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Jerome John Garcia was born in 1942 in San FranciscosMission District His father a spanish immigrant named JoseJoe Garcia had been a jazz clarinetist and Dixieland bandleader in the thirties and he named his new son after his favorite Broadway composer Jerome Kern In the spring of 1948 while on a fishing trip Garcia saw his father swept to his death by a California riverAfter his fathers death Garcia spent a few years living with his mothers parents in one of San Franciscos working-class districts His grandmother had the habit of listening to Nashvilles Grand Ole Opry radio broadcasts on Saturday nights and it was in those hours Garcia would later say that he developed hisfondness for country-music forms-particularly the deft blues-inflected mandolin playing and mournful high-lonesome vocal style of Bill Monroe the principal founder of bluegrass When Garcia was ten his mother Ruth brought him to live with her at a sailors hotel and bar that she ran near the citys waterfront He spent much of histime there listening to the drunks fanciful stories or sitting alonereading Disney and horror comics and pouring through science-fiction novelsWhen Garcia was fifteen his older brother Tiff - who years earlier had accidentally chopped off Jerrys right-hand middlefinger while the two were chopping wood - introduced him to early rock roll and rhythm blues music Garcia was quickly drawn to the musics funky rhythms and wild textures but what attracted himthe most were the sounds that came from the guitar especially the bluesy melifluousness of players such as T-bone Walker and Chuck Berry It was something he said that he had never heard before Garcia wanted to learn how to make those same sounds he went straight to his mother and told her that he wanted anelectricguitar for his next birthdayDuring this same period the beat period was going into full swing in the Bay Area and it held great predominance at theNorth Beach arts
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