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Jerry Garcia: 1942-1995: Musician

Life With The Grateful Dead

For the next 25 years, much of Garcia's life would revolve around his membership in the Grateful Dead. The band toured frequently, sometimes playing more than 100 shows a year, and continued to record a steady stream of albums. Garcia, however, always remained involved in various musical side projects. In the early 1970s he played banjo in the group Old and in the Way with Peter Rowan and David Grisman, and steel guitar with the New Riders of the Purple Sage. He recorded his first solo album, Garcia, in 1971, and when the Grateful Dead wasn't touring, he performed with the Jerry Garcia Band. In 1972 the Grateful Dead left Warner Brothers and issued its own albums for several years, and then took an 18-month hiatus from 1974-76. In the late 1970s the Grateful Dead signed to Arista and recorded Terrapin Station, Shakedown Street, and Go To Heaven, and in 1978 they traveled to Egypt to perform near the Great Pyramids during a lunar eclipse.

During the 1980s a number of bad habits began to catch up with Garcia. "Hard drugs had become a day-to-day reality in Garcia's life," wrote Fong-Torres of People Magazine, who added that "the notion of mind exploration had been replaced with the simple, pathetic need for a fix." Members of the Grateful Dead confronted their lead guitarist at his house about his drug use in 1984, and he agreed to seek help. In January of 1985, while Garcia was on his way to a clinic, a police officer found heroin and cocaine in his BMW. Garcia appeared in court a month later and was assigned to counseling. By the summer of 1986, he was clean of drugs, but he continued to have health problems and feel sluggish; in August of 1986 he went into a diabetic coma. "I started feeling like the vegetable kingdom was speaking to me," he was quoted in Long Strange Trip. "It was communicating in comic dialect in iambic pentameter."

After a close call with death, Garcia was forced to relearn his motor coordination, including his guitar skills. By the fall of 1986, he had returned to touring with the Jerry Garcia Band and by December he was performing with the Grateful Dead. During the summer of 1987, the Grateful Dead released its first studio album in seven years, In the Dark, and was surprised when "Touch of Gray," a new song off the album by Hunter and Garcia, reached number nine on Billboard. The band went onto film a video for "Touch of Gray" that went into heavy rotation on Music Television (MTV), sparking a whole new generation of fans for the music of Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Garcia also began a relationship with Manasha Matheson, and they had a daughter, Keelin.

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Brief BiographiesBiographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) BiographyJerry Garcia: 1942-1995: Musician Biography - Traded In Accordion For Guitar, Developed Love Of Folk Music, Settled In San Francisco, Life With The Grateful Dead