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History of the Grateful Dead1

Throughout the years The Grateful Dead was forced to overcome many obstacles to arrive at the point in which they are today. In San Francisco, on August 1, 1942, Jerome John Garcia was born. This marked the beginning of a long strange trip (Mokrzycki 4) Jose Garcia, Jerome’s father named his son after his favorite Broadway musical composer, Jerome Kern. Tired of the name Jerome, Jose and his family began to call him Jerry. Garcia was surrounded by music as a child. His father would play him to sleep at night, the clarinet’s lovely melodies echoing in Jerry’s dreams. His mother listened to opera and his maternal grandmother loved country music. Family gatherings tended to be musical, too, for his father’s side of the family would gather round and sing songs together. (Troy 3) Young Jerry and his family took a trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains in California, when he was four, he and his brother who he called “Tiff” were given the job of splitting firewood for the family that night. Horsing around, Jerry and “Tiff” were teasing each other while chopping the firewood. Jerry accidently placed his hand in the way of the axe, lost half of his middle finger on his right hand. “He screamed. I screamed. We both screamed. It was an accident. I didn’t do it maliciously. I was a kid. I was eight and Jerry was four. We were little guys” ( Greenfield 5). Missing half a finger, Jerry had to press through life learning different types of instruments. He used his disability to his advantage by striving harder. A year after the loss of Jerry’s finger, tragedy struck the Garcias’ again. Fly fishing in a river when the current was too strong to be wading in, Jose Garcia suddenly lost his footing and was swept away by the raging current. Fortunately Jerry did not witness his father’s death, he only heard the stories that his family members ...

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