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Jerry Garcia
Photographer Unknown.
Jerry Garcia
1969. Photo © Robert Altman.
Erowid Character Vaults
Jerry Garcia
Summary
Jerry Garcia, aka "Captain Trips", was best known as the much loved leader of the countercultural band the Grateful Dead. He was born Jerome John Garcia in San Francisco, California to a musical immigrant family. His grandfather insisted that all his sons and grandchildren learn to play an instrument. Jerry's father was a swing-band leader and his mother was a nurse, but also played the piano. Jerry learned to play guitar when he was a teen and played both bluegrass and rock/blues. At the age of 15 he discovered cannabis to which he developed an immediate liking. Two years later he dropped out of high school and shortly thereafter joined the army. He was eventually discharged after two court martials and eight AWOLs showed that the army life wasn't for him.

Garcia lived in Palo Alto during the late 50s and early to mid-60s, where he met several of the members of the band as well as characters such as Ken Kesey and Owsley Stanley. Jerry dealt with heroin addiction on and off for many years, but he and the band maintained a huge following for more than 30 years. He died of heart failure in 1995 while staying at a treatment center.