Jerry Garcia

Jerome John Garcia

Jerry Garcia performing in May 1977, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Carl Lender
Jerry Garcia performing in May 1977, Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Carl Lender.

Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia (August 1, 1942 - August 9, 1995) was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist, best known for his work as the lead guitarist and as a vocalist with the band the Grateful Dead, which came to prominence during the counterculture of the 1960s. Although he disavowed the role, Garcia was viewed by many as the leader or "spokesman" of the group.

As one of its founders, Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for their entire 30-year career (1965-1995). Garcia also founded and participated in a variety of side projects, including the Saunders-Garcia Band (with longtime friend Merl Saunders), the Jerry Garcia Band, Old & In the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, Legion of Mary, and New Riders of the Purple Sage (which Garcia co-founded with John Dawson and David Nelson). He also released several solo albums, and contributed to a number of albums by other artists over the years as a session musician. He was well known for his distinctive guitar playing, and was ranked 13th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" cover story in 2003. In the 2015 version of the list he was ranked at #46.

Garcia's ancestors on his father's side were from Galicia in northwest Spain. His mother's ancestors were Irish and Swedish. He was born in the Excelsior District of San Francisco, California, on August 1, 1942, to Jose Ramon "Joe" Garcia and Ruth Marie "Bobbie" (nee Clifford) Garcia, who was herself born in San Francisco. His parents named him after composer Jerome Kern.

"I quit washing dishes for a living when I saw Jerry Garcia and the rest of the band pull up to the club where I worked in limousines. Right then I thought, 'I can do that.'"

-- Carlos Santana

Go to the Wiki on Jerry for more info and thanks to The Capitol Theatre for the Carlos Santana quote.