25 Years Ago Maine Deadheads Gather On Monument Square For Jerry
When the news came over the AP teletype machine here at WBLM, we were stunned and saddened 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 mighty toll. But, we all wanted to believe he was going to get better.
On August 9, 1995, just before the WBLM 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. As devoted Deadheads, we had.
Tommy then suggested that I be the one to announce Jerry’s death. When the mic switch turned on, I tearfully reported these words, “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. "Just listen to the music play." - Franklin's Tower
It was all songs from the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia on the Blimp airwaves from that moment 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...just be with each other. Portland Deadheads came together for a candlelight 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 Cumberland County Civic Center on November 9, 1993. It was his last performance in Maine.
Here is a cover of Shining Star by the Manhattans he played that night. It might put a lump in your throat and a tear on your cheek. Jerry looks really happy to be with us here in Portland. Kudos to LessThanFace Productions for this gem of video, a beautiful way to honor Jerry Garcia on the 25 anniversary of his passing
Jerry, thank you for being a "Shining Star" for all the Deadheads in Blimpville that still guides us today.
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