Jerry Garcia. Probably The Most Generous Musician To Ever Live :
His last show with The Grateful Dead may have been 27 years ago today at Soldier Field in Chicago, but as the last few years have proved, Jerry Garcia is more alive than ever!
With five sold out Anniversary shows in both California and again at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2015, hundreds of thousands people showed up to show respect to not only one of the greatest musicians to ever walk the planet, but also one of the most generous in all of music history.
There was nothing fake about Jerry, what you saw is what you got. He never looked at himself as a superstar. He split all profits and royalties equally with his band mates, even with members that came later like Brent Mydland.
Each member of The Grateful Dead made the same amount of money. And even though he could’ve made the argument that a Grateful Dead Show could’ve gone on without any member of the band with the exception of him, he even kept his end-of-the-tour bonuses at the same amount as his other band mates.
How many band leaders or superstar members of a group do you think would do that?
Garcia allowed fans to record his music at concerts, even having a special “tapers section”, when other bands would never allow it. At the time many other bands and artists called him and his band crazy for agreeing to it. Saying they would live to regret it. Well history proves now that it was the opposite. The Grateful Dead have made a very lucrative business now being able to sell recordings of their thousands of shows both in audio and video.
Other bands from the same era now wish they had that same way of thinking, especially groups who tried so hard to fight the bootleggers that they hardly have any high-quality video or audio documentation of their historical past.
In the last years of his life, Jerry should’ve been home resting as he was in poor health, but he stayed on the road to support everyone that was a part of Grateful Dead productions. Everyone from his bandmates to the person who swept his stage every show. Even giving all of his employees health insurance and 401K benefits before any other band ever envisioned that. When he died he left financial security for his three ex-wives and even ex-girlfriends. He even gave his legendary guitars back to the man that originally made them so he could sell for them a huge profit (which he did).
In the end it was the one major vice he had throughout his life that definitely contributed to the poor health he was in his final days. Jerry was proof that intelligent people do get addicted to bad drugs too. He died of a heart attack just over a month after his last show in a drug rehabilitation clinic. Such a huge loss to the music world but, as I personally got to see at the reunion show a few years ago at the greatest concert I have ever seen, his music is more alive and relevant than ever.
Jerry Garcia will always be one of my personal heroes. Imperfections and all.