A psychedelic journey through the life of one of the most fascinating figures in American popular culture.
He was there when Dylan went electric, when a generation danced naked at Woodstock, and when Ken Kesey decided to start playing with acid. He was one of the most gifted musicians of all time. Folk, blues, ragtime, rock 'n' roll, jazz, calypso, R&B, modern classical--there was no musical genre that Jerry Garcia couldn't master. He was unique; he was a member of one of the most worshiped rock 'n' roll bands in history. But much of Garcia's talent and intelligence has been obscured by the larger than life image of the Grateful Dead. Now, renowned journalist Blair Jackson strips away the myth in a portrait of the real Jerry Garcia--the musical genius, the brilliant songwriter, and ultimately, the tortured soul plagued by his own addiction.
Garcia: An American Life is the ultimate look at "a wounded warrior." Jackson, who covered the Grateful Dead for twenty-five years, has gained unique access to Garcia's family and intimate friends--from his first wife Sara to band members and band associates. In a book to be published on the fourth anniversary of Garcia's death, Jackson explores his life with sensitivity and insight. This is the ultimate tribute to the man who, Bob Dylan said, "had no equal."
Anyone who ever attended a Grateful Dead show knows all too well how many "fans" virtually ignored the music in their pursuit of fun. What's worse, scores of closed-minded music critics dismissed the music out of hand simply because of the antics of these so-called fans. Author Blair Jackson sets out on a commendable mission to bring Jerry Garcia the musician
into clear focus. Tapping his experience as both a devout Deadhead and a veteran journalist, Jackson's mission is a roaring success. He painstakingly details every musical turn that the Dead took and discusses every side project Garcia embarked on--from the endless stream of bluegrass, old-time, and jug bands of the early 1960s through collaborations both famous and obscure. (Even dedicated fans may not know of Garcia's futile attempt at joining Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys.) Garcia emerges as a talented, versatile, and obsessive musician with a voracious appetite for all forms of music--as long as it came from the heart.
In the process of documenting his musical career, Jackson also presents a picture of Garcia's fascinating offstage life, including the events and inspiration that translated into songs and solos. The author conducted scores of interviews with Garcia himself and with anyone else who could provide insight into Garcia's personality. While never glossing over the unseemly aspects of Garcia's life, Jackson doesn't dwell on them either. In fact, he openly offers connections between Garcia's drug use and his music when they prove appropriate. Neophytes may be turned off by the constant detailed references to specific songs and shows--even particular sound effects--but for the avid follower, Jackson's comprehensive book is a wonderful celebration of an underrated and misunderstood musician. --Marc Greilsamer