The guitarist, singer and songwriter Jerry Garcia was born in San Francisco, California in 1942, starting his musical career at the age of 18. In 1965 he helped to form Grateful Dead, which would become one of the most successful touring bands of all time, playing for millions of fans especially in North America for the next three decades.
Garcia sadly passed away in 1995 at the age of 53 but during his career he talked about many other artists and revealed who were some of his favorites. Including who was his favorite singer of all time.
The singer Jerry Garcia said was his favorite of all time
Garcia had a really broad musical taste and one of his favorite music genres was Bluegrass. In an interview with Frets magazine back in 1985, he talked about some of his favorite acts and revealed that Ralph Stanley from Stanley Brothers was his favorite singer of all time. “Oh, yeah. A bunch of times (I saw Bill Monroe’s bluegrass band). And the classic Reno & Smiley band, with Mac Magaha playing fiddle. Also, the original Bill Monroe band with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. Also, the classic Lester Flatt-Earl Scruggs and Foggy Mountain Boys band – that was a great band.”
“I loved Jim & Jesse when that had either Jimmy Buchanan or Vassar [Clements] and the two great banjo players they had at the same time – what’s his name? It’s been such a long time with banjo players. They had two real great banjo players back in the old days. Both had the same big, square-style sound. They both had rhythmically a real symmetrical style. It’s hard to describe, but it’s that era, back when Vassar was playing with them or Jimmy Buchanan.”
“Both about the same era. That was also in the early ’60s, right around there. They had a couple of really great bands in those moments back there. And also the Stanley Brothers. My favorite singers were the Stanley Brothers. Ralph Stanley was my all-time favorite singer, I think,” Jerry Garcia said.
The Stanley brothers was formed by the brothers Carter Stanley (1925 – 1966) and Ralph Stanley (1927 – 2016). They first started in 1946 and were active until Carter’s death in 1966, but Ralph kept the name of the band even as a solo artist until his death 50 years later. Some of their most famous songs are “Angel Band, “Mountain Dew”, “Clinch Mountain Backstep” and “How Mountain Girls Can Love”.
The Stanley Brothers were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor in 1992.
Garcia’s favorite band to cover was The Stanley Brothers
Jerry Garcia loved The Stanley Brothers and as he told Banjo Newsletter in 1991, it was their favorite band to cover. “Stanley Brothers’ songs are the songs I like most, in terms of if I’m doing somebody else’s songs, I like Stanley Brothers’s songs. There’s something sweet about them. And Ralph Stanley is also my model for the best voice in the world, too,” Jerry Garcia said.
During the same conversation with Frets magazine in the 80s, Garcia said that he was more a fan of Bluegrass bands than Bluegrass musicians individually. Bluegrass music started in the 40s in the Appalachian region of the United States. The name came from the Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys, which Garcia loved too.