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The Day Jerry Garcia’s Ashes Were Spread in India and San Francisco

Ebet Roberts, Getty Images
Ebet Roberts, Getty Images

After Jerry Garcia died at age 53 on Aug. 9, 1995, a private funeral was held two days later for family and friends. A public memorial took place on Aug. 13 at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park’s Polo Fields. Eight months later, in April 1996, the Grateful Dead leader’s ashes were spread in two different locations, and most of his family wasn’t too thrilled by this.

Bandmate Bob Weir and Garcia’s widow, Deborah Koons Garcia, took Jerry’s ashes to India to distribute half of them in the Ganges River, an incident that angered his daughters, among others. “This was all done 100 percent without our knowledge,” Annabelle Garcia told the San Francisco Gate at the time. “It is gut-churning, to say the least.”

Garcia’s ex-wife, Carolyn (better known to longtime fans as Mountain Girl), was also shocked and surprised by this decision. “There was no reason on Earth to take Jerry’s ashes to India, a country he’d never been to, and dump them into the most polluted river on the face of the Earth,” she told the same paper.

According to the article, none of Garcia’s four daughters, or his surviving brother Cliff, were consulted or even notified of the plan to take the ashes to India.

The remaining half of Garcia’s ashes were later sprinkled under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay, “in accordance with his expressed wishes,” as daughter Annabelle stated. She, along with her sisters Heather and Trixie were on hand, as were Weir, Dead bassist Phil Lesh and his wife and several other extended family and associates. Deborah Koons Garcia was there, but she refused to allow Mountain Girl to take part in the ceremony.

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