Grateful Dead co-founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was just 27-years-old when on this date in 1973 he tragically died following complications from Crohn’s disease and other health issues. Pigpen played keyboards, percussion and was a primary vocalist in the early days of the now legendary San Francisco-based band.
McKernan brought an edginess and love for the blues to the Dead. Often singing lead during vamped up covers of blues favorites such as “Turn On Your Lovelight,” “Hard To Handle,” “Smokestack Lightnin’” and “Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl.” Pigpen was also integral to originals like “Easy Wind,” “Mister Charlie” and several others leading up to his final live appearance with the Grateful Dead on June 17, 1972.
After his death 45 years ago, Pigpen was laid to rest at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California. His tombstone reads, “Pigpen was and is now forever one of the Grateful Dead.”
Below is a massive 1,000+ track chronological Spotify Playlist compiling the officially available Grateful Dead recordings from the Pigpen era. Spanning 1966 to 1972, the playlist captures the early development of the psychedelic pioneers, leaving out a few recordings from late 1971 while Pigpen was on a hiatus from the band to deal with medical problems.
Featuring selections from Dick’s Picks, official Download Series and Road Trips releases, 30 Days Of Dead offerings, live albums, compilations and other sources, stream the Ron “Pigpen” McKernan era live Grateful Dead Spotify Playlist below:
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