Tom Speed
1. How would you say the music of Jerry Garcia and/or the man himself has influenced your music, your craft, and/or your life path?

Jerry Garcia had a profound and pivotal impact on me, directly and indirectly. Jerry and the Dead helped me to tap into a vast world of music that I didn't know existed. I discovered a universe of music that transcended time and genre and geography. The Grateful Dead opened the door for me to bluegrass and jazz and blues and especially everything in between. It gave me a much better appreciation for all American music and how it's connected.

Also, it was an epiphany for me, and my seventeen-year old ears, learning that there was music beyond what you could hear on the radio or even through records. I learned that music lived in the moment and that there was magic in those moments. For me, that magic has never subsided and as it turns out, I've spent a lot of time examining and relaying that experience as much as I can.

2. What is your fondest memory of Jerry Garcia?

I never met Jerry, so all of my memories of him are limited to what I saw and heard from the stage, and what I've read about him or seen on TV. Like a lot of folks, I sort of feel that I knew him on some elemental level beyond that of the corporeal—maybe not the person, the guy you go to the movies with, but the spirit behind the person, the elemental essence. That's in the songs.

The musical memories are numerous: The first time I saw him completely captivate a crowd with the stillness of "Stella Blue" just floored me. I'd never seen anything like that. The way he'd flash a devilish grin on stage always put a smile on my face too. I could go on forever about specific shows and songs, about soaring the cosmos and all that. But I think one of my favorite memories may be a non-musical one. It was an appearance on David Letterman's show where Jerry and Bob were doing these goofy parlor tricks, ever the pranksters. It was hysterical and human. It makes me laugh just thinking about it.

3. What would you say is the most significant thing Jerry has given the world?

I think he impacted music and the way people approach music—both as practitioners and fans—in an extremely powerful way. There are a lot of people all over the world who, because of his influence, get a lot more out of music than they otherwise would; a lot more insight, a lot more joy. He promoted a love of music and a love of songs that a lot of people picked up on. So that was significant; that and the spirit of leading an inquisitive life, of loving what you do and doing what you love.

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