Happy Birthday Jerry Garcia: Performing With Robert Hunter In 1980
Sunday Cinema celebrates what would have been Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia’s birthday today.
Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was born on this date in 1942. In the years since his death at age 53 on August 9, 1995, the time period between his birthday and the anniversary of his death has become known as the “days between.” The moniker comes from the Grateful Dead song “Days Between,” which was composed by Garcia and his longtime songwriting partner, Robert Hunter.
Garcia had many collaborators throughout his all-too-short career, with Hunter chiefly among them. Among the last songs written by Garcia and Hunter, who died in 2019 at age 78, “Days Between” was one of the last of many now-classics written by the pair who were inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2015. One of the few lyricists in rock ‘n’ roll history to be considered an official member of a band, Hunter was also inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame when the Dead were enshrined in 1994.
The tandem responsible for “Ripple,” “Friend Of The Devil,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Wharf Rat,” “Uncle John’s Band” and scores of others in the storied Dead songbook, met in early-1961 at the Commedia Theater in Palo Alto, California. The pair started to perform together as Bob & Jerry, which can be heard on the recording made on May 26, 1961 at their friend Brigid Meier’s 16th birthday party, in Menlo Park, California that was included in the Before The Dead box set.
Garcia and Hunter would continue to perform together in the early-1960s, playing in various other folk and bluegrass groups such as the Thunder Mountain Tub Thumpers, Hart Valley Drifters, Wildwood Boys, Black Mountain Boys and Badwater Valley Boys. In 1965 Garcia joined the band that became the Grateful Dead and, though they would maintain their songwriting partnership, the two sparsely performed together again in public.
One such occasion where Hunter and Garcia shared the live stage together took place when the Jerry Garcia Band performed on March 1, 1980 at The Capitol Theater in Passaic, New Jersey. The night presented early and late JGB shows with a lineup of Garcia, bassist John Kahn, keyboardist Ozzie Ahlers and drummer Johnny de Fonseca. As he would at other stops on that tour, Garcia brought out his “old partner” Hunter to sing and play harmonica on “Tiger Rose” (the title track to Hunter’s 1975 solo album) and “Promontory Rider” (which was recorded for Hunter’s shelved 1978 album, Alligator Moon).
Watch Robert Hunter join the Jerry Garcia Band on those two songs (written solely by Hunter), and stream the officially released entire show (featuring Garcia/Hunter co-writes “Sugaree,” “Deal” and “Mission In The Rain”) below: