcending generations on and on! They should send Workingman’s Dead to the moon!


I was watching Sting open up for the Dead at Rich Stadium in Buffalo back in the early nineties. It made no sense to me how such a huge superstar was playing to an empty stadium. Then, all of a sudden, I hear a cheer and the whole place fills up and I ask the guy next to me what’s going on. He says, “It’s Jerry, he’s about to come out and sit in with Sting.” Low and behold, there he is, larger than life, right there, magically and instantly filling a stadium up with happy dancing heads. It was amazing. To this day I am still amazed at how 80k people knew exactly when and where they needed to be.


There are 5 comments associated with this post

TCinNYC August 2, 2012, 15:43:07

I think of songs like “Wharf Rat” “Loser” “China Doll” “Comes a Time”, “Althea” as the songs that hooked me for life. The words and music are awe inspiring & to this day still make an impression on me. Miss you Jerry!!

Richcapone August 8, 2012, 21:06:26

I have dream about once a week and there’s Jerry playing talking teaching to me and everyone else out there —thank you for the dreams

Jay August 9, 2012, 21:37:49

My first show was April, 6th, 1989. Crisler Arena, Ann Arbor, Michigan. People always talk about a person or event that changed their life in some way and for me it was seeing The Grateful Dead live for the first time. From that day forward, I was and will always be a Deadhead. I have been to more than 1000 concerts of all kinds since then and to this day, there is still nothing like a Grateful Dead show. My friends give me a hard time because I am the biggest Bobby slappy there is but to me, Jerry Garcia was quite simply the most amazing musician I have ever seen. His unique style of playing combined with an unbelievably soulful voice unlocked places in my heart, mind, and soul that would have stayed hidden forever. Being a Deadhead opened my mind in ways nothing else ever has. The person I have become in the years since I first saw The Grateful Dead all stems from that fateful day in Ann Arbor. For all of his music, and the effect it had on me, Iam….. Eternally Grateful

Jeff August 14, 2012, 18:12:49

amazing to me that jackie greene wasnt even so into the dead when phil approached him to do phil and friends after seeing him play, and he didnt even know who phil was! im agreeing that his favorite song has to be “sugaree” cause good jesus does that man do it justice, especially considering his lack of deadhead history. my personal favorite though has to be unequivocally “loser,” one of the most beautiful but saddest songs of all time, in any genre or by any band. the truth (behind the) pain jerry was able to get across.. i cry 90% of the time i listen to that track and im sadly too young to have even ever seen jerry live :( rip brother, we know you are

Jeff August 14, 2012, 18:30:30

also, jay, thats lovely :)

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