100 Greatest Guitarists

46

Jerry Garcia

jerry garcia
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Most people who play the blues are very conservative. They stay a certain way. Jerry Garcia was painting outside the frame. He played blues but mixed it with bluegrass and Ravi Shankar. He had country and Spanish in there. There was a lot of Chet Atkins in him – going up and down the frets. But you could always hear a theme in his playing. It's like putting beads on a string, instead of throwing them around a room. Jerry had a tremendous sense of purpose. When you take a solo, decide what to say, get there and give it to the next guy. That's how Jerry worked in the Dead. Jerry was the sun of the Grateful Dead – the music they played was like planets orbiting around him. He wasn't a superficial guy at all. It was a lot of fun to play with him, because he was very accommodating. He'd go up and down; I'd go left and right. And I could tell he enjoyed it, because the Dead always invited me back.

Key Tracks: "Dark Star," "Sugaree," "Casey Jones"

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