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Jerry Garcia

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Jerry Garcia


Those of you who have never eaten Ben & Jerry's ice cream nor swapped cassette tapes should know that Jerry Garcia was the singer and spokesman for the Grateful Dead, one of the seminally psychedelic San Francisco rock 'n' roll bands that lasted from the mid-1960s to the mid-'90s. During the '70s, he released material under the moniker of the Jerry Garcia Band, as well. In the "other" band featuring Garcia's jazzy playing, the extended, snaky and instantly recognizable solos still took place -- only within a more focused context. With many covers in his repertoire, including songs by Bob Dylan and James Taylor, Garcia was able to stretch out and have fun, resulting in a soulful sound that mixed in bits of funk, folk and bluegrass. Adding to the rootsy feeling was a group of backing singers who created a '60s R&B vibe, offering sharp contrast to the Grateful Dead's broad, spaced-out jamming. Garcia also fronted a folkie bluegrass band by the name of Old & in the Way, releasing some impressive solo material before his death in 1995. His peaceful, gentle vocal inflections were easy on the ears, especially when he was singing watery harmonies. Garcia's innovative guitar playing consisted of infinite jams and fretboard noodling that would trail off like a lysergic hallucination. Fans and followers of his who understood this knew the man as Captain Trips. And those who love his sweet mountian bluegrass songs that he used to play with David Grisman might know him as the Grateful Dawg.
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