We are like liquorice. Either people ignore us, or they like us a lot
Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia was an icon of the psychedelic era and eternal member of the rock‘n’roll hall of fame.
A virtuoso guitarist who became known as the king of the 1960s counter-culture, he is considered one of the most influential musicians of all time.
Born the son of a San Francisco musician and bar owner, as a teenager in the 1950s, Jerry attended art classes outside of high school, began smoking pot and formed his first band, The Chords.
After stealing his mother’s car, he was sent to join the Army, but missed roll-calls, went AWOL several times and was discharged after just nine months. He began playing music in San Francisco and in 1964 tried the drug L.S.D. for the first time, an experience that influenced his alternative direction in life and in his music.
The Grateful Dead came together in 1964, but during the band’s 33-year history, Garcia also won acclaim for his eclectic solo work and musical collaborations. He was also noted for his art, taking a sketchbook with him wherever he toured and producing paintings, etchings and, later, digital artworks. His art inspired a silk tie label, which have sold in their millions.
In the 1970s, Jerry developed a decade-long addiction to heroin, overcoming it in 1986. Not long after, he fell seriously ill and spent five days in a diabetic coma. In 1987, a rejuvenated Jerry and his band recorded In The Dark, The Grateful Dead’s biggest-selling studio album.
Health problems led to Jerry succumbing to drugs again, as a way of managing his issues and pain. Focused on becoming well again, he had checked himself into the rehabilitation clinic where he died of a heart attack aged just 53.
Hailed as one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll guitarists of all time, it was fans who suggested the Ben ‘n’ Jerry’s Cherry Garcia flavour ice cream in his honour, while scores of musicians have paid tribute to the man in song and in concert since his death.