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The 8 bands that Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia said he liked

Jerry Garcia
Photos by Herb Greene and John Atashian


The 8 bands that Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia said he liked

The guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia was one of the founders of The Grateful Dead, group that became of the most successful live bands from the United States. His career was sadly cut short back in 1995 when he died at the age of 53, victim of a heart attack.


Even though his band was known for their long jam sessions on stage and for their psychedelic sound, Garcia loved many other Rock and Roll genres. To show more of his musical taste, Rock and Roll Garage selected the 8 bands that Jerry Garcia said he liked.

The 8 bands that Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia said he liked

Cheap Trick

Cheap Trick, the band from Rockford, Ilinois, is certainly one of the groups that many Grateful Dead fans couldn’t imagine that Garcia but he praised them in an interview with WCMF back in 1978. (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) “Some of that stuff I really like a lot. The so called New Wave music. Well, I really like the band Cheap Trick. I like them a lot. They’re great. I think they’re really great. What I like about it is the spirit, you know.”

Cheap Trick was formed in 1973 and they first achieved fame in the late 70s with albums like “In Color” (1977), “Heaven Tonight” (1978) and “Dream Police” (1979). They have sold an estimated amount of 20 million records worldwide and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2016.

Pink Floyd

When Jerry Garcia talked in Relix magazine in 1980, Jerry Garcia was asked if he liked to listen to the radio and what kind of music he was listening to at that moment. The musician then listed a few bands and one of them was Pink Floyd. “Just the stuff that hit everybody. I like ‘The Wall’ a lot. Everybody likes that.”

Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was released in 1979 and had many classics like “”Another Brick in the Wall”, “Mother”, “Hey You” and “Comfortably Numb”.

The album became the band’s second best-selling album with over 30 million copies sold worldwide. “Dark Side Of The Moon” released 6 years before, in 1973, have sold an estimated amount of 45 million copies worldwide.

Dire Straits

Also talking with Relix in 1980, Jerry Garcia praised the British band Dire Straits, led by guitarist and vocalist Mark Knopfler.

“I don’t think there’s anybody who’s consistently putting out great stuff, time after time after time. But everybody’s got something to say and there’s moments in all of this that are real excellent. I go for the moments. I keep listening till I hear something that knocks me out. Dire Straits-I love that band. It’s hard not to like that band,” Jerry Garcia said.

He also had the chance to see the band live as he revealed in a conversation with Frets magazine in 1985. “The last band I went to see is Dire Straits. That was the last band I went to see live, a couple of years ago. There are others that I would, but most of the time I’m out working and stuff. So I don’t really get a chance,” Jerry Garcia said.

Dire Straits was formed in London, in 1977 by Mark Knopfler, David Knopfler, John Illsley and Pick Whiters. The band came to an end in 1995 after Mark Knopfler decided to pursue his solo career. They have sold an estimated amount of 120 million records worldwide. Also were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2018.

The Beatles

The Beatles were the most important Rock and Roll band of all time that influenced almost every artist since they appeared and it was not different with Jerry Garcia. The musician talked in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine back in 1972 about how inspiring the British band was. Over the decades he covered Beatles’ songs live many times.

“They were real important to everybody. They were a little model, especially the movies – the movies were a big turn-on. Just because it was a little model of good times. The Fifties were sure hurting for good times. And the early Sixties were very serious too – Kennedy and everything.”

“And the Beatles were light and having a good time and they were good too, so it was a combination that was very satisfying on the artistic level, which is part of the scene that I was into – the art school thing and all that.”

“The conscious thing of the artistic world, the Beatles were accomplished in all that stuff. It was like saying, “You can be young, you can be far out, and you can still make it.” They were making people happy. That happy thing – that’s the stuff that counts – something that we could all see right away,” Jerry Garcia said.

Bob Dylan

Another legendary musician that Jerry Garcia liked was Bob Dylan and he praised the musician in the 1972 interview with Rolling Stone magazine. “Dylan was able to tell you the truth about that other thing. He was able to talk about the changes that you’d go through, the bummers and stuff like that – and say it, and say it in a good way, the right way. I dug his stuff really from “Bringing It All Back Home.”

“Back in the folk music days I couldn’t really dig this stuff but on ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ he was really saying something that I could dig, that was relevant to what was going on in my life at the time. Whether he intended it that way or not is completely unimportant,” Jerry Garcia said.

The two musicians had the chance to share the stage in 1987 when The Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan toured in North America. They played together and separetly during that tour. Two years later, in 1989, they released a live album called “Dylan & The Dead” that was produced by John Cutler and Jerry Garcia. All the tracks were Dylan songs played with Grateful Dead live.

Gary Numan

The British musician Gary Numan, famous for hits like “Cars” and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” is another artist that many Grateful Dead fans wouldn’t imagine that Garcia liked. He praised Numan in an interview with New Musical Express back in 1981. “I like Gary Numan a lot. Sure do. No (I haven’t seen him in concert), but I would like to. I think his stuff is really interesting. I think he’s got a real thing. (So) I like people who have a real conviction about what they do. Convinced that they have something to say and a real way to say it.”

The interviewer then said that Garcia should get in touch with Numan and record something together and he replied: “Oh no! I’d be intimidated by him. Shit yeah…these guys all seem so much more together than I feel. I feel like someone who is constantly on the verge of losing it, of blowing it. I feel tremendously insecure. When I see people perform with such panache… I don’t see how they do it. It takes tremendous nerve, tremendous balls,” Jerry Garcia said.

Elvis Costello

The British musician Elvis Costello is another artist that appeared in the late 70s and Jerry Garcia liked. Talking with WCMF in 1978, the late Grateful Dead member was asked about Costello’s song “Watching The Detectives” and he replied: “I like it. I like Elvis Costello”.

Curiously, the British artist is a big fan of The Grateful Dead and even had the chance to play on stage with Garcia in the late 80s.

In an interview with Musician magazine in 1991, done side-by-side with Jerry Garcia, Costello talked about the American band. “I think one thing that’s overlooked about the Dead is the strength of the songs. If it wasn’t for all the cultural baggage that comes with the Grateful Dead, and maybe the name being in one way a defense and in another an alienating thing. Also if you were Norwegian or something, I think by now you’d be regarded as a sort of super jazz band.

“And on the other hand, if it wasn’t for the improvisational aspects, you would have better credit for having written really good songs. Because they’re not just platforms for improvisation. I think that’s an element that, aside from Dead fans, is very overlooked,” Elvis Costello said.

Warren Zevon

In 1980, Jerry Garcia also praised in the conversation with Relix, the late American musician Warren Zevon. “I like Warren Zevon a lot, I mean, I’ve heard good stuff from almost everybody, just like I’ve heard bad stuff from almost everybody,” Garcia said.

Zevon was known for songs like “Werewolves of London”, “Lawyers, Guns and Money” and “Excitable Boy”. He died at the age of 56 back in 2003, victim of cancer.

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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