Bob Dylan’s Heartbreaking Awakening At Jerry Garcia’s Funeral, Grateful Dead Promoter Recalls

Longtime Grateful Dead promoter John Scher recently shared a memory of Bob Dylan at Jerry Garcia’s funeral. Scher was among the approximately 250 close friends and family who attended Garcia’s funeral in 1995. However, it was a private interaction with Bob Dylan that left a lasting impression on him and apparently on the San Francisco Chronicle news team.

Recently appearing on the Bob Lefsetz Podcast, Scher described a moment as they were leaving the funeral. He and Dylan were photographed together by a San Francisco Chronicle photographer, resulting in an image that appeared on the front page of the newspaper the following day, captioned ‘Bob Dylan with an unknown person leaving Jerry Garcia’s funeral.’ Scher recalled:

“I go to the funeral, I speak at the funeral, and when we’re walking out of the funeral, I’m walking out with Bob Dylan. And a San Francisco Chronicle photographer took a picture of the two of us walking out. Next day, on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle is ‘Bob Dylan with an unknown person leaving Jerry Garcia’s funeral.’”

But for Scher, one of the most important moments of that day was the profound words Dylan said to him in that photo.

“What I really remember about it is while we were walking out, Dylan leaned over to me and said, ‘You know what, John?’ I said, ‘What, Bob?’ He said, ‘The guy lying there (referring to Garcia), he’s the only one in the world and knows what it’s like to be me.’ Which was pretty profound.”

Bob Dylan Thought of Jerry Garcia As A Big Brother

Bob Dylan’s eulogy for Jerry Garcia, written in 1995, was an emotional tribute that reflected Dylan’s personal admiration for Garcia and their intimate relationship. Dylan talked about Garcia being like a big brother to him and described his playing as ‘moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic, and subtle’ as a guitarist. Dylan stated:

“There’s no way to measure his greatness or magnitude as a person or a player. I don’t think any eulogizing will do him justice. He was that great, much more than a superb musician, with an uncanny ear and dexterity. He’s the very spirit personified of whatever is Muddy River country at it’s core and screams up into the spheres. He really has no equal.

Dylan said that Garcia, whom he considered like an older brother, perhaps filled the gaps between musicians like The Carter Family, Buddy Holly and Ornette Coleman. Dylan continued his eulogy:

“To me he wasn’t only a musician and friend, he was more like a big brother who taught and showed me more than he’ll ever know. There’s a lot of spaces and advances between The Carter Family, Buddy Holly and, say, Ornette Coleman, a lot of universes, but he filled them all without being a member of any school. His playing was moody, awesome, sophisticated, hypnotic and subtle. There’s no way to convey the loss. It just digs down really deep.”

Jerry Garcia was very close to Bob Dylan as well. He sang Dylan’s songs more than anyone else in the music industry.