Jerry Garcia, a middle-aged man of considerable weight and an
even more considerably reedy singing voice, did not seem anything
like the archetype of a "rock star". He dressed in a
juvenile getup of a t-shirt, sneakers and dungarees and spoke
with a sort of childish enthusiasm that would be right at home
on the playground.
Garcia considered his stagecraft to be best expressed by standing
completely still and not speaking a single word to the delirious
masses of fans expressing deafening adoration for him. Despite
all of the things that should have made Garcia the antithesis
of a stereotypical rock star, he had an unquestionably extreme
Alive with Gratitude ...
The sorrowful yet sometimes merriment-filled tones that arose
from the depths of his personalized guitar were enough to captivate
the hearts of millions. Garcia once remarked, "For me, it's
always emotional." For being the leader of a band called
Grateful Dead, when Garcia was on-stage, the mood was anything
Despite his jubilant attitude
and indomitable love for the art of music, Garcia
was not without his own vices. At 53 years old, Garcia was positively
ravaged by years of drug use and related health problems. After
being affected by the combination of drugs and failing health
for a long time, Garcia's body finally gave up on him.
The guitarist's comatose body was found before dawn during a
regular bed check by a counselor at the Serenity Knoll's drug
treatment center in the San Francisco Bay area town of Forest
Jerry Garcia with Guitar
Garcia had checked in following a significant heroin addiction
relapse. While the heroin addiction was a contributor to Garcia's
battered condition, the death was officially reported as having
to do with natural causes. Garcia had died at a drug treatment
center in the summer, the cause of death being described as hardened
arteries preventing sufficient blood flow.
Garcia was credited for creating an entire subculture thanks
to his brand of psychedelic rock. Former Grateful Dead manager
Rock Scully commented that using heroin, to some degree, actually
helped Garcia concentrate when in the studio.
Trouble in River City, My Friend
Scully remarked, however, the troubles truly began to arise after
Garcia began to use at home and in hotel rooms. Scully recalled
one particular story in which Garcia had dramatically swung open
his door with his pant legs above his knees, revealing his legs
to be completely filled with open sores.
Garcia's heroin habit had
become so pervasive that former manager Jon McIntire
described him as occasionally seeming to go into 'hibernation'
if left to his own devices. McIntire attempted staging an intervention
for Garcia to receive drug treatment, and four months later, the
musician was arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin.
The addiction to heroin may have been due to the fact that Garcia
had been apparently losing interest with Grateful Dead as time
went on. The musician, while having a jubilant disposition, was
wracked with a crushing feeling of depression and dissatisfaction
that led him to indulge in all kinds of substances to emulate
real feelings of being alive.