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The Year Jerry Died


On August 9, 1995 I was eight years-old, soon to be nine. My family and I hadn’t been in the new house for long, but in my memory it doesn’t feel any different from the home I call home today. I don’t remember exactly where I was or from what source I heard the news, but I learned that Jerry Garcia had died early that morning and that it would be a very sad day.

I remember Stefanie, a childhood friend of mine and my brothers’, being out of town (come to think of it, it may have been me that was out of town). Stefanie would later tell me how much she cried that day. Being a few years older and as someone I looked up to, I gauged the magnitude of Jerry’s death off of her reaction. If Stephanie was crying, then there was reason to be sad. I also looked to my brothers who, second to my father, were two of the biggest influences on my taste in music. Their reactions let me feel the seriousness of what happened.

I wish I could say more about that day, but at such a young age my memory is mostly made up of brief images and the response of those around me. I took note of the year and would always recognize it as the year that Jerry died. Even though it hadn’t been my era, I knew that ’95 was the end of one. Today, I realize that that day was also the beginning of a new era. Thanks to the “former” members of the Grateful Dead, Jerry’s spirit and music is very much alive today. Because of their gracious dedication, it is easier to celebrate than to mourn on this day so, celebrate is what I’ll do.

Thanks Jerry!

“This is an invitation across the nation the chance for folks to meet
There’ll be swinging, swaying, music playing and dancing in the street”

Dancin’ in the Streets

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/09/2010 4:02 pm

    I cannot believe that was 15 years ago – I was 16 years old and I remember feeling sad that I’d never get to see him in concert. Some people think it’s silly to mourn the death of a musician/artist we’ve never even met. But the music can trigger such strong memories – you hear a song and you remember what you were doing, who you were with and how you felt the first time you heard it.

    Thanks for sharing – :-)

  2. Elizabeth Dyer permalink
    08/10/2010 2:19 pm

    I cried all day that day. It was the day I was leaving the US to return to the Middle East with my new son and husband. My husband told all the people in the lounge at the airport that my father had just died as an explanation for why I was crying.
    Fifteen years gone

    • 08/10/2010 2:28 pm

      Thank you for sharing this Elizabeth :) I think in some ways Jerry was a father to a lot of people.

  3. Stef McCoy permalink
    08/12/2010 2:17 pm

    I definatly remember that day. I was out of town, in Virginia I think. I remember calling your brothers on the phone and sitting there crying for hours. Hard to believe that was like 15 years ago.

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