"I read somewhere that 77 percent of all the mentally ill live in poverty. Actually, I'm more intrigued by the 23 percent who are apparently doing quite well for themselves." - Jerry Garcia
Despite the enormous esteem he has garnered from virtually every corner of the music world, Jerry Garcia has continued to elude both fans and music historians as they attempt to determine his origins and categorize his art and influence on American music. Part of their difficulty lies in the fact that his work as the frontman for the Grateful Dead, "one of the most prolific and iconic guitarists of the twentieth century", tended toward a blending of the traditional with the experimental. He was willing to use almost any and every available ethnic musical resource. Garcia's passionate interest in virtually every nook and cranny of American music, particularly rural music, made the task of following his concepts from moment to moment an unpredictable and inexact science. In his explorations and elaborations on old musical treasures, whether familiar or obscure, he fully indulged in almost all of them at one time or another. For Garcia, this was not a career move but a joyous personal search to create a vast palette of harmonic, rhythmic, and textural escapades.
As an iconic example of the "communitarian, drug-positive hippie subculture of Haight-Ashbury", and fulfilling all the expectations of the devotees who immersed themselves in the era's music, Garcia could just as easily draw from classical music as he could from American jazz. He performed highly regionalized blues in all of their dialects, along with country music, numerous shades of rock music, and any combination of all of them.
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