On this day in 1995 The Grateful Dead gave their last concert before the death of Jerry Garcia at Chicago’s Soldier Field. Jerry was dead a month later of a heart attack. He was staying ata drug rehab clinic at the time.
Jerry Garcia was, for many, the heart of the band. He was a prodigious talent who started playing guitar when he was 15. He started hi own band (called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions) and the basis of the Dead began to form. Along the way the band changed their name to The Warlocks and eventually to The Grateful Dead.
Although hugely popular as a live act on the West coast the Dead found themselves hugely in debt to Warners after 3 albums. Their saviour seems so obvious now but at the time was a revelation, a live album. ‘Live/Dead’ featured a 23 minute version of Dark Star and showed the whole world what the band was about.
To many, the epitome of the band was the release of American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead. To those who regard themselves as ‘true’ Dead fans there is nothing to compare to the gigs, and albums, whether live or studio were just pale imitations. The Dead tribe was formed.
While the very epitome of hippydom, the Dead were also consistantly one of the highest grossing live acts in the world. Even after JG’s death the music went on, this time in the exelent Dick’s Picks series of albums.