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Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia
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Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  337 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Weaving together close to 70 interviews with Jerry Garcia's wives, family, friends, fellow musicians, and other well-known figures in the Grateful Dead scene, Dark Star brings to life one of the most influential and enduring stars in American music. It sheds new light on Garcia's childhood in San Francisco, the formation of his musical identity, the Dead's road to rock sta ...more
Hardcover, 374 pages
Published December 31st 1996 by William Morrow & Company (first published August 1996)
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Community Reviews

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I quite enjoyed the hundreds of personal comments and accounts of the Great Jerry Garcia: "The Emperor," as Yen-wei Choong called him. More importantly, I appreciated the brutal honesty of those who knew him so well.

Unfortunately, so many of those close to him were left out (or opted out) in a very painfully obvious way.

The members of that little band called the Grateful Dead were almost entirely absent. I think they might have had a word or two with that Garcia guy. Billy and Mickey are still
A biography of the iconic guitarist of the Grateful Dead as told by friends, lovers and family. The book does a wonderful job of weaving together tales by those that knew him and paints a picture of a gifted artist and deeply flawed human being. Anyone that has a glossy image of Jerry Garcia will come face to face with his troubled personal life and addictions.

It's not all dark; there are many stories of his early days that show Garcia as an up-and-coming banjo player and his turn to jug band mu
Inspired by a recent trip to San Francisco where we stayed several days in a cozy apartment just blocks from 710 Ashbury, it seemed only necessary to read once again about one of my favorite musicians of all time. Although there were key voices missing from this oral biography that could have helped paint a fuller picture, Dark Star is a great reminder of the light that this American icon brought - and continues to bring through his music - to so many lives. Not all of it is pretty, but he had a ...more
Surprisingly readable for a book made up of hundreds of interviews, with no narrative intervention - a real testament out Greenfield's abilities as an editor and interviewer.

This book was great, actually, but must be understood for what it is - an extremely subjective approach to biography, with almost no input from the subject himself, Jerry Garcia. That's a huge grain of salt that you must hold in your hand the entire time that you are reading this book. Also missing are many other voices - pe
Dark Star reveals Jerry Garcia through the eyes of those closest to him: the ex-wives and lovers who lost him to the road, the close friends who watched him battle a long-running heroin habit, the children of fellow members of the Grateful Dead and the musicians who looked up to him as a guru. Together these voices present a striking portrait of a compelling artist - psychedelic guru, addict, outlaw, and rock'n'roll icon.
I liked that this was not a book of one person's opinions, but rather a collection of thoughts from people who were all part of Jerry's life. A little painful to read; when you put someone up on a pedestal it's hard to believe their feet are made of clay.
John Wallace
Great perspective into Jerry's life. Key participants are missing, however. Would have been better if other members of the Dead and Steve Parish had participated.
Bill Glover
No, I wasn't going to read this back in high school when so many kids were trying to out Deadhead each other. But it was interesting and quick bathroom reading for Gathering of the Vibes weekend. Once in a while cranking some really good live Dead makes me feel like it's '94 and I'm cutting class with Juice. Freedom and dizziness.
rebecca hutchinson


wish more people would have spoken,and don't understand the dates of list of people who spoke up must be when they spoke examples 1988/95? couldn't be their birthday anyway very good loved it
Kyle Ballard
I devoured this book. I wouldn't classify myself as a dead head, but a dead fan. I have been a fan of music from this time and the "scene" associated with it. This book was written in a weird fashion is the only reason I gave it 4 and not 5 stars. Its written in oral form of interviews from several people in chronological order of his life. I got used to it, but didn't particularly love it. I loved reading about the early drug use of psychedelics and the things that were gong on during that time ...more
Love the subject, love the insight into his life. So interesting to know a little about the man behind the magic.
Seems a bit one-sided with a lot of negative talk by ancillary figures.
Jun 21, 2010 Niklas rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans
I wasn't going to read this, but then I thought I'd just peruse it before I returned it and then I was hooked. Being an oral history it's just that-recorded conversations. Many persons who knew JG speak of him during different eras of his life. I picked it up right in the early seventies which is my favorite Grateful dead period. His wife, managers, members of the Jerry Garcia band, and New Riders of the Purple Sage and many others all chime in about what their relationship to Jerry was and what ...more
M. Milner
Garcia was a complex guy; he was one of the most talented musicians of his generation, yet he never really craved the spotlight. He had problems with food, drugs and women, but how much of that can one attribute to his watching his father drown as a small child? To having a finger cut off by his brother? Greenfield ultimately paints a picture of a man devoted to his craft who succumbs to escapism: heroin, binge eating, yes-men who allow him to live a life of excess and constantly moving from lov ...more
What a piece of crap. To me, an "oral history" is just a lazy excuse for not bring able to write a real book. This garbage reads like 356 pages of Facebook statuses. Waaaay too much time spent on Jerry's heroin addiction and not nearly enough on his musical genius.
I enjoy that this book is not written in the traditional style of a biography. A story told by one person, usually based on second hand knowledge from someone close to the person, who from just what is generally known. This is a compliation of fond memories from the people that knew Jerry the best. From friends to family, you get a sense of who he really was by hearing it in the words of his loved ones.
The content of this book was good, but the format frustrated me about 15 percent of the way in. It reads like a transcript of a documentary but without narration and segues. So without faces and voices to accompany these friends of Jerry's as they tell their stories, that got old real fast. Die-hard fans would appreciate it more, regardless of the format.
David Ward
Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia by Robert Greenfield (William Morrow & Co. 1996) (Biography). This biography consists of interviews with over seventy of Jerry's friends, companions, and contemporaries. This book contains new insights into the legend. My rating: 7.5/10, finished 2010.
They don't come more demystifying than "Dark Star." There are lots and lots of otherwise untold anecdotes & first-hand perspectives, but they come at the price of reading the most depressing of all possible tellings of Jerry Garcia's life story. Forget about the music, abandon hope, etc., etc..
Ilene Richards
As a life-long Deadhead, I continually read everything I can find by and about the Grateful Dead.DARK STAR is a series of conversations with people who knew Jerry very well. It was published in 1996, just a year after he died...And the book pulls no punches. Read it
A multi-faceted insight into this inscrutable man. Quintessential rock star life of introverted drive to perfect artistic abilities tempered with a reckless abandon to drug-gluttony, philandery, and buddha-like eschewment of judgement.
Excellent title for this book. Hearing about the childhood tragedies he experienced helps me understand why he was in pain and needed drugs to dull it. Oral biographies are great, because you get such a wide variety of input.
Melanie Pappageorge
I learned so many new things about Jerry and his relationships, his musical history from the stories and memories told by his friends and family. Very interesting read, especially if you are a fan of Jerry Garcia.
Adam Hegg
enjoyable. easy to pick up and put down when spirit moves.
Vinit Mahida
Depressing story, inspiring though. Difficult read. Nice insight into an era from the perspective of people surrounding this icon.
It brings out the hippie in me! It's great to read stories about Jerry from the people that knew and loved him best.
Excellent history of the Dead and a good portrait of Jerry. It's dark and the end is grim, naturally.
outstanding! I cry everytime I read it. I love what John Perry Barlow says, he had an "unwarranted grace."
Fantastic, though it would have benefitted from the band weighing in more prominently.
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