It was 26 years ago today (August 9th, 1995) that Grateful Dead singer-guitarist Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack at age 53. At the time, Garcia was at the Serenity Knolls drug-treatment center in Forest Knolls, California, where he was trying once again to get on top of his chemical dependencies. Perhaps more than any other member of the Dead, Garcia was the focal point, although he never sought that role, nor did he wear the title easily. To him, it was a band and a family, and he was a member, which is what he always wanted.
Garcia's death had a profound impact on many people. The band's fans, collectively known as “Deadheads,” mourned his loss, while also realizing that so long as the music existed, he was never really that far away. His bandmates took a while to sort through things before announcing that they could not go on without Garcia.
On December 6th, 1995, they released this statement, which said it all: