Jerry Garcia Biopic Coming Soon
The guys who brought us Hamlet 2, Little Miss Sunshine, and Election (Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa) are creating a music biopic that traces Jerry Garcia’s pre-Grateful Dead life in Northern California, the first time Garcia’s story will be featured on the big screen. Marijuana is not required, but it is strongly recommended.
The as-of-yet untitled film will dive into Garcia’s childhood, his military career, a life-changing car accident, his recovery from a drug-induced coma, his relearning to play the guitar, and wrap up when he meets Phil Lesh and the rest of the Dead. Whew…
Producers have acquired rights to the Robert Greenfield book “Dark Star,” an oral history of Garcia’s life from dozens of people who knew him, including musicians, relatives and artist friends like Ken Kesey. Music rights also are under negotiation. And, Topper Lilien, who wrote “Where the Money Is” starring the late Paul Newman has been recruited to write the screenplay.
The Grateful Dead formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long musical improvisation. “Their music,” writes Lenny Kaye, “touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exists.” These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world”. They were ranked 57th in the issue The Greatest Artists of all Time by Rolling Stone magazine. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University (May 8, 1977) was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry. The Grateful Dead have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.
One of its founders, Garcia performed with the Grateful Dead for their entire thirty-year career (1965–1995). Garcia also founded and participated in a variety of side projects, including the Saunders-Garcia Band (with longtime friend Merl Saunders), the Jerry Garcia Band, Old and in the Way, the Garcia/Grisman acoustic duo, Legion of Mary, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage (which Garcia co-founded with John Dawson and David Nelson). He also released several solo albums, and contributed to a number of albums by other artists over the years as a session musician. He was well known by many for his distinctive guitar playing and was ranked 13th in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” cover story.
Later in life, Garcia was sometimes ill because of his diabetes, and in 1986 went into a diabetic coma that nearly cost him his life. Although his overall health improved somewhat after that, he also struggled with heroin and cocaine addictions, and was staying in a California drug rehabilitation facility when he died of a heart attack in August 1995.
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