Remembering Jerry Garcia: Live Guest Appearances

Celebrate the life and career of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia on the days between his birthday on August 1 and today's anniversary of his death on August 9.

By Andy Kahn Aug 9, 2021 11:25 am PDT

Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia worked with many other talented musicians during his career, both within the legendary band and beyond. Garcia’s prominent musical companions have been featured this week in recognition of the Days Between his birthday on August 1 and today’s anniversary of his death in 1995.

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Garcia’s collaborations, beyond those highlighted in the Days Between series, are featured in the article below, which has been updated since its original publication three years ago.


Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia was 53 when he sadly passed away after suffering a heart attack on this date in 1995. An acclaimed guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Garcia created a lasting body of work with the Dead and the many projects he participated in during his all-too-short career.

In celebration of Jerry’s life and legacy, below is a collection Garcia sitting-in with various other acts during his career. Focusing on performances beyond his typical collaborations with the Jerry Garcia Band, David Grisman and John Kahn, the collection instead presents instances where Garcia truly served as a special guest.


Garcia performed at Armadillo World Headquarters in Austin with renowned keyboardist Leon Russell and acclaimed Texas-native singer-songwriter Doug Sahm on November 23, 1972. The performance billed as “Doug Sahm and Friends” also featured Garcia’s Dead bandmate Phil Lesh on bass, as well as Texas-based musicians, drummer Jerry Barnett of Shiva’s Headband and fiddlers Mary Egan of Greezy Wheels and bassist Benny Thurman of the 13th Floor Elevators.

The Austin Chronicle’s review of the Thanksgiving Day concert recapped the performance, writing “the impromptu band, featuring Garcia again on pedal steel, Sahm, Russell, Dead bassist Phil Lesh, and several backing musicians, rallied through 29 covers by artists including Charley Pride, Roger Miller, Hank Williams, and Bob Dylan.”

Other covers included songs by The Rolling Stones, Merle Haggard, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and many more. Listen to the full show below:


Months after recovering from a five-day diabetic coma in July 1986 Garcia sat-in with Los Lobos at their concert at New George’s in San Rafael, California on November 21, 1986. Fellow guest Carlos Santana handed Garcia a Gibson ES-335 guitar and then proceeded to watch from the audience as Jerry helped out on “La Bamba.”


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Steve M
Los Lobos (See 96 videos) and Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos)

Bay Area-based Zero performed at the Soviet American Peace Walk Concert at Golden Gate Park on July 16, 1988. Guitarist Steve Kimock, drummer Greg Anton, Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina, bassist Bobby Vega, keyboardist Lowell “Banana” Levinger and horn players Hadi Al-Saadoon and Martin Fierro brought out Garcia for an extensive sit-in.

Jerry’s appearance occurred alongside his longtime collaborator, keyboardist Merl Saunders, who was a frequent companion of Garcia’s in the early-1970s, including forming the short-lived Legion Of Mary with Fierro and others. Zero’s guest-filled set at Golden Gate Park also saw harmonica player Norton Buffalo and guitarist Marc Benno onstage for Jimmy McCracklin and Don Robey’s “Think,” Lead Belly’s “Goodnight Irene” and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”


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Steve Kimock (See 66 videos)
Zero (See 55 videos) , Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos) , Steve Kimock (See 97 videos) and Bobby Vega (See 23 videos)

On April 24, 1989 a concert ticketed as Elvis Costello & Friends took place at Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California. Costello played a solo set, followed by a collaborative performance featuring the likes of Bob Weir, Sammy Hagar, Pete Sears, Commander Cody and more. Among the songs Garcia was on stage for were “You Win Again,” “Why Don’t You Love Me,” “Riot In Cellblock #9” and “Going Down.”


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essephreak (See 4 videos)
Elvis Costello (See 14 videos) , Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos) and James Burton (See 4 videos)

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essephreak (See 4 videos)
Elvis Costello (See 14 videos) , Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos) and James Burton (See 4 videos)

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essephreak (See 4 videos)
Elvis Costello (See 14 videos) , Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos) , Commander Cody , Sammy Hagar (See 8 videos) , Annie Sampson and James Burton (See 4 videos)

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essephreak (See 4 videos)
Elvis Costello (See 14 videos) , Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos) , Sammy Hagar (See 8 videos) and Pete Sears (See 24 videos)

One day after turning 47, Garcia was part of a benefit concert held at the Crystal Ballroom in the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. The August 2, 1989 Benefit for the National Hispanic Arts, Education Media Institute saw Jerry once again team up with Carlos Santana and fellow special guest accordion player Steve Jordan. Later, Garcia also played guitar alongside Ruben Blades & Son Del Solar on a rendition of “Muevete.”


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LoloYodel (See 279 videos)
Carlos Santana (See 16 videos) and Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos)

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LoloYodel (See 279 videos)
Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos) and Ruben Blades (See 7 videos)

Traffic opened for the Grateful Dead during the summer of 1994. The Dead often covered Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy” and Garcia can be seen below joining Steve Winwood on the classic during Traffic’s opening set at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey before the Dead’s show on August 3, 1994.


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Gustavo Orozco (See 2 videos)
Traffic (See 6 videos) and Jerry Garcia (See 31 videos)

[Updated article. Originally published August 9, 2018]

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