When I think of Garcia, I think of him unselfishly encouraging and inspiring others, his joy of creation and discovery, and his love of music.
I am deeply saddened by his passing. For him: because he wasn't really done this lifetime. For us: for the same reason.
Before the Grateful Dead or even the Warlocks, Jerry and I were driving in his Corvair up from Palo Alto to Berkeley to see the Kentucky Colonels play. "Together Again" came on the radio [by Buck Owens], with that memorable solo by Tom Brumley. We both listened in reverent awe, and said, "Man, we gotta learn pedal steel." Between the two of us, I was the first to get a steel and start playing, and that's how I ended up playing on Aoxomoxoa.
When Jerry came back from a tour with a brand new ZB Custom double-10 pedal steel, he absolutely immersed himself in the instrument. I remember going over to his house to see it. He had me playing guitar as soon as I walked in the door, and singing every song I knew, so he could boink around and play backups and solos. Later that day, I showed him some things that I had discovered on the steel, including parts of "Together Again." He got good real fast and had a wonderfully unique style.
About a year later he got another steel, and loaned me the ZB, because the pedal steel I had was quite a clunker. Mine had pedals like a 2-ton truck clutch, and knee levers to match. Using the ZB really helped me get a job with my first country band, and helped me get good. Later, after I added 3 more knee levers, and was playing regularly in a really good country band, I shared my enthusiasm over using the instrument with Jerry. He said, "Well, if you like it that much, I think you ought to keep it." It's a great sounding instrument, and 25 years later, still finds its way into the studio to the delight of recording artists and engineers. And me.
So, today, shortly after I heard the news, I sat down at the ZB, played "Together Again," and played the hell out of it. For Jerry.
Thanks, man. I love you.
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Check out David Gans' book Not Fade Away--The Online World Remembers Jerry Garcia.
It has eloquent and fond rememberances of JG. On David Gans' website, there's a picture from a party for the book release where David and Henry Kaiser and I played.
Pete Grant * PO Box 6554 * Auburn, CA 95603 * USA
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