Examines the life and times of Jerry Garcia, capturing the psychedelic world of the musician and songwriter, his relationship with members of the Grateful Dead, his battle with drug addiction, and his lasting influence on popular music.
Waiting for magic to happen
By William Wood - June 6, 2002
Blair Jackson had the opportunity to write the definitive biography of Jerry Garcia but faltered when Garcia's history (and his bandmates)became difficult.Jackson aims for the old Garcia as Buddha schtick without ever coming to grips with the contradictions and complexities of this mans life. How is it that Jackson can provide us with intimate details of Garcias childhood but then skims over the years from 1974 to 1976 a period of intense creativity for Garcia. It is at this point in the book that Jackson changes direction and his book becomes an "authourised biography" and Garcia deserves better than that.Rock Scully in his book "Living with the Dead" captures the mood of the Grateful Dead and indeed the spirit of the Grateful Dead with clarity and ease, Jackson could have learned a thing or two from that book .Instead he takes Scully to task as to the accuracy of his book( although he fails to mention why he never cleared those issues up on the two... read more
Truly An American Life
By crescent - December 9, 2002
Blair Jackson's biography of Jerry Garcia is fascinating. "An American Life" is a particularly appropriate title because of the breadth of Jerry's musical influences. The chapters dealing with Jerry's early days as a bluegrass banjoist were especially interesting. Jerry clearly embraced the entire gamut of American music, including mountain music, folk, jazz, blues and gospel. Mix all of these ingredients with a healthy batch of rock and roll and you have the Grateful Dead.Jackson writes rhapsodically of the Dead's role in the psychedelic period of the 60's, and brilliantly brings that era back to life. The exploits of Neal Cassady, Ken Kesey, and the Merry Pranksters and their relationship with Jerry is a highlight of the book. The tales of Jerry's drug use are harrowing. His life took a downward spiral when cocaine and heroin replaced marijuana and LSD as his drugs of choice. Nevertheless, his passion for music and performing was undiminished. Jerry's all encompassing... read more
If my words could glow.....
By A Customer - January 21, 2004
It turns out that writing books about The Grateful Dead is a lot like writing books about the Beatles; highly speculative, frequently pointless and ultimately frustrating, unless you're somebody like Ken Kesey or Ed McClanahan, writers who were there with the Dead from the start and speak the language. That said, Blair Jackson gets as close as anyone totally caught in the Dead's warp can to writing a definitive book on Garcia. Jackson's Deadhead banter sometimes gets in the way of, you know, communicating about why the rest of us should consider Jerry Garcia one of the greats. Mind you, I think he is, but the proof is ultimately in listening to one of the Dead's many live albums (and some of the studio ones as well) or Garcia's other records and HEARING why, not reading much of what's here. What IS worth the time is the extensive discography Jackson has at the end, which is a reliable signpost for what a non-Deadhead fan or a Dead newbie might find worth the time and money. In sum,... read more
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