A man of charismatic light, Jerome John Garcia (1942-1995), born on this day in San Francisco, was named after Broadway composer Jerome Kern.
When he was four, he lost his middle finger in a wood chopping accident, but that did not stop him from learning the guitar or forming the Grateful Dead, a band of former folkies transformed by 60s flower power and psychedelics.
Garcia once said of the band's mission, "You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do."
And the band did just that. Their concerts were celebrations of improvisational rock. For three decades, a legion of fans, Deadheads, followed them around the country to hear them play what Garcia called, "gold, pure magic."
The popular Grateful Dead played four hour shows, three nights in a row and fans would never hear the same song twice.
"Our audience is like people who like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice," described Garcia.
"There's no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or as a player,'' eulogized Bob Dylan. "He really had no equal. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There's no way to convey the loss.''
Look for the light.