On This Day (August 9) in 1995 Jerry Garcia passed away (8 days after his 53rd birthday) from a heart attack. For me, this is when the final spirit of the sixties really ended (along with John Lennon’s death years earlier). As one of its founders, Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for their entire 30-year career (1965–1995). He was renowned for his musical and technical ability, particularly his ability to play a variety of instruments, and his ability to sustain long improvisations with The Grateful Dead.
Regarding his soloing style, I thought this was interesting (and useful, to a soloist): When asked to describe his approach to soloing, Garcia commented: “It keeps on changing. I still basically revolve around the melody and the way it’s broken up into phrases as I perceive them. With most solos, I tend to play something that phrases the way the melody does; my phrases may be more dense or have different value, but they’ll occur in the same places in the song.”
Garcia first met lyricist and poet Robert Hunter in 1961, who would become a long-time friend and lyricist for the Grateful Dead, officially a non-performing band member. Of note, Hunter was the great-great grandson of Romantic poet Robert Burns (Hunter’s actual birth name was Robert Burns.) Hunter collaborated with Garcia on almost all of his songs, a very fortunate pairing that can be compared to Elton John (music) and Bernie Taupin (lyrics.)
This performance is dedicated to my friend Mark C, and of course Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.
“Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” Jerry Garcia
Note: For this recording I’m playing a Yamaha Clavinova – which has the same keyboard action as a traditional acoustic piano, but there are no strings. Pressing a key activates (in this case) a sound which was sampled from a Bösendorfer Imperial Concert Grand piano. Try listening to it with a good set of headphones! It sounds better than any piano I’ve ever owned!!