Since I'm at work now, I'll try to type this out with a minimum of tears,
although my heart is still aching. This morning I learned that Jerry Garcia
passed away.

Why should I care about a rock star who I don't even know? Why should I feel
any pain? Why should I even take the time to write this? I have asked myself
these questions. But I feel compelled, and the answer will lie in this
letter. The unfortunate first words I heard about his death were from a jerk
at work who was callously telling somebody on the phone, "Yeah, he probably
died of a drug overdose or something." My mind went numb, knowing the
sometimes joked-about day is here, for me, and for all who appreciated his

To communicate just how much impact this passing has on my life, I think it's
important to tell you that music has had an immense impact on me, and I think
that it does on everybody - whether it be Garcia's, Tool's, Mozart's or
Lawrence Welk's. It is my belief that most people unfortunately go through
life with a limited recognition of the influence that music has on them. Even
though most of us financially float a megabillion dollar music industry, I
think that most people never consciously think about it.

Think about it now. We dance, buy incredible stereo systems, new CDs, make
our children take tuba lessons, watch MTV, wait in ticket lines, and hold a
belief in the possibility that Morrison and Presley are still alive and sit
in running, parked cars to listen to the end of a songs that we love - just
because of that magic moment when music causes chills to spread from
somewhere deep within, giving us goose bumps. Music motivates us to action.
Music directly affects almost everybody's actions at one time or another. It
is a natural high that most of us have paid to get.

I first listened to the Grateful Dead at college, and immediately slammed my
ears closed on what I deemed "country music." U2, REM, the Psychedlic Furs,
the Cars and other progressive, early `80s rock and roll were the only
stripes that I flew, and proudly. It wasn't until I was taken to a series of
3 shows at the Spectrum in Phila. in September, 1988, that my mind and heart
were opened to Jerry's music - what I would call enlightened, quality, mature
music. This series of shows planted a seed in my life that eventually grew
and intertwined with other aspects of my personal life, including interests,
hobbies and relationships.

What shocked me about the Dead was the two drummers, the oriental carpets,
the zealotry of the fans, the strength and vitality of Bob Weir's stage
presence and most of all, the absolute mastery of guitar that Jerry showed. I
had no idea he was that good.

If that show was a door opening, then the 2nd night of the series was when I
walked though it. On the second night, the show was so incredible that every
song seemed to run right into one another. I gained a new way of listening,
loving and judging music. The Dead seemed to have perfect timing - every one
of Phil's huge bass plunks was countered by one of Jerry's high-pitched
leads. Brent Mydland had an immense, gruff voice. The drums were steady,
persistant and timeless, like the chug of a railroad engine. All of this
entertainment was held aloft by the high flying antics of Garcia's guitar,
which I saw as a multicolored circus of sound.

After the show, we hopped into a old AMC gremlin splattered with tie dye
bumper stickers and slammed in The Golden Road - one of the first Dead studio
releases. This was more than testosterone-filled, teenage-angst rock. What I
used to think of the Dead (like old hippy country music) after that live
performance had been transformed into a grooving, melodic rock and roll with
a power and soul that I had never heard before. Each lick of Jerry's guitar
was a magical gift, like a solitary sunset or glassy, empty ocean swells.
Like learning to ski, or like learning to surf, I was incredibly drawn to
this new realm of excitement - music - and I had, (by the next night - my 3rd
show), made the drop and landed on my two feet flat down square in the middle
of the golden road to being a deadhead. The world of the Grateful Dead was
opened to me.

One of the largest lessons that night taught me about life