American singer/guitarist/songwriter Jerry Garcia was widely known as the lead vocalist/guitarist for the Rock Band “Grateful Dead”; a band which he co-founded. Garcia performed with “Grateful Dead” for the whole thirty years of the band’s career. He was viewed as the leader of the band, but he had disputed the role. He was renowned for his exceptional technical/musical ability to play a variety of instruments. He was ranked 13 in “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” by “Rolling Stone” in 2013 and was ranked 46th in the 2015 version. He has also done several side projects apart from his work with “Grateful Dead”.

Quick Info
Full NameJerome John Garcia
Date of BirthAugust 1, 1942
Parent(s)Jose Ramon Garcia(Father)
Ruth Marie Garcia(Mother)
OccupationMusician, Songwriter
Net WorthUS $ 20 million
DiedAugust 9, 1995 (aged 53)


Early Life

Born on 1st August 1942 in San Fransisco to Jose Ramon Garcia and Ruth Marie Garcia, Jerry was the second child of the couple. His father was a retired musician and owned. He was influenced by music at a very young age, and he took piano lessons during his childhood. Two-third part of his middle finger was cut off by his brother in a wood-splitting accident when he was just four. Only after a year of the incident, Jerry lost his father in a fishing accident near Arcata.

Jerry Garcia

After the death of his father, his mother took full ownership of the bar and sent her children to live with their grandparents. While living there, Jerry Garcia was encouraged by his elementary teacher in the Monroe Elementary School after seeing his creative artistic abilities. It was around this time he started playing his first stringed instrument; The Banjo.


After his mother married Wally Matusiewicz in 1953, he along with his brother, moved with them and later moved to Menlo Park where he became aware with antisemitism and racism. He hated these things deeply. He was introduced to the Rock and Roll genre by his brother around the same year. While studying at the San Francisco Art Institute, he started smoking cigarettes and marijuana. He was taught by Wally Hedrick while attending the Institute who introduced him to the fiction of Jack Kerouac, which had a massive influence on Garcia.


Jerry Garcia graduated from Menlo Oaks School around 1957 after which he moved back to San Francisco with his family. During his 15th birthday, he got an accordion from his mother which he exchanged for a Danelectro after some pleading. He again moved to Cazadero in 1959 with his family where he attended the Analy High School. During his time in high school, he joined the school band Chords which was rewarded a song after winning a contest. He was forced to join the US Army after he stole his mother’s car in 1960 but was later given general discharge after having several AWOL counts.



Beginning of the Band

Jerry Garcia met Robert Hunter in 1961, who later became the lyricist for the band. The duo performed their first concert together which earned them $5 each. They also performed in bands with David Nelson. He met the band bassist, Phil Lesh in 1962 in a party in Perry lane neighbourhood. The trio started recording tunes at the local radio station KPFA having recorded “Matty Groves” and “The Long Black Veil”. Garcia began teaching guitar and banjo where he met his student Bob Matthews who later engineered many of the band’s songs. He met Bob Weir, songwriter for the band through Matthews in 1963.

Jerry Garcia

Garcia, along with the other members, founded the band Mother McCree around 1964. It was this time Garcia started using LSD. The band McCree was changed into Warlocks for the Uptown Jug Champions in 1965 but later changed its name to Graceful dead when the name Warlocks collided with another participant. The name soon became their official title.


With Grateful Dead

He served as the lead guitarist as well as the vocalist for the band. He has also composed songs like “Dark Star”, “Scarlet Begonias” and many others for the band. Garcia was famous for the little improvisations he made with the guitar. The band toured most of their time from 1965 until it disbanded after his death in 1995. “Scarlet Begonias”, “Bertha”, “Truckin”, “Touch of Grey” and “Casey Jones” are few of the most like songs from the band among several others.


Side Projects

He was also the Jerry Garcia Band along with the Grateful Dead. It was one of the most known project apart from Grateful dead. He was even a part of many acoustic and bluegrass band including Old & In the Way. During his lifetime he collaborated with several different bands and artists including “Legion of Mary” and “Reconstruction”.

He has also collaborated with guitarist Sanjay Mishra for the CD “Blue Incantation” and with Ned Lagin, David Crosby, Mickey Hart; drummer for Grateful Dead and Phil Lesh for albums like “Seastones”. Garcia was a part of “Soviet American Peace Walk Concert in 1988.

In late 1980s Garcia embraced Visual Arts as his second career and created several drawings, watercolours and etchings which were displayed by Weir Gallery from 1989 to 1996. He also adopted Digital Art media earlier than others.

Personal Lifestyle

He married Sara Ruppenthal in April of 1963. From the relationship, the couple has a daughter. They were divorced in 1967. He and Carolyn Adams got married in December of 1981. The couple has two children from the relationship. They were divorced in 1994. Garcia met his third wife in New York and got married in February of 1994. They were married until he died in 1995. He ruined his own lifestyle. He also had several other romantic relationships during his lifetime.

Jerry Garcia

Jerry had a mixed Spanish/Irish/Swedish ethnicity.

Garcia’s mother died in September 1970, a month after a car accident near Twin Peaks. He had diabetes and went into a diabetic coma in 1986, which made him re-learn the guitar after he woke up.

There is a Youtube Channel on the tribute of Jerry Garcia on which related videos are uploaded.


Net Worth

Jerry Garcia struggled with obesity, diabetes, sleep apnea, heroin, cocaine, and smoking until his death which decreases his net worth. He was even admitted to a California drug rehabilitation facility before his death.

He had a net worth of $20 million before his death.



Jerry Garcia left this world on 9th August 1995 after a heart attack in the Serenity Knolls Treatment Center eight days after his 53rd birthday leaving a legacy of his music behind. His funeral was held at St. Stephen Church which was attended by his family, friends and his band members. Hundreds and thousands of people gave him a tribute following his death.