"If you tell the Truth, you don't have to remember anything"
-Mark Twain
"You realize, of course, that everything I say is horseshit." -Kurt Vonnegut

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Jerome John Garcia was born on this date 70 years ago. His parents chose the name Jerome as a tribute to the songwriter Jerome Kern. Kern wrote more than 700 popular songs at that time. Most of his songs were parts of either Broadway plays or part of his Hollywood films. His most famous work is the musical "Showboat."
Jerry was the second son of Joe and Ruth. His mother was a stay at home 50's mom, and his dad was a Clarinet/Saxophone player. His father died one day when the family was at the beach. The rip tide sucked him out to sea and his body was never found. Jerry was 4 and claimed to remember seeing it happen but older brother Tiff thought that he only remembered the commotion around the search.
Tiff was later responsible for Jerry losing part of his finger. It was cut off when the two were playing a game of chicken with an ax. I guess Jerry wasn't chicken enough. There is speculation that this might be the only part of Jerry that is buried but Tiff said that he did not completely severe the finger. It was amputated because of the condition when they reached the hospital.
Jerry started playing guitar at the age of 14 when he finally convinced his mother to buy him a guitar. He gigged around San Francisco as a banjo player in the early 60's. He and his girlfriend Sara had a shotgun wedding and shortly after his first daughter was born he took of to West Virginia to listen and learn, and hopefully play with Bill Monroe. Though he never did, he recorded the live shows, which is why he didn't mind the Deadheads and their tape trees.
In 65, Pigpen helped to convince Jerry to go electric as a blues band. Pigpen, Bill Kreutzmann, Bob Weir, Dana Morgan Jr, and Jerry started The Warlocks after gigging as Mother Mccree's Uptown Jug Band Champions. The Grateful Dead was born when Phil Lesh discovered a Warlocks album in a record store. The band was kicking around names when Jerry started flipping through a Funk & Wagnell Dictionary, when he happened across the term Grateful Dead. The juxtaposition of the two terms fascinated Jerry, so he proposed it to the group. A weary soul that pay respect to someone that has helped to rectify that souls body may encounter the Grateful Dead.
According to Deadbase, Archive, and the Jerry site, Jerry has played 5 birthday shows. The most famous is the Grateful Dead from Roosevelt, NJ in 1973, but he played shows in 1965, 1966, 1994 and his 40th birthday in 1982.
This is birthday party is a real "Playin' in the Band" fest. After closing out the first set with an igniting "China/Rider," the band opens up the second set with "Playin'." As the verse end the band opens up the cosmos and takes the audience right through the door. "Iko" comes out of the madness and the band slips right back into the madness before "Sailor/Saint."
Inching their way out of "Space," the band fades into "Wheel," before reviving the set opener. Although not as far out as the opening jam, there is more thickness to the "Playin' reprised." After that revival Jerry preaches "It's just like any other day there ever was." Bobby then puts together the two Chuck Berry classics to close out the set with a bang.
This is perfectly displays Jerry's character. Although he could have called for more of his songs, he stood back and took what came his way. Rarely did he ripple the waters.

I: Straw, TLEO, CC Rider, Jed, My Uncle, Big River, China Cat, Rider
II: Playin',Iko, Playin' Sailor, Saint, Drums, Space, Wheel Playin', Black Peter, Around, JBG, E: US Blues 

Now there are a couple of ways that you can celebrate Jerry's 70th birthday, the first is at the movies. I'll be at New Roc for the Grateful Dead Movie at 7 PM. The San Francisco Giants are going to be celebrating his 70th birthday when the play New York Mets at 7 PST. There will also be a Jerry event at Terrapin CrossRoads that Phil will be playing at his San Rafael club. There will also be a special announcement coming from dead.net this afternoon. Or if you just have thoughts you can tweet them to Relix Magazine with the hastag #HappyBDayJerry.
Now the fact that Jerry was named after a songwriter is fitting considering that he took on that profession. Most Ben Stern fans know Kern's most recognizable song is "Old Man River," but did Jerry ever cover his namesake?
The final studio session that JGB did was for the "Smoke" soundtrack. "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" is the only song that Jerry cover of Jerome Kern.

Today we enter the Days Between. A period of 8 days that span between the anniversary of Jerry Garcia's birth and death. Each day I'll present a featured show and I'll have a review and write up about news on the celebration. Last year the Grateful Dead Channel on Sirius would broadcast an interview with Jerry Garcia at 8 AM and 5 PM EST.  
Jerry and his dad. The two musicians in the family. 
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