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22 Years Ago Today: Portland Honors Jerry Garcia

When the news came over the AP teletype machine here at WBLM, I was stunned to read that Jerry Garcia had died suddenly a week after his 53rd birthday.  No one knew that he was at a rehab clinic. It was common knowledge that his years of hard drug use and diabetes were taking a toll. But, we all wanted to believe he was going to get better. Just before the Classic Lunch Hour, I went into the Blimp Studio to let Tommy C know that Jerry passed. He offered his condolences with an expression that you would give someone who just lost a family member. For Deadheads, we had. Tommy then suggested that I announce Jerry’s death. When the mic went on I tearfully reported, “A nurse went in to wake up Jerry Garcia this morning at a rehabilitation clinic in Forest Knolls, California. He didn’t open his eyes.” After the announcement, we did the only thing we could. It was all songs from the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia from then on and into the night. Later that evening, a huge tie-dyed crowd gathered just outside our studio here at One City Center and did the only thing they could. Portland Deadheads came together for a candle-light vigil on Monument Square. We set up the PA on our patio overlooking the heart of the city. The sweet, magical music Jerry had given us for 30 years was filling the air under a bright, beautiful moon. I swear that I saw his smiling face in it. The next day, we had an even bigger gathering in OOB. It was the H.O.R.D.E. Festival with Blues Traveler and the Black Crowes. Every song, every dance, every hug, every smile was for Jerry.

The Jerry Garcia Band played at the Civic Center on November 9, 1993. Here is a cover of Shining Star by the Manhattans that will definitely get you choked up. He looks really happy to be with us here in Portland. Thank you LessThanFace Productions for this memorable video.

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