Spirit and spokesman for 1960s counterculture
Jerry Garcia’s best-known songs for the Grateful Dead were largely co-written with his longtime collaborator Robert Hunter and include such classic Dead fare as “Casey Jones,” “China Cat Sunflower,” “St. Stephen,” “Truckin’,” “Dark Star,” “Friend of the Devil,” “Uncle John’s Band,” “Casey Jones,” “Sugar Magnolia” and “Touch of Grey.” But Garcia (born Aug. 1, 1942) first partnered with Hunter in an early 1960s folk duo. They met in 1961 in Palo Alto (Garcia’s first concert was with Hunter, with each earning $5), and also played in several of Garcia's early bluegrass bands. Hunter rejoined Garcia in the Grateful Dead in the fall of 1967, when he wrote the first verse of “Dark Star” at a band rehearsal.
The composition is now listed among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll,” and is also No. 57 on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.” “Truckin’,” too, has been singled out, by the U.S. Library of Congress, which cited it as a national treasure in 1997. “Friend of the Devil,” from the Dead’s 1970 album American Beauty, is another significant Hunter-Garcia copyright in that it has been covered by Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, The Counting Crows, Elvis Costello, Lyle Lovett and John Mayer.
Garcia co-founded the Dead in 1965 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Grateful Dead in 1994. Besides the Dead, he performed in numerous side projects including the Saunders-Garcia Band, the Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, Legion of Mary and the New Riders of the Purple Sage. He was ranked 13th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" 2003 cover story.
Garcia died August 9, 1995, at 53. The Grateful Dead received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.