For the better part of 30 years, musician Jerry Garcia toured and played music with his band, The Grateful Dead, to adoring fans around the United States and the rest of the world. The Dead's yearly tours around the nation set the itineraries for thousands of people ("Deadheads") who traveled city to city with the band, enjoying a transient, musical lifestyle that involved equal parts Jerry-worship, bootleg-tape trading and hallucinogenic mind expansion.
It's hard to live a healthy lifestyle when you're the lead guitarist for the house band of the 1960s psychedelic revolution. Garcia struggled with obesity, with his weight sometimes ballooning to more than 300 pounds. And for most of his life, he was a three-pack-a-day smoker.
Garcia and the Dead basically served as ushers to the drug culture of the 1960s and '70s, and Garcia threw himself into the role. The talented musician and songwriter worked on several side projects over the course of his life, one of which was heroin addiction.
In 1986, Garcia spent five days in a diabetic coma. He survived the coma and made an effort to change his lifestyle, but the changes didn't stick. He continued smoking and remained obese, and his continued use of heroin necessitated repeated stays in rehabilitation centers.
At the age of 53, Garcia died of a heart attack. Had he paid heed to the warning signs his body was giving him, he might have added many dates to his life's tour -- and many more tapes to the Grateful Dead canon.
Next: The weight of the crown is heavy on the heart.