Requiem for the Dead

By Gates, David | Newsweek, August 21, 1995 | Go to article overview

Requiem for the Dead

Gates, David, Newsweek

When Jerry Garcia died last week, the Grateful Dead, the ultimate alternative band, d with him. up to mourn? As many Gen-X smarties as graybeard boomers.

JERRY GARCIA DID HIS LAST RECORDing session a month ago, on a Sunday in July. A week before, the Grateful Dead, Garcia's band for three decades, had just played what would be the last of their thousands of shows with him, at Soldier Field in Chicago, to a sellout crowd. The Dead hadn't played to an empty seat in years--that is, until the dancing started. In fact, they were probably the most popular concert attraction anywhere, ever. Those who were there say it wasn't their best show: the band sounded listless and Garcia forgot even more words than usual. Now, in the Marin County, Calif., home studio of the mandolinist David Grisman, an old friend he'd met in the parking lot at a bluegrass festival in 1963, he sang Jimmie Rodgers's "Blue Yodel No. 9"--Standin' on the corner, I didn't mean no harm/Along come a po-lice, he took me by the arm -- for a Rodgers tribute album being put together by Bob Dylan. It took a few takes to nail the song, but that was to be expected. Garcia didn't look well, but he sounded fine -- even pulled off the yodel. Who knew the guy could yodel?

The next day, Garcia checked into the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., to try to deal with the heroin habit he'd been trying to deal with for years--that and his smoking and his eating. He had a million projects in mind, he'd gotten married for a third time just last year, the oldest of his four daughters was getting married next month--he was to give away the bride--and he wanted to be clean r the Dead's fall tour. He'd been busted in 1985 with coke and heroin, and his health had been intermittently lousy since 1986, when he came out of a diabetic coma so neurologically scrambled he had to relearn guitar. In 1992, the Dead had to cancel tour dates when he collapsed from exhaustion. (For most celebrities, this is a euphemism. For Garcia, it meant exhaustion--though his obesity, enlarged heart and congested lungs cried out for more than a good night's sleep.) He stayed at the Betty Ford two weeks, then checked out. Aug. 1 was his 53d birthday; friends say he didn't want to spend it in rehab.

A week later, he checked into a small private clinic, Marin County's Serenity Knolls; his doctor says he'd already detoxed, had turned the corner and "wanted to live." Two years before, Garcia had told a Rolling Stone interviewer he'd been scared into taking better care of himself. "I mean, it's a powerful incentive," he'd said, "the possibility that, hey, if you keep going the way you are, in two years you're going to be dead." Around 4 in the morning last Wednesday, Aug. 9, a Serenity Knolls counselor walked by and noticed Garcia had stopped snoring.

Within an hour, news of his death, apparently from a heart attack, had gotten onto the Internet, the dimensionless digital commune where something like the anarchic spirit of the '60s counterculture now resides. (Stockbrokers also got early word; the news was flashed on the Dow Jones tape.) Unlike the Beatles, the Grateful Dead never truly crossed over into mainstream musical culture: their best-selling single, "A Touch of Grey" (1987), went only to No. 9, and you'll never hear "Dark Star" in an elevator--unless you've been taking something you shouldn't. Yet the avuncular-going-grandfatherly Garcia had gradually become as beloved a personage as the charming, changeable, sometimes overearnest John Lennon. His thin, shaky voice suggested that you, too, could sing with a band if you loved doing it enough; his guitar-playing radiated joy and ease, without a trace of guitar-hero affectation; and his increasing portliness, a trial to Garcia himself, clearly gave others a sense of comfort. Sting, with whom he played shows in 1993, called him Father Christmas; fans compared him to everything from a teddy bear to the deity. "He went to great extremes to make everybody feel he was nothing special," says David Grisman. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Requiem for the Dead


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.