Today is the birthday of the legendary frontman of the Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia whose music and lifestyle was near the center of cannabis culture along with psychedelics.
He would have been 78. Jerry Garcia died in 1995 at the age of 53.
The cannabis number 420 came from its usage by high school students in Northern California who became close to the Dead. The group, known as “The Waldos” would meet up at a statue of chemist Louis Pasteur at 4:20 pm after school to indulge in cannabis.
The Grateful Dead to this day remains a well-known psychedelic band whose rainbow bears and skull logos have become icons.
Simpsons voice actor Harry Scherer once wrote a passionate letter to defend the band when they were faced with possession charges after the police raided their home. They were targeted at the beginning of President Richard Nixon’s launch of the War on Drugs.
Followers of the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia have become known as “Deadheads.” Many tribute bands attract Deadheads to large festivals. Deadheads are known to greatly enjoy consuming cannabis in general.
Many plans to celebrate Jerry Garcia’s birthday likely had to be canceled due to COVID.
Tom Wolfe’s book The Electric Kool-Ad Acid Test features their early concerts in the hippie acid scene of San Francisco’s Height Ashbury neighborhood. Members of the band were immersed in the scene themselves and met through it.
Garcia himself composed “Dark Star”, “Franklin’s Tower” and other well-known Dead songs.
Ben and Jerry named the ice cream flavor “Cherry Garcia” after him. It remains quite popular.
Jerry Garcia’s songs are still played regularly on classic rock radio stations. A documentary on Netflix features them.