Jerry Garcia, (born Jerome John Garcia), (August 1, 1942 - August 9, 1995) is famous as guitarist and primary singer and lyricist of the psychedelic rock band The Grateful Dead, though his extensive career involved many other projects. He has become one of the most intently studied musicians in history. Garcia started on the piano, moved to guitar, and eventually became a master on many stringed instruments, despite the loss of a finger in his youth.
Garcia was born in San Francisco, California. After an aborted career in the US army, he became involved in the psychedelic revolution and subsequent musical movement brewing in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid 1960s. Garcia's outlet was music, and his subsequent involvement with the Grateful Dead was to see his fame burgeon. He even met one future member of the Grateful Dead when he was teaching the guitar. From 1965 to 1995, the band toured almost constantly, developing a fan base, known as Dead Heads, renowned for their intensity and devotion. Many of these fans dedicated their lives to following the Dead from concert to concert, making a living by vending in the parking lot before shows.
In addition to the Grateful Dead (who very frequently toured for long periods), Garcia had numerous side projects, the most notable being the Jerry Garcia Band. The Jerry Garcia Band had several different personnel lineups, often described as Legion of Mary, Reconstruction, and finally The Jerry Garcia Band. He was also involved with various acoustic vehicles such as Old and In the Way and other bluegrass bands, including collaborations with David Grisman.
Having studied art at the California Academy of Art, he made a second career around the uses of his art on ties, and later Birkenstocks.
In 1987, ice cream manufacturers Ben and Jerry named one of their flavors Cherry Garcia after this musician.
Jerry Garcia died on August 9, 1995 of heart trouble. On his passing, he was even honored by the president as being an American icon.