Culture | 02.27.2023

Jerry Garcia’s Legacy Lives On

Learn more about the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, powerhouse guitarist, and cannabis advocate.

Only a few people are synonymous with west coast counterculture. Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead is undoubtedly one of them.

The talented musician, songwriter, and guitarist was born in 1942. Although his music brought him to fame, his family launched a cannabis brand to continue his legacy. Jerry smoked weed for the first time when he was 15 years old in 1957. He’s been quoted saying the following in an interview with Rolling Stone;

“Me and a friend of mine went up into the hills with two joints, the San Francisco foothills, and smoked these joints and just got so high and laughed and roared and went skipping down the streets doing funny things and just having a helluva time.”

Jerry Garcia‘s influence on music throughout the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s was prevalent. He was praised for his musical dexterity, especially on the guitar. As a west coast icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, we’re honoring Jerry Garcia‘s impact on music and why his family launched a cannabis brand in his legacy.

Early Days

Born Jerome John Garcia in the Excelsior District of San Francisco, California, the August-born Leo was named after the composer Jerome Kern. Music was an essential part of his life growing up, having taken piano lessons throughout childhood and watching his family sing during gatherings.

Jerry‘s father was a retired professional musician, and his mother loved playing the piano, so Jerry‘s knack for music wasn’t surprising. Although many know Jerry Garcia as a wiz on the guitar, the first instrument he ever played was the banjo, and he would later give banjo and guitar lessons.

In fact, one of Jerry‘s first students was Bob Matthews, who engineered a handful of albums by the Grateful Dead. When it came time to form a band, the group, including Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Bob Weir, and other friends, went through a few names before they landed on the Grateful Dead.

At first, they were Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions and later became the Warlocks, where Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann joined the band. However, they realized the name was taken by another band, which we know now as the Velvet Underground.

So, Jerry Garcia opened a dictionary and landed on “Grateful Dead,” which was defined as “a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial.” The band didn’t like the name too much, but as they became more popular, the name stuck like glue.

Grateful Dead

When you think of Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia is the first musician to come to mind. He was the main songwriter and lead guitarist of the band and was also a vocalist alongside the other members. Jerry was too humble to accept that he was the leader of the Grateful Dead, but he was very much the band’s shining star.

Grateful Dead rose to fame around the same time as the drug and counterculture movement in the 1960s. The band was incredibly successful for 30 years, and Garcia was one of the core members that’s been with the Grateful Dead since its inception.

Jerry Garcia was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, a year before his death. In 2003, Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” ranked Jerry Garcia as #13. He was also a celebrated solo musician with a few albums and was heavily sought after by other successful recording artists to use Jerry as a session musician.

Called Out By The Government

Did Jerry Garcia smoke weed? Well, is the sky blue? For a band that was made prominent during the 1960s counterculture movement, it’s pretty clear that Garcia liked weed. In fact, during Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, the American government called out Jerry and his band members for using drugs.

In 1967, The Grateful Dead was staying at 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco when someone made an anonymous tip to the cops and got the band’s residence raided on suspicion of marijuana use. What’s surprising is that Lesh, Weir, and McKernan were arrested on marijuana charges, but Garcia wasn’t. Although the charges were dropped, President Nixon used Garcia‘s photograph to slander drug use for one of his campaigns in 1968.

Although cannabis and LSD were popular among the group, Garcia struggled with heroin addiction for nearly a decade, ending in 1986. The band actually held an intervention for Garcia in ’85, and he later checked into an Oakland rehab center. Just days after the intervention, Garcia was arrested for drug possession and attended a diversion program. It wasn’t until a year later that he became clean.

Garcia Hand Picked

Although he passed away in 1995, Garcia‘s legacy lives on. His family launched Garcia Hand Picked, a brand that immortalizes Jerry‘s perfectionism and love for weed with carefully curated strains hand-picked by the Garcia family.

“People trust us to make the right decisions. We’ve hand-picked the best possible partners for the brand and my dad’s legacy,” notes the brand’s website, a quote from one of Jerry‘s daughters Theresa, aka Trixie.

Trixie, Annabelle, and Sunshine were given a blank canvas to create a brand that Jerry would be proud of. They carefully curated their lineup of strains, using original and unique genetics worthy enough of their own song.

The Garcia family partnered with expert cultivators and joint rollers to ensure cannabis users and fans of the Grateful Dead can experience quality cannabis they’re certain Jerry would use himself. The brand pays homage to the transcendent combination of cannabis and music, something Jerry Garcia knew all about and was keen to share with others.

Garcia Hand Picked not only strives to honor the legacy of Jerry but to help you reconnect with everything beautiful in this lifetime. But, most importantly, they want to help you have fun.

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