August 2, 2012 12:16 AM EST
Jerry Garcia, the Late Grateful Dead Guitarist, Would Have Turned 70 Wednesday
Wednesday marks what would've been Jerry Garcia's 70th birthday. Garcia, who died on Aug. 9, 1995 of an apparent heart attack, was best known for his lead guitar work and songwriting for the Grateful Dead.
Garcia, who was a founding member of The Grateful Dead, performed over three decades with several key members including Bob Weir (guitar; vocals), Phil Lesh (bass; vocals), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), Mickey Hart (drums) and Ron McKernan (keyboards, organ, harmonica, vocals). Some of the band's hit songs included Truckin', Casey Jones, Touch of Grey, and Sugar Magnolia.
The band, which formed in 1965 in San Francisco, was recognized for its unique psychedelic style, which fused rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country and improvisational jazz. The music was often stretched into long live performances, which eventually became the foundation of band's reputation. It disbanded after Garcia's death in 1995.
The Grateful Dead ranked 57th in Rolling Stone magazine's "100 Greatest Artists" and the band was inducted in 1994 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The Grateful Dead's Barton Hall concert at Cornell University on May 8, 1977 was recently added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry. The national recording registry, which includes rare 1930s audio interviews with former American slaves to pop recordings from Donna Summer, includes 25 sounds that helped shape "America's sound heritage," said Librarian of Congress James Billington in announcing the final selections in May.
Garcia, who was the glue of the band, thrived both as a member of the Dead and as a solo artist. He also contributed to a number of albums by other artists as a session musician.
He also founded a number of side projects, including the Saunders-Garcia Band, with longtime friend Merl Saunders; Jerry Garcia Band; Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo; Legion of Mary; and the New Riders of the Purple Sage, which he co-founded with John Dawson and David Nelson.
Well known for his distinctive guitar playing, Garcia was ranked 13th by Rolling Stone's senior writer David Fricke on his "100 Greatest Guitarists" list.
Click "start" to check out pictures of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead.