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Week in Rock History: Jerry Garcia Dies

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August 8, 1992: A riot breaks out after a Guns N'Roses and Metallica show after singer James Hetfield is injured during Metallica's set

When it comes to Murphy's Law concerts, none can beat the Guns N' Roses/Metallica debacle in Montreal in 1992: near-fatal stage accidents, faltering equipment and full-fledged street rampaging.

The two bands'co-headlining tour was a communion of giants: Guns N' Roses were in the thick of their top-selling Use Your Illusion Tour (in support of both albums I and II), and Metallica were enjoying similar fervor for their "Wherever We May Roam" Tour for the Black Album. However, their spliced-together road trip met disaster when they stopped by Montreal's Olympic Stadium: Metallica singer James Hetfield suffered second-degree burns when he crossed paths with the show's pyrotechnics display, and the band's set was cut short. After a long delay that aggravated the crowd, Guns N' Roses took the stage and immediately complained about the inferior sound equipment; frontman Axl Rose was so upset about the sound and his sore throat that the band stormed off the stage early.

Short-changed by both headliners, the 50,000-plus Montreal audience exploded: They flooded the streets surrounding the amphitheatre, looting stores and trashing cars. Montreal police struggled for hours to reign in the mob. Back in Seattle, Kurt Cobain surely breathed a sigh of relief: Nirvana had been asked to open the tour, and they'd refused.

August 9, 1995: Jerry Garcia dies of a heart attack
Grateful Dead lead guitarist Jerry Garcia was on the mend when he met his untimely death. The bearded figurehead of the freewheeling psych-jammers had checked himself into a California rehab center to kick his persistent drug addictions, but he succumbed there to a heart attack. He was 53.

Garcia was a fleet guitarist – who, ironically, lost part of his right middle finger in a childhood accident –and one of the lead singers of the Dead. (He usually fronted their more melodic tunes.) His languid playing served as the crux of the band's legendary live performances, and he was a galvanizing figure of the band's nonstop touring ethos, the so-called "endless tour" that kept the band on the road for thousands of shows from their formation in the mid-Sixties through the next four decades. He also fronted the Jerry Garcia Band, a rock-based side outfit that released 1978's amiable Cats Under the Stars.

After Garcia's death, the Grateful Dead formally disbanded.

LAST WEEK: Guns N' Roses Top the Charts

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