Jerry Garcia: Authenticity and the Price of Admission

Photo courtesy of Bob Minkin

Today is Jerry Garcia’s 70th birthday. The head of  The Grateful Dead, The Dead Heads, a primetime player in The Merry Pranksters, and brilliant business man – Jerry’s uncompromising stance on authenticity is legendary. He never sold out.

Though I never met him, the spirit of Jerry’s generosity was all around me as my first job in music allowed me many evenings hanging out with Ken Kesey, one of Jerry’s best friends. Kesey was a larger than life character living on his family’s farm just 20 miles or so down the road from where I grew up.

True to the values of his generation, Garcia’s best PR strategy for The Grateful Dead — for himself —  integrity.

In a New York Times “Message to Jerry” Kesey wrote:

You could be a sharp-tongued popper of balloons when you were so inclined, you know. You were the sworn enemy of hot air and commercials, however righteous the cause or lucrative the product. Nobody ever heard you use that microphone as a pulpit. No antiwar rants, no hymns to peace. No odes to the trees and All Things Organic. No ego deaths or born-againness. No devils denounced, no gurus glorified. No dogmatic howlings that I ever caught wind of. In fact, your steadfast denial of dogma was as close as you ever came to having a creed.

The Dead played music for their fans instead of themselves.  Their fans were part of the Tribe, and treated like family. In turn, the Tribe took to heart the old proverb, “many hands lighten the load.” They were true blue loyals with a love so deep, that light shines just as brightly today as it did throughout the Grateful Dead’s career.

There were no ivory towers as far as I can tell in Jerry’s life. There are plenty of experts out there on the man and the brand, I don’t espouse to be one. However, I think so many emerging artists of all disciplines could benefit from Jerry’s common sense, every man for himself approach.  Instead of sucking up all the junk we are spoon fed about what’s going to work in a marketplace that changes daily, take stock in the world and what works to your benefit daily.

You can’t buy love, integrity or charisma. Jerry just naturally had more of these ingredients than most men can hope to earn in a lifetime.

Thanks to Bob Minkin for use of his photo. View much of Bob’s work at:


About scout66

2017 marks the 33rd year of Janet Hansen’s career as a music marketing specialist. With three Grammy award-winning campaigns to her credit, Hansen has also contributed to the legacy of two of history’s most popular songs. “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams is the most-broadcast instrumental tune in history; and “Louie, Louie” by The Fabulous Wailers is the most-recorded rock song in history. In 2009 Hansen launched the unique music platform Scout66 to encourage reviews of live shows from the ticket-buying public. You may contact Janet at for information on consulting, campaigns, and tour support. Please follow us on Twitter at
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One Response to Jerry Garcia: Authenticity and the Price of Admission

  1. jdobypr says:

    Reblogged this on The Urban Link and commented:
    This is definitely a man to take as an example for doing good business and being a real person to his group’s fans


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