Jerry Garcia Live!

By Kaiser, Henry | Guitar Player, November 2007 | Go to article overview
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Jerry Garcia Live!

Kaiser, Henry, Guitar Player


MARCH 3, 1968. A 25-YEAR-OLD JERRY Garcia walks to work from the Grateful Dead's communal house at 710 Ashbury Street. His smile tells you he knows he has the best job in the world on this day, as he prepares to play a Haight Street free concert. By the time of his death in 1995, Garcia had gone on to become the most recorded guitarist in history. With more than 2,200 Grateful Dead concerts, and 1,000 Jerry Garcia Band concerts captured on tape--as well as numerous studio sessions--there are about 15,000 hours of his guitar work preserved for the ages.

A truly eclectic genius of the guitar, Garcia's tone and touch were instantly identifiable by the sound of just one note or phrase. His work encompassed and ranged freely through bluegrass, rock and roll, blues, jazz, country, and R&B, with streaks of decidedly strong influences from experimental and world musics. A melodic and reactive player, Garcia is perhaps the most chromatic of all rock guitarists in his note choices and ornamentation. He was a team player who always chose to serve the music in the context of the moment.

Steering away from the better-known studio albums of Garcia's work with the Dead, let's look into the variety of the fantastic live work that's available today. (All recordings are by the Grateful Dead unless otherwise noted.)


Live Dead, 1969

Fillmore West 1969

It's practically unanimous that the greatest single moment in the Dead's recording history is the version of the band's primary vehicle for extended improvisation, "Dark Star," that appears on the classic Live Deod. Also here is a recently released three-CD set of Garcia's equally worthwhile work-- recorded for Live Dean, but not included on that album--presenting a more complete state-of-his-art in 1969.

Rockin' the Rhein with the Grateful Dead, 1972

Europe 72

Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72

Hundred Year Hall 4-26-72

Here are four multiple-disc albums from the Dead's 1972 European tour. Most Dead fans agree that this is the high point of the Grateful Dead, and some of Garcia's very best work can be found here. It's interesting to hear how differently the repeated tunes turn out on different nights of this tour.

So Many Roods (1955-1995)

Inspired selection is the key feature of this five-disc, mostly live anthology of the Dead's complete fifes- pan. In the later years of Garcia's life. when his struggles with tobacco, drug addiction, weight problems.

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