a born and raised
Mission home boy

This section is also part of Day of the Dead presentation by  &

"Magic is what we do.
Music is how we do it." 

"Well everybody's dancing in a ring around the sun/br> Nobody's finished, we ain't even begun/
So take off your shoes, child, take off your hat/
Try on your wings and find out where it's at."

-"The Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion,"
 words and music
 by Jerry Garcia.
 "There was nothing he liked more than playing music in a band in front of dancing people. He didn't care if the group was acoustic or electric or if the audience was large or small -- it was all about hearts and souls coming together through music; ecstatic communion and transformative epiphanies."
Blair Jackson
"You need music, I don't know why. It's probably one of those Joe Campbell questions, why we need ritual. We need magic, and bliss, and power, myth, and celebration and religion in our lives, and music is a good way to encapsulate a lot of it."
Jerry Garcia
On 9 August 1995, Garcia suffered a fatal heart attack, ironically while staying in Serenity Knolls, a drug treatment centre in Marin County. It was alleged he was found curled on his bed clutching an apple with a smile on his face. The reaction from the world press was surprisingly significant: Garcia would have had a wry grin at having finally achieved this kind of respectability all over the planet. The press were largely in agreement, concurring that a major talent in the world of music had passed on (either that or all the news editors on daily newspapers were all 40-something ex-hippies). In the USA the reaction was comparable to the death of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Elvis Presley and John Lennon. Within hours over 10,000 postings were made on the Internet, an all night vigil took place in San Francisco and the president of the USA Bill Clinton gave him high praise and called him a genius. The mayor of San Francisco called for flags to be flown at half-mast and, appropriately, flew a tie dyed flag from city hall. Bob Dylan said that there was no way to measure his greatness or magnitude.
 "I'm 45 years old, I'm ready for anything, I didn't even plan on living this long, so all this shit is add-on stuff."
 Jerry Garcia following his much publicized near-death from a 4 day drug related coma in 1986

Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia
Cherry Garcia is the most popular selling flavor of ice cream in Ben & Jerry's history

official site by Jerry Garcia
 Estate LLC
May 2002:
Two of Jerry Garcia’s guitars were sold at an auction at Studio 54 in New York City. Garcia’s guitar, “Tiger” went to an anonymous buyer for $850,000 and “Wolf” was sold for $700,000. With buyer's commission, (17.5 percent for the first $100,000 plus 12 percent of the amount above $100,000) the grand total for both guitars came to $1.74 million.

The guitars were handmade for Garcia from rare woods and are embellished with mother of pearl and ivory inlays. Doug Irwin, a craftsman guitar maker, reportedly took six years to make Tiger.

The guitars were the subject of a legal dispute between Irwin and the surviving members of the Grateful Dead after Garcia died in 1995. Although Garcia bequeathed his guitar collection to Irwin in his will, the members of the Dead considered them to be part of the band's property. As part of a January settlement, Irwin received two of the five guitars, Wolf and Tiger.

Irwin, left destitute by a 1998 traffic accident, decided to sell the guitars to re-establish a guitar workshop.

Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts, purchased Tiger and recorded some songs using it with John Mellencamp's band.

jerry_garcia by salon 10 articles

Jerry Garcia in the news by

Jerry Garcia Foto Sites:
Garcia by sfgate & google
 Music Postcards by sfgate note 2 for the other Mission guitar legend: Carlos Santana

dead8 jams w/ jerry
Large display and link list too garcia.html gene anthony fotos

Jerry Garcia photos
Baron Wolman photography - Bob Minkin's Music by Rob Cohn

Herb Greene Photography

Jerry Garcia Band photos  by Robert Minkin  by Joe Ryan - Online JGB photos

ROCK at - Ed Perlstein's Music

Ed Wolpov - Kevin Papa's Rock and Roll - Rosie McGee's - JGB and Grateful Dead ticket stubs - Ron Tuten's poster art web site - Online Jerry and Dead photos - Online Dead, Phish and SCI photos

Jim Anderson's Photography

Stephen Dorian Miner

Gregg Nixon

Bryce Westover
 Band Members Sites
Music Artist Sites
Beards of a Feather - Merl Saunders' web site - David Grisman's web site -
New Riders of the Purple Sage web
founding member of both The Wildwood Boys and New Riders of the Purple Sage 
Grateful Dead
official web site
Since 1984 the Rex Foundation granted over $7.5 million to hundreds of recipients

Link list by

Hall of fame listing

Not fading away



"There's no way to measure his greatness as a person or as a player,I don't think eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great -- much more than a superb musician with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He is the very spirit personified of whatever is muddy river country at its core and screams up into the spheres. He really had no equal."

Bob Dylan

 "Who else could pick up a guitar and jam with Ornette Coleman? What I respected was that he could play anything. He could play skiffle, blues, rock, bluegrass, jazz. In today's specialized world, that is rare. He was the kind of person who threaded the music business together."
Greg Kihn
"With Garcia, it was not a one-way thing...he understood that he was in a relationship with his audience...he was not playing at them. He was playing with them. [You realize that] He's not only moving my mind. My mind is moving him!" Live energy was always very important to him".
Marshall Leicester . source
His guitar was his trusty "magic wand", not to part the waters, rather as apt representation of ‘the walking staff’ and standard we all wish for, ideally to steady us as we advance en route to our goals. Circumspection and care to stay to one’s own true path in life (‘rta’, Sanskrit, ‘the right way’) are only an effective tracking key delivered compliments of Oversoul (echoes of Ken Kesey: "Stay In Your Own Movie" and Joseph Campbell: "Follow Your Bliss!:").
Garcia at
"our most improbable pop-culture idol, somebody to whom the playing matters more than the posing."

Bill Barich for New Yorker Oct 11, 1993

  "Some call Jerry a guru, but that doesn't mean much; he is just one of those extraordinary human beings who looks you right in the eyes, smiles encouragement and waits for you to become yourself. However complex, he is entirely open and unenigmatic. He can be vain, self-assertive and even pompous, but he doesn't fool around with false apology. More than anything else he is cheery -- mordant and ironic at times, but undauntedly optimistic. He's been through thinking life is but a joke, but it's still a game to be played with relish and passionately enjoyed.

Michael Lydon (in Rolling Stone) on Jerry Garcia: 

What's in a name
As 1965 drew to its close, the Warlocks rechristened themselves the Grateful Dead, the name taken from an Egyptian prayer discovered in a dictionary by Garcia

"At this point they also found out there was another band called the Warlocks. This is a true story. Jerry went to a dictionary, opened it up, stuck in a finger, and there it was! Grateful Dead!
Grateful Dead: (grat fel ded) n. The motif of a cycle of folk tales which begin with the hero coming upon a group of people ill-treating or refusing to bury the corpse of a man who had died without paying his debts. He gives his last penny, either to pay the man's debts or to give him a decent burial. Within a few hours he meets with a traveling companion who aids him in some impossible task, gets him a fortune or saves his life. The story ends with the companion disclosing himself as the man whose corpse the hero had befriended. (Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary)

"It's a justice karma story. "
Dennis McNally

 Egyptian God of the Dead

"It's a joke. Greed and the desire to take drugs are two separate things. If you want to separate the two, the thing you do is make drugs legal. Accept the reality that people do want to change their consciousness, and make an effort to make safer, healthier drugs."
 Jerry Garcia; Rolling Stone
Nov. 30, 1989

Leading the journey
to an expanded  consciousness

'Once in a while you get shown the light
In the strangest of places if you look at it right.'
"Vaguely I understood Jerry's philosophy to be that man, like his universe, was exploding out into infinity. The acceleration of his discoveries and the speed of his technology were outdistancing the minds that dreamed them up. Since man was the only organism in nature with the ability to fuck with nature, all man had to do was dream himself up a faster mind. Man needed a sixth sense to approach light speeds. A larger consciousness, an expanded awareness, an extrasensory psyche. That's why man'd begun experimenting with drugs, whether grown from the ground, like marijuana, or synthesized through research in the Roche labs, like valium. Dope was the space ship to explore your own head and maybe to get into others. One day man'd no longer fear dope. He'd learn to use it."
Al Arnowitz The Blacklisted Journalist Cutting Edge Research by psychonauts  Roberto Hunter, Jerry Garcia and Terence McKenna at  More about

Terrence McKenna

LSD was discovered at the same time as the splitting of the atom, intensifying humanities' spiral into the unknown

"What's been great about the human race gives you a sense of how great you might get, how far you can reach."
Jerry Garcia
"Jerry Garcia like Janis Joplin doesn't have to sing with a ball and chain any more. He is like singing in light."
Carlos Santana
413k AIFF sound file.
our other SF Mission guitar god

Without your melody and taste
to lend an attitude of grace
a lyric is an orphan thing,
a hive with neither honey's taste
nor power to truly sting.

Robert Hunter more
It was the false notes you didn't play that kept that lead line so golden pure. It was the words you didn't sing. So this is what we are left with, Jerry: this golden silence. It rings on and on without any hint of let up...on and on. And I expect it will still be ringing years from now.
ken Kesey more

“trucking, like the doo dah man.”

Keep On Truckin' .. Truckin' My Blues Away!

Life in the Mission District


Juan Bautista de Anza, the leader of the first Mexican Spanish expedition to the Bay Area, was very excited to discover the fertile Mission District next to Dolores lagoon on March 28, 1776, which eventually symbolized the end point of his quest.  His father, Juan Bautista de Anza, senior, was killed by Apaches in May, 1740, when the younger Juan Bautista was not quite three years of age, while trying to discover a route to Alta California. more

Click thumbnail pics to enlarge

Since the 225th anniversary, Mission Dolores boosters and Mission Merchants have been working to move a City owned de Anza statue out of storage to the front median strip in front of the Mission more  

Mission Street is literally San Francisco's original street, acting as the final leg of El Camino (the King's Highway), which linked the California Missions (including San Francisco's Mission Dolores). Today's  Mission -14 would have been Jerry's primary mode of transportation, taking it everyday to his mom's bar or halfway in between to his grandmother's union office at the Redstone building on 16th near Mission, a nexus with 24th Street of the Mission's commercial core.

The inner Mission's Miracle Mile, much closer to the downtown, has been a bustling metro center for numerous immigrant families since it was brought back to life from its sleepy Mission Dolores days by the gold rush of 1849. Even today, this increasingly trendy arts and Latin district contains more churches and bars per capita than any similar sized district in the state of California. Many of the former union halls have made the transition to theatres and other arts spaces. While Italians and Irish were the most numerous of immigrant communities in the '40s and '50s, it's the American dream of working for a better tomorrow for your family that unites all the generations of the Mission, including the many Spanish-speaking cultures from the Americas , which have dominated the district during the second half of the 20th century.

The inner Mission has spent most of its life as San Francisco's second downtown, the immigrant working class metro center for the region. When the downtown area began expanding along this corridor in the '60s, the politically savvy neighborhood successfully revolted and avoided being wiped out like the African American western Addition along Fillmore Street - thus preserving much of the city's history. Closer to Jerry's home was the Granada Theater at Ocean and Mission, where Jerry would catch all the horror films they showed. That the first novel Jerry read was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein showed his determination to pursue his enthusiasms.

The urban neighborhood had a mix of all types. For example, the largest institution in the Excelsior is the Jewish Home for the Aged at Silver and Mission, which marks the boundary between the inner and outer Mission of San Francisco. It was, and still is, a family-oriented, church-going neighborhood.

Early Years

For most of his early years, Garcia was never more than a block away from San Francisco's Mission Street.. His father, Jose, was an immigrant like most who lived in the Mission District. His family had arrived in 1919 from the large port City in Spain known as La Corufia (La Coruna). It is known in world history as the place where the Spanish empire began to crum; its great fleet was defeated in 1588 by Sir Francis Drake as it departed the port for an attack on England.

Jerry's grandfather, Manuel "Papuella” Garcia, earned his living as an electrician, but he insisted that his four sons and all his grandchildren learn how to play an instrument and sing. 
Jerry: "I can't read, I couldn't learn how to read music, but I could play by ear. My family was a singing family, on the Spanish side, every time there was a party everybody sang." RS

Jose, or Joe Garcia, the second son of Papuella, became a swing-band leader who played jazz on clarinet, saxophone, reeds and woodwinds. At the peak of his career he led a 40-piece Dixieland orchestra.  Jerry Garcia's mother, Ruth Marie "Bobbie" Clifford, also shared a great love for music, and played piano in addition to being a registered nurse. Ruth and Garcia were married in 1935.

Download Their first child, Clifford ("Tiff"), was born in 1937, and their second and last child was born on August 1, 1942, at Children’s Hospital in the city. They named him Jerome John Garcia, after Jerome Kern, the brilliant composer of classic Broadway musicals like Show Boat and Roberta. For his first five years, Jerry and his older brother Tiff lived with their parents at 121 Amazon Avenue (map) in the Excelsior section of the San Francisco Mission District.

The family enjoyed  a comfortable life on Amazon Street after Joe retired from being professional musician. Jerry's recollection is that it was a forced retirement, because the musician's union was upset that he was holding down two gigs. Joe's bar and waterfront hotel on the corner of lst and Harrison Streets did well; it was called the Four Hundred Club, named for its location, 400 First St.

The family took auto vacations throughout the western states and Jerry's most vivid memory as a toddler came from a visit to a motel's restaurant and pool in the Santa Cruz mountains (an hour-and-a-half south of San Francisco).
Jerrry  "Anyway, after dessert I toddled outside and along comes a drunk who scoops me up, exclaiming, 'Why hell these little bastards are just like puppies ya just throw 'em in an' they swim like fish!!' and without additional comment throws me into the pool. The deep end no less! I clearly remember sinking majestically to the bottom, the soothing hush of underwater humming in my ears. All in all it was a pleasant experience. My father dove in and after rescuing me, he unceremoniously knocked out the drunk. Knocked him out cold." HS


Jerry said he could feel dirt under the missing fingernail for years.

At the age of four, Jerry had his right middle finger chopped off by his brother. He and Tiff were at the family's Lompico country house in the Santa Cruz mountains. Tiff was chopping wood, and Jerry may have been fooling around when he failed to move his finger fast enough from the descending axe blade. Jerry mostly remembers the shock of a buzzing sound vibrating in his ears during a long drive to the doctor's. Reattachment, common today, was apparently not an option, since Jerry was surprised to discover he had lost two thirds of his middle finger when the bandages came off in the bathtub sometime later.
Tiff:  "We'd been given a chore to do...he'd hold the wood and I'd chop it...he was [messing] around and I was just constantly chopping."

In the summer of 1947, the family went camping together near Arcata, in Northern California.  Joe went fly-fishing with Jerry and drowned in the deep water rapids after slipping.  Jerry always claimed to have witnessed the sudden incident, helpless and horrified from the riverbank. There is little doubt he remained haunted by the experience, and he was unable to discuss his father for years after the incident.
Jerry: "I actually watched him go under. It was horrible. I was just a little kid, and I didn't really understand what was going on. But then, of course, my life changed." RS


Ruth Garcia was left alone with two rambunctious young boys to raise, and a waterfront hotel and bar to run. Luckily, her parents agreed to Downloadhelp out. Jerry and Tiff moved in with Nan and Pop nearby at 87 Harrington Street, a few blocks away from the Amazon Street house. His mother would later move into a cottage across the street, but Ruth's parents raised Jerry over the next five years. The street was only one block long, but it connected with the district's two main transit arteries, Mission and Alemany, in a City second only to New York City for public transit. (map

Jerry naturally depended on his mother for support after his father's death, but Bobbie Garcia was not attracted to  domestic life.  An only child, she had developed a strong creative side. Her love of music included not only new American theatrical music of Jerome Kern, but also the archetypal musical tradition of opera. Jerry's strong Catholic upbringing would be tempered by his mother's  interest in astrology, palm reading and the controversial scientist Velikovsky. Jerry Garcia's many biographers generally concede he neglected his daughters while he pursued his artistic calling, although he clearly was himself troubled by not having gotten the love and support he craved from his mother. Jerry's penchant for trouble as a youth was likely the familiar strategy for attention from his distracted mom.

The 76 Union tower at the Northwest corner of the Bay Bridge was once the home of the 400 Club, where Jerry Garcia spent most of his time away from home as a youth. This webcam, from the same location,  offers the Bay Area's best view of traffic conditions on the upper deck of the bridge, and can be turned to zero in on the central freeway area as well.

Bank of America Web Cam
B of A CAM is located atop the Bank of America tower (formerly the 76 Union tower)
Jerry would often take the bus to his mother's tavern, the Four Hundred Club, and listen to sailors tell their travel stories at the bar. The spot where the bar once stood became the Union 76 clock tower, which dominated the San Francisco entrance to the Bay Bridge for most of the second half of the 20th century, and now holds Band of America's most prominent local logo.

Nan (Tillie) and Pop (Bill)

Jerry's mother's parents could trace their lineage back to the gold rush, when San Francisco became a City. Jerry's most significant mythical ancestor was his grandmother's father, Captain Olsen, who he believed was part of the gold rush of 1849 after sailing the perilous seas from Sweden to San Francisco. The maternal great-grandfather married an Irishwoman and went into the cartage (pre-trucking horse drawn cart) business.

Tillie Clifford was a captivating and remarkable woman at the forefront of the labor movement for women in the union town of San Francisco.  A founder and long-time secretary/treasurer of the local Laundry Workers' Union, she was a well-dressed professional politician who seemed to know and love everyone in San Francisco. Tillie was not to be trifled with, and in 1918 pressed assault charges against Pop.  She and her husband tolerated each other, but they rarely spoke. They were both good Irish Catholics around the community, although she often attended out-of-town union meetings with her extramarital boyfriend.

Jerry would recall her as a beautiful and charming woman with a spiritual quality, who was either "a fabulous liar or she just genuinely loved everybody." DM
"Tillie was by all accounts extraordinary - extraordinarily beautiful when she was young." ... "She was a politician and I suppose a radical union organizer in the 30s of San Francisco laundries. She was the secretary treasurer of the Local Laundry Workers Union, A.F. of L. for as long as I can remember. This was an elected post, so Tillie would run for office down at the union hall (16th near Mission) every so often and unfailingly won in a walk -usually by an enormous margin - I actually counted ballots once, fabulously dull! She always won. I think she mostly ran unopposed. She was tremendously popular, well loved, with the rank and file. [It was reciprocal, tit for tat, and she loved her members.]" HS

Nan's taste in music - including her regular habit of listening to the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights - must have passed on to Jerry, who mastered banjo playing early in his music career. Jerry's legacy as one of the great pickers in rock and roll and jazz/bluegrass  began with the long hours he spent with Nan and her music.

Pop's independent laundry delivery business brought him home early, in time to keep an eye on the boys. Jerry did not relate well to his grandfather, whose quiet demeanor contrasted dramatically with his and Nan's.
Jerry: "I can't imagine what drew them together. He was so dull. He was such a quiet person. This was one of the Irish guys that didn't have the gift of gab. He couldn't tell a story to save his soul. HS

Despite their Latin last name and Tillie's own Swedish heritage, the Garcia boys thought of their ethnicity as deriving largely from Pop and saw themselves as Mission (District) Irish, a standard San Francisco ethnic classification. 
Walk Through Mission History






Early mentor Miss Simon
In third grade Jerry was fortunate to have a bohemian teacher, 
Miss Simon, who inspired a vision of himself as an accomplished visual artist. He began to read and develop his drawing talent. He thought about his mother's palm reading insight: " you have the hands to be an artist."
 Jerry: "It was an art thing and that was more or less my guiding interest from that time on. I was going to be a painter and I really was taken with it. I got into art history and all of it. It was finally something for me to do." (RS)

During eight years of piano lessons, he never learned to sight read music and had impressed no one, including himself, as particularly musically gifted. And so, at an earlier age Garcia seemed more likely to pursue visual art.

1948's Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein was Jerry's all time favorite movie and remains one of the great horror-comedy classics of all time.
 Learn more at amazon
Jerry was well-read, but among his most wanted reading material were the comics that Tiff brought home from Mission Street. Among his favorites were  E.C. comic books, like the classic Tales From the Crypt, with gory Old Testament tales of retribution and a unique expressionistic style of graphics. 
Corpus Christi Church and sexual guilt

Around the corner from Jerry's house, on Alemany, was Corpus Christi Church, (Map) which they attended every Sunday.  As an Irish- Spanish Catholic, the Church's theater of hell was the necessary catalyst to instill a guilt ridden sexuality on Jerry as it had so successfully for centuries of other young people. More importantly it introduced him to a sense of the higher spiritual plane beyond the material world.

Jerry: "I remember worrying, with all the pious sincerity I could muster, should I happen upon a fatally wounded pagan would I have the presence of mind to correctly administer a baptism before seeking medical aid so as to ensure the survival of his/her immortal soul! Whew!


Old Corpus Christi Catholic Church
(click pic for slide show)

 So, one block, scarcely 100 yards from the door at 87 Harrington, was God's House! In those days they still had the wonderful Latin Mass with its resonant sonorities and mysterious ritual movements, the incense, the music, choir, organ, bells, candles, the muted light through the stained glass windows."HS


not SIN

"Twenty years later he would read an underground comic book called Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary and grasp profoundly that it described exactly the hell of his early teens, as captured in the rays of light, lust, guilt, that emanated from Binky's crotch, up toward the Virgin, down to hell, and out toward the entire world. (DM)

In the year before his death, Jerry composed an atypical recollection of childhood memories in drawings and words  called Harrington Street. His most dramatic illustrations were saved for a traumatic early sexual experience with older neighborhood girls
Jerry: "When he was very young, the up the street, mean girls, would corner him, make him stand on a box and take his pants down. They would look at him and laugh. It was horrible."

The Stepfathers: Ben & Wally

Ruth "Bobbie" Garcia enjoyed a brief marriage to Ben Brown in 1949, whose blond burly good looks was complemented by his construction skills who Bobbie put to good use improving her cottage. Ben did not show much interest in family life. The extended Garcia family did not approve of the marriage, and the support they'd offered the boys became much less.

Dennis McNally, the author of A Long Strange Trip (DM) and long-time associate of Jerry,  believes Jerry was deeply wounded by his mother's many interests besides him and that he felt abandoned when it was determined he was best off living with his maternal grandparents. A specific traumatic memory of being left behind on the street one day by his mother, of frantically searching for her until he was finally found by his grandmother.  
He was bereft, and he would always carry a feeling that he was not loved or cared for, that he was not worthy."
McNally writes. 
 Tiff: " he got everything he wanted from my mom until he left home and went into the army." "Dark Star;
While his brother Tiff remembers it differently, Jerry's first wife, Sara got the picture within minutes of being introduced. 

"Jerry's mother, Ruth, had really wanted Jerry to be a girl.  She'd had a boy and she doted on him.  Tiff was the favorite kid.  Tiff was the star.  When Jerry took me that same night to meet her in her little place in Diamond Heights, there was a photo on top of the TV.  Tiff in his Marine suit with the gun.  On top of the TV.  She watched TV all the time.  I loved that woman a lot but she and Jerry didn't have a very good relationship."
Sara Ruppenthal Garcia
; Jerry's first wife 

In 1953 Bobbie married Wally Matusiewicz and the boys moved back in with her. Wally expected his stepsons to work alongside him on home projects; but Jerry was not interested and had developed a smart alec mouth to go with a willful streak while living  with his grandparents.  Jerry appreciated that his stepfather happened to have stringed instruments, electrical instruments, amplifiers, and even a tape recorder around the house but they were unable to foster a good relationship. Jerry, at that age, was likely still  too troubled and confused over his relationship with his mom and the trauma of his father's death to invest in bonding with Wally.

Cliff and Jerry Garcia
on Harrington St., 1953

Tiff:  "Wally was pretty supportive of me, and at the time I thought he was more supportive of Jerry; I don’t know. He and I worked together as seamen later on for a couple of months. He wasn’t the kind of role model my grandfather was because he was always working the bar, and if he wasn’t doing that he’d go out to sea for a month or two. He did what my mom wanted him to do; she was paying the bills. But he really loved my mom; he was crazy about her. More so than Ben Brown, who didn’t want to be a family person. Wally did."(BJ)

Menlo Park Years and Books
 Like most of the neighbors, Jerry's mom decided to move to suburbia. The trigger was rebuilding her bar across the street after the Union Oil company bought the building.  Jerry would later regroup here when he struck out on his own after being discharged from the Army.
"And then, my mother remarried when I was about ten or eleven or so, and she decided to get the kids out of the city, that thing, go down to the Peninsula, and we moved down to Menlo Park for about three years and I went to school down there. (RS)

Jerry: "It was kind of interesting for a few years, socially; it was very different. In San Francisco, the school I went to and the neighborhood I grew up in was very Catholic. Down on the Peninsula, Catholics were in the minority and I was surprised to learn that there were other religions; that was big surprise. 'Oh that's interesting.' And whole other ways of doing things. And the whole thing of boys and girls was much easier. In the city, boys and girls were like two different worlds; they really didn't see each other almost. Even though we were in school together, there was no social context in which anything could happen. But down on the Peninsula there were all these things built in—schools had dances and all this stuff was part of a socializing program of some kind." (BJ)
Jerry: /font>"I felt uncomfortable there," he said. "I was used to the streets. Down there they had a complicated social structure. I was never exposed to rich kids before. There was a whole new ambiance." (AA)

Mary Brydges: to be pretty much "in his own world," doodling skulls and crossbones and monsters, always funny and fun, sarcastic but not cruel, somehow "more worldly, faster" than the rest of the kids, but also a little lonelier. (DM)

In the fall of 1955 he entered the Fast Learner Program in the eighth grade at Menlo Oaks school.  A history teacher, Dwight Johnson became both a hero and mentor. He introduced his students to the great pioneers of the unconscious C.J. Jung and Sigmund Freud and other intellectual authors like D. H. Lawrence and George Orwell.

Jerry was also spending time at his grandparents in bed, sick with asthma and reading or watching TV. Jerry was surprised to find the difficult books as easy as the kid stuff. Jerry's family had been one of the first in the neighborhood to acquire a TV, which was invented in San Francisco. 

Mr Johnson was an iconoclastic bohemian. When Mr. Johnson roared up to school on his Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle or MG , he instantly drew his students' like Jerry's attention. Mr. Johnson noticed Jerry's gifts as an artist, and soon had Jerry was absorbed in murals, the sets for school plays, and the school newspaper. (DM)

Jerry: "I became aware there was an intellectual universe going on somewhere, something I didn't suspect. The history teacher turned me on to thinking. He got fired for being too controversial, talking about birth control, life, weirdness. It was reading that started me thinking, 'that's different from what was supposed to be going on, from what I learned in school.'"(AA)

 The chance to excel creatively at school was not matched by an urge to please authority and he continued to annoy with them with mock switchblade duels between classes with his buddy Laird Grant.  They responded by requiring Jerry to repeat the eighth grade when he refused to retake certain tests..

Black Barts vs. White Shoes: 

 Finally, in June 1957 he graduated from Menlo Oaks and moved back to San Francisco, where he split time near school with Nan and Pop and with his mother in her new apartment above the new bar at the same 1st and Harrison intersection. The building had been a candy factory before she acquired it for the bar.
 Jerry spent the ninth grade at Denman Junior High School in the outer Mission,  (Map) and began keeping company with kids who carried razors for self-protection. 

Jerry: "We moved back to the city when I was about thirteen or so and I started going to Denman, a good old San Francisco rowdy roughneck school. I became a hoodlum, survival thing; you had to be a hoodlum, otherwise you walk down the street and somebody beat you up. I had my friends, and we were hoodlums and we went out on the weekends and did a lot of drinkm' and all that, and meanwhile I was still reading and buying books and going to San Francisco Art Institute on the weekends and just sort of leading this whole secret life. (RS)

Denman's student body was divided into warring camps: the Barts (shorthand for "Black Barts," or the "greasers" from the city's blue-collar neighborhoods) and the Shoes (mostly upper-middle-class kids named for their fashionable white shoes). Membership in one of these cliques was a means of surviving in an environment where fights erupted easily and often and spilled over into weekends. Shoes and Barts would troll each other's neighborhoods looking for fights and settling scores with fists, boards, and razor blades.

"Either you were a hoodlum, or you were a puddle on the sidewalk." 

 And every gang member was a target. As a Bart, Jerry often came home with a split lip or with bruises and gashes from run-ins with the Shoes. More than once, he was hurt badly enough to go to nearby Mission Emergency Hospital.
"I got into immense trouble," he said. "I'd get beat up by the gangs. If you ever were out by yourself at night you were a target." (AA)

Guitar & Weed Days: A short troubled High school experience

Sometime in the mid-1950s, Jerry heard rock and roll for the first time.

He'd been listening to KWBR, the R&B station in Oakland, and to KSAN with Jumpin' George Oxford. He'd been listening to them play Lightnin' Hopkins and Muddy Waters and Jimmy Reed and Guitar Slim and John Lee Hooker, black bottom blues. Also, he'd been tuning into AM radio, Top 40, KOBY. (AA)

HIPNESS: the authentic wisdom eternally found at the edges and bottom of the social pyramid

  "An obscure street-corner tune by the Crows called Gee set him to listening to the cream of American popular music, and Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, B. B. King, and Muddy Waters kept him company all day and half the night long.  Initially a solo acoustic form from the Mississippi Delta, the blues evolved through boogie-woogie piano and Kansas City big-band vocal shouting to Chicago, where Muddy Waters found acoustic guitar inaudible in forties clubs. His transition to electric guitar defined a new urban blues, which evolved yet again into the R&B of the late forties and the fifties.  Each mode contained a high realism that knew life as a solitary confinement sometimes comforted by sexuality or even love but inevitably succeeded by a death sentence. 
In all of American popular music, only the blues spoke truthfully of love and death.  Enthralled, Jerry absorbed not only chords and rhythms but a certain vision.  It was not the psychopathology of Norman Mailer's White Negro that he acquired, but hipness,
the authentic wisdom eternally found at the edges and bottom of the social pyramid. DM

  Performers like Bill Haley and the Comets, Little Richard, and Elvis Presley delighted the teenager with their rocking, rolling, howling rhythmic style, a revved-up hybrid of rockabilly, blues, and country.  Jerry fell "madly in love" with it, listening most closely to rock and roll guitarists Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent, Buddy Holly, Bo Diddley, and Eddie Cochran. Jerry wanted to play guitar badly

  He asked his mother to buy him one. His mother would soon understand the importance of the guitar in the new music which was becoming her son's passion. Hoping to salvage some benefit from the eights years of piano lessons she had insisted upon she gave Jerry an accordion for his 15th birthday.

Jerry "It was my first kind of hype trip, Marty Robbins, rockabilly, Jerry Lee Lewis." he said. "I wanted to play guitar. I was already singing three-part harmonies with my brother and cousin and I wanted to accompany myself. If not on guitar, something else. But not on accordion!"
"I went nuts--'Ahhhggg! No! No!--' I railed and I raved, and she finally turned it in, and I got a pawnshop electric guitar and an amplifier. I was beside myself with joy... I wanted to make that sound so badly.

Jerry's mom agreed to swap it for the Danelectro guitar Jerry had spotted in a pawnshop window at the corner of 3rd and Folsom, a few blocks from the family bar. 

Jerry with his cousin Danny Garcia and brother Tiff  would play their guitars and sing on corners during their teen years.
Jerry: "My brother and my cousin and I when we were pretty young did a lot of street corner harmonizing . . . rock & roll . . . good old rhythm & blues, that kind of stuff, pop songs, all that. It was radio days, Lucky Lager Dance Time and all that." 

In the fall of 1958 Jerry began tenth grade across the street from Denman at Balboa High School

Jerry: "A lot of fighting, race riots, all that high school shit that was so heavy in the '50s," he said. "Gangs go out cruising on a Friday night with other hoodlums, drinking wine and having fights. The tops of the hills in the city weren't built on yet. It was still like going to the country. Trees, ponds, grass, animals. We went up one day and smoked a couple of joints. After that I really got into it. And I wasn't into changing my mood, I was into getting stoned!" (AA)

Jerry: "I was fifteen when I got turned on to marijuana. Finally there was marijuana: Wow! Marijuana! Me and a friend of mine went up into the hills with two joints, the San Francisco foothills, and smoked these joints and just got so high and laughed and roared and went skipping down the streets doing funny things and just having a helluva time. It was great, it was just what I wanted, it was the perfect, it was---and that wine thing was so awful and this marijuana was so perfect .(RS)
Tiff: "Jerry and I smoked pot a lot. My grandmother used to have this matchbook collection. Being in the union she used to travel around and go to all these conventions and she'd collect matchbooks. She smoked, but she usually used a lighter. By the time Jerry went into the service, all those matches were gone, from us constantly lighting roaches. " (BJ)


Cazadero on the Russian River

Finally, Jerry's mother, fearing for her son's safety, again moved out of the city, into the rural suburb of Cazadero near the Russian River in Sonoma county and hour plus north of San Francisco. The 30-mile bus ride to Analy High School in Sebastopol did not suit Jerry well.  He began skipping school, sneaking rides into San Francisco to run with the same kids his mother had tried to keep him from earlier. He often stole his mother's car to visit friends. Tiff who had joined the Army but managed to spend time in Cazadero often joined him in his pursuits.

Analy High  is where Garcia played his first gig. He had a five- piece combo in which he played the guitar, and there was a piano, two saxes, and a bass. They won a prize of being able to record their own song. They chose Bill Doggett's "Raunchy".

Onto The Road

Jerry: "I grew up in a bar," Jerry said. "And that was back in the days when the Orient was still the Orient, and it hadn't been completely Americanized yet. They'd bring back all these weird

"Truth is something you stumble into when you think you're going someplace else."

 things. Like one guy had the largest private collection of photographs of square-riggers. He was an old sea captain, and he had a mint condition '47 Packard that he parked out front. And he had a huge wardrobe of these beautifully tailored double-breasted suits from the '30s. And he'd tell these incredible stories. That was one of the reasons I couldn't stay in school [later]. School was a little too boring. These guys gave me a glimpse into a larger universe that seemed attractive and fun and, you know, crazy."(BJ)

"ON THE ROAD was the turning point in my life," Jerry Garcia


His hero was Dean Moriarity the existential wanderer from Jack Kerouac's novel On The Road who would dare anything for the sake of experience and living in the moment. Kerouac's book on alternative living would serve as a blueprint for the rest of Garcia's life by also consciously connecting him to a whole line of authors like R.W. Emerson, Thoreau, and Walt Whitman whose guideposts for living an authentic life had been dimmed from mainstream culture.  In his junior year, Jerry dropped out of high school altogether. At 17, he was more concerned with perfecting his version of a mellow, guitar playing, Dean. For many years, Jerry would keep a picture of Jack Kerouac in his dressing room.

Little more than a year later in 1959, he left his mother's house in Sonoma county. He moved Redwood City where his friend Laird  Grant had fixed up a back yard chicken coop for him to live in. He was always welcome at his grandmother's place in the Mission as well. Jerry read, played guitar alone in the chicken coop, hitch-hiked around, picked fruit in the nearby orchards, and then at 17, joined the Army.
"It was either go back to school or get into trouble," Jerry recalled.

Private Jerry Garcia does the SF Presidio

Jerry:  "It was '59. There were a lot of rumors something bad might start in Germany. I thought I'd get to travel. I did my basic at Fort Ord, 60 miles south of San Francisco. Then I was sent up to the Presidio. That's what really fucked me. It only lasted nine months. I just lived at home, stayed at my grandmother's house.


"I didn’t do anything in the army, I didn’t do anything at all. But I was very nice about it"

I'd go back to the Army every day, like a job. I was AWOL a few weeks. When I got back, they were real pissed. They court-martialed me and I violated probation. Another court-martial. They said, 'Look, do you want to get out of the Army?' The Army was fantastically dull." (AA)
Jerry: "It's absolutely the top of the elite," Jerry said. "It's the nicest place to be stationed; all the guys who are there have jockeyed and manipulated to get in there. They don't want no trouble, you know what I mean? Every single guy there is a guy who's got gold-plated service. They love it there and they don't want to hear about nothin'. So if there's anybody who's making any trouble — you know how that stuff works: whoever the superior is, is the person who gets into trouble. So there I was going AWOL on the weekends and screwing up left and right, and just doing my stuff. I wasn't committing crimes or anything like that. I was just living my life. And even doing things that I thought were important....(BJ)

 Jerry Enters the Creative Cauldron near Stanford

Nine months after joining the Army, Garcia was given a general discharge. Jerry drove down the Peninsula to Palo Alto with the intention of becoming a part of the lively alternative scene surrounding Stanford University.  When Jerry arrived, his Caddie died, he simply ripped out the back seat and set up housekeeping on an empty East Palo Alto lot with it.Compliments of Garcia

It was 1960 and Jerry had discovered a lot of people his age who both thought like he did and were seriously creative.  They were the first generation born in the shadow of the bomb and many agreed wholeheartedly with the pacifisim being expressed most articulately by local antiwar activists like singer Joan Baez and Roy Kepler who owned Kepler's books.  Jerry was only eighteen when he became convinced he needed to focus intensely on being the best at playing his music, even if this meant his visual art work would suffer. This decision was easier by realizing how much more talent his friend, visual artist, Paul Speegle possessed.
Laird Grant.
"He would have set the art world on its ass by the '70s, the way he was going. He was majestic. He could make ghosts come out of oil paint. He was working on this amazing series of paintings called 'The Blind Prophet' series, which were these great, somber, Gothic pieces."
When Speegle failed to emerge alive from the auto accident they were in together Jerry was deeply affected with a sense urgency.

"I don't think people understand that Jerry didn't have to take LSD to become Jerry. This guy was fully formed by the time he got himself thrown out of the army. And everybody who met him knew this."  Robert Greenfield

Jerry continued taking classes at the Art Institute located in San Francisco's North Beach
neighborhood. This was where his hero from On the road called home and the beatnik movement was based. Jerry saw himself as second generation beatnik. More so, he had dedicated himself to making great music on his Sears Silvertone guitar with the purpose of not only being a professional musician like his father but also taking the philosophy of the Beatniks to the next level.
He began by living out of his car next door to Robert Hunter's similar home on a lot in East Palo Alto. The two immersed themselves in the vibrant arts and folk music scene thriving in the cafes and particularly, Keplar's bookstore in Palo Alto. Jerry's first paying gig came with Hunter, his future songwriting partner,  performing as "Bob and Jerry", they each earned five dollars.
The two young adults may not have possessed the proverbial Palo Alto garage so often at the center of a Silicon Valley's high-tech success story of the nineties but from this early experimental period would come great things which addressed sustenance for the soul and expansion of the mind. Their bond would become the foundation of a lasting legacy;  one of joy and self-fulfillment for millions as the greatest live musician of his time and a commitment to stake out the next level of human consciousness without regard for the consequences.

pumkin carving, halloween, jack o' lanterns

 Excelsior District
Jerry Garcia Birthday

Collector's Item Still Available
a Special Limited Edition Jerry Garcia / Excelsior T-Shirt Authorized by the Jerry Garcia Estate. All of the proceeds from this shirt will goto benefit Exclesior Youth Programs! For more info, check out

To purchase them now:
Claddagh Coffee - $20
951 Geneva St.
San Francisco, CA 94112

Argentina Shop
3250 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110

Neighbors in the Excelsior organized a concert at the McLaren Park Amphitheatre for two reasons: to honor longtime Grateful Dead front man Jerry Garcia's birthday, and for a little respect.

The beautiful Sunday afternoon, gave an opportunity for the older pot-smoking crowd to enjoy watching Michael John Ahern and then the Mystery Cats play Dead covers. Both bands were playing the gig for free, out of respect for Garcia and for the neighborhood cause.

The concert was organized by FACE (Friends and Activists of the Crocker-Amazon and Excelsior)  to bring some positive attention to the district and to McLaren Park, The City's largest after Golden Gate.

The amphitheatre used to be the sight of many concerts in the '60s and '70s, including the San Francisco Blues Festival, but has been little used of late despite being refurbished in 2001. 
adopted in part from 

Excelsior wakes the Dead
Crocker Amazon Grand Opening, July 1, 2003 at


Jerry Garcia by & google over 500 pages including many annual birthday bashes

Jerry Garcia was
a prolific musician who played with many great musicians but he will be best remembered as the backbone of  The Grateful Dead.

An eloquent guitarist,  engaging vocalist,  gifted composer and brilliant improviser, Garcia was charismatic, articulate, generous,
sincere, uncompromising, well read, and a born leader. Remarkably, historians seem to agree  that he emerged from his  upbringing in the Mission district fully formed with the 'diamond-hard look of a cobra.'

The Grateful Dead will  forever be associated with San Francisco and the  psychedelic band which best represented the  cultural movements known as as the summer of love, Woodstock and hippies.

Formed in 1965 in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury district -they believed they represented the next generation of the beat movement- which had emerged from the North beach district of San Francisco. The original line-up comprised Jerry Garcia (b. Jerome John Garcia, 1 August 1942, San Francisco, California, USA, d. 9 August 1995, Forest Knolls, California, USA; lead guitar), Bob Weir (b. Robert Hall, 16 October 1947, San Francisco, California, USA; rhythm guitar), Phil Lesh (b. Philip Chapman, 15 March 1940, Berkeley, California, USA; bass), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (b. 8 September 1945, San Bruno, California, USA. d. 8 March 1973; keyboards) and Bill Kreutzmann (b. 7 April 1946, Palo Alto, California, USA; drums).  The band later added second drummer, Mickey Hart (b. 11 September 1943, New York, USA) in 1967. Several members died along the way, Ron ``Pigpen McKernan'', Brent Mydland and Keith Godchaux.

Jerry Garcia in his long career worked  with the Jefferson Airplane, David Crosby, Paul Kantner, Jefferson Starship, New Riders Of The Purple Sage and Crosby, Stills, Nash And Young as well as various spin-offs involving David Nelson, John Kahn, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Merl Saunders and Howard Wales (ex-A.B. Skhy). Garcia was equally at home on banjo and pedal-steel guitar, and had the ability to play two entirely different styles of music without a hint of musical overlap (rock 'n' roll/blues and country/bluegrass. Garcia was credited on Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow as "musical and spiritual adviser" and known locally as "Captain Trips".

Deborah Koons Garcia, who Jerry married on Valentine's Day 1994, came under intense media scrutiny when she  contended that neither the marriage to Carolyn Adams nor the one paragraph separation agreement he signed with her were valid. The matter went to trial where the judge strongly disagreed and not only ordered the monthly $20,000-plus payments to Adams Garcia reinstated, he saddled Koons with court costs.

Garcia married wife number one, Sarah Katz, in 1963 when he was just 20, a relationship that produced daughter Heather Garcia Katz.

Adams first became a public figure as  Ken Kesey's consort -- they had a daughter, Sunshine. Mountain Girl is the name she was given as one of the Merry Pranksters who accompanied the novelist Ken Kesey at the Acid Tests, in which thousands of people were introduced to LSD before it was outlawed in California in late 1966.   Ms. Adams moved into the Grateful Dead communal house at 710 Ashbury with Jerry she was still married then to one of the sometime-Pranksters, George Walker and Jerry was separated from Sara Ruppenthal Garcia. Together -- they produced two daughters Annabelle (in 1970) and Theresa (in 1974).

Garcia married Adams in his dressing room backstage at a 1981 New Year's Eve concert in Oakland, and not even his bandmates were present. According to Grateful Dead roadie Steve Parish, who saw Garcia shortly after the ceremony, Garcia told him, "I love Mountain Girl and I've got to square up my taxes."  Adams and Garcia  also lived together from 1986 until 1990.

Manasha Matheson Garcia lived with Garcia for six years from 1987 on. Their daughter, Keelin, was born in December 1987. On Dec. 30, 1992, Matheson, who had her name legally changed to Garcia, says Jerry kissed her, told her he loved her, left the house and never came back. She says he sometimes phoned Keelin but never visited her again.

Garcia divorced Adams in order to marry Koons, a film and video producer, on Valentine's Day, 1993, 18-months prior to his death. They were married in a traditional ceremony in a church with a reception held at a yacht club.
Garcia left one-third of his estate to Koons, and of the remaining two-thirds, he left one-fifth to each of his four daughters with the remaining fifth going to his brother, Clifford Garcia, and Sunshine Kesey.

Claims against the Jerry Garcia estate from ex-wives, lovers, and former business partners total more than $30 million while the estate was estimated at $9.9 million. The Will of Jerry Garcia

In 2001 Jerry made the Forbes top ten list for Richest Deceased Celebrities

Just after dawn on April 4, 1996 Garcia's ashes were sprinkled down the Ganges river 155 miles north of New Dehli by Deborah Koons Garcia and Bob Weir, the idea of which came to Weir in a dream. April 4 is known in India as Budh Purnima, Buddha's birthday and day of a full moon. It's also the same day the Buddha reached nirvana, the escape from the endless cycle of reincarnation. Garcia's brief ceremony initiated after the total eclipse of the moon, which took place from about 4:30 to 6:00 am.
Weir and Koons immersed themselves in the Ganges and let their garlands float away, after which followed a simple ceremony with poems, flowers and prayers. In the final moments, as his ashes were scattered into the river sending him on his way to another life, Bob Weir's farewell was the simple wish "May you have peace, Jerry, and travel to the stars.''
Jerry's remaining ashes were scattered in the San Francisco Bay on the morning of April 15, 1996.
A small gathering of friends and family listened to poems written by Mickey Hart and Robert Hunter.
Each of his closest associates and daughters scooped handfuls overboard, after which flowers were scattered on the water under foggy, drizzling rain.

Brent Meeske handheld, you-are-there video portrait of the Deadhead’s last ride, The End of the Road,   captures the poignant “What will we do now?” feeling of the cultural phenonenon.

Channeling Jerry

"He's at a much higher level now," Weir said. "There's no interference from ego. He comes from a place of higher vision. There's no drugs up there."
Book author Wendy Weir told Salon Books describing her conversations with Jerry in the next world. Jerry also passed along this advice for her readers:

"Be Open. Do not limit yourself. Gifts come in many forms. Do not judge them, as you say, by the wrapping."
more at salon books

"When you lose your sense of humor, it just isn't funny anymore,"
Wavy Gravy reminds.


Vital statistics:
2317 shows performed between 1965 and 1995
a total of 37149 songs played.

Jerry Garcia and the Dead played before more people and played more years than any other music combo in history.

Jerry Garcia Quotes
"It's pretty clear now that what looked like it might have been some kind of counterculture is, in reality, just the plain old chaos of undifferentiated weirdness. "Glowing Jerry

"Somebody has to do
something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us."

There is a road, no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night, and if you go, no one may follow, that path is for your steps alone


Their innovative and colourful album covers were among the finest examples of San Franciscan art,
SF historic posters

Jerry Garcia the early years in the Outer Mission 
Lipstick Traces


More Related Music Pages


top Music artists

Return to or

enduring symbol of the counter-culture 1960s

legendary virtuoso guitarist who was the heart of the Grateful Dead and guru to two generations of Deadheads

most successful bands in rock-and-roll without sacrificing his music to the commercialism rampant in the industry he was eulogized as a beacon of integrity and hope in an often petty music world

spreading their message of peace, love and mind-expansion across the globe throughout the better part of three decades. The object of adoration for popular music's most fervent and celebrated fan following

one group where the performance was the message. Many find their music is best enjoyed on psychedelics. The group's hip, laid back attitude was a departure from the ego-centric rock stardom that many pursued.

an anarchist streak with a populist undercurrent that had roots in Ken Kesey's prankster

a cosmic sense of humor, for a spirit of adventure, for compassion for our fellow beings

  Birthplace of the SF Bay