By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
When rock 'n' roll legend Jerry Garcia died in 1995, he left behind a biblical constellation of musical offspring. Of course, he's best known as the frontman of the Grateful Dead, a position he held for the band's 30-year existence, beginning in 1965. And rightfully, the band ended with his death. Meanwhile, Garcia's former bandmates went on to found a number of side projects — including Bob Weir and Ratdog, Phil Lesh and Friends, and most recently, Furthur — that often perform Dead songs.
But since about 1975, Garcia had his own side project called, simply, the Jerry Garcia Band. It was an on-and-off kind of thing, most active usually during the Dead's breaks. Just one studio album, Cats Under the Stars, was released in Garcia's lifetime. But confusingly, the Jerry Garcia Band did not end with Garcia's death. In a Tupac-like move, the outfit has released more Garcia-fronted albums posthumously (five since 1997) than it did while he was alive.
Now it's even touring, sans Garcia, and calling itself the Jerry Garcia Band Featuring Melvin Seals. The group's past members number about two dozen. But Seals is the one who boasts the longest tenure, having joined as organist in 1980 and sticking around till the end. Other, younger guns fill in to keep the band's flame alive, including South Florida native Pete Lavezzoli. Twentysomethings probably remember dancing to his Grateful Dead tribute act, Crazy Fingers, along Fort Lauderdale beach.