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Jerry Garcia’s opinion on The Who

Jerry Garcia and The Who
Photos by Herb Greene and The Who's Facebook


Jerry Garcia’s opinion on The Who

Born in San Francisco, California in 1942, the guitarist, singer and songwriter Jerry Garcia was one of the driving forces of The Grateful Dead, one of the most successful American bands of all time. Known for their experimentation and live shows, the band constantly toured across the United States for three decades until the group came to an end after Garcia’s death in 1995 at the age of 53.


During his career, Jerry had the opportunity to meet many of his peers and even gave his opinion on some of them. The Grateful Dead had the opportunity to play on the same bill as The Who, for example, and Garcia once talked about the band.

What was Jerry Garcia’s opinion on The Who

The Who and The Grateful Dead were formed around the same era, 1964 and 1965, respectively, but of course, they were quite different. In 1976, both bands shared the bill for two days at the Oakland Coliseum Stadium. Two years later, in an interview in 1978, Garcia was asked about those shows and the British band.

He revealed he liked them but thought they could do more with their career. The Who was playing the exact same show for years and that was something Garcia couldn’t cope with.

After the interviewer recalled that The Grateful Dead did a show with The Who a few years before and called them “the original punks”. Jerry Garcia replied: (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage): “Yeah (We did a show with The Who, they were the original punks).”

“They’re great, I have a lot of respect. I admire what they do. However, I spoke with Pete Townshend before their set. He was telling me that they’ve been playing the same show for four years. I mean, the same show and they were sort of depressed about it. I mean, to have exactly the same numbers in exactly the same order for four years in a row is not exactly a sign of progress. Because the guys themselves are capable of more than that. They’re capable of better things,” Jerry Garcia said.

When both bands shared the bill Oakland, California, The Who had recently released their seventh studio album “The Who By Numbers” (1975). But was also promoting the classic material from their previous records.

Pete Townshend performed on stage with Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia

Originally written and recorded by the late Buddy Holly, the track “Not Fade Away” was adopted by The Grateful Dead. It became one of their signature songs over the years. In 1981, when they performed at Rockpalast in Germany, they had Pete Townshend as a special guest on stage.

He curiously said in an interview with The Broken Record Podcast (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) that The Grateful Dead could play anything they wanted. “I remember Bob Dylan, I said to him ‘Why you are doing so many shows? Why are you constantly on the road? You know, don’t you have a fucking life?’ You know, (he was) just on the fucking road all the time. He said, ‘Pete, I’m a Folk singer’ And I said ‘Yeah?’ And he said: ‘Well, what is a Folk singer?'”

“And I said: ‘Tell Me’. He said: ‘It’s a guy with a good memory for music, for songs. I’ve got 650 songs and I have to keep playing them, otherwise I’ll forget them. It was a bit like that with The Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead were a band that could play fucking anything that you came up with. So somebody in the crowd would sort of say ‘Play Beethoven’s fifth symphony!’ And they would have a go (laughs),” Pete Townshend said.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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