Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and Barry McGuire fell into these traps. Pigpen had a close relationship with Janis Joplin, with both preferring booze to drugs at the time. Remembering Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan With 10 Early Grateful Dead Performances. There have been rumors that his death was a result of his excessive drinking, but in fact, his real cause of death was a rare and unrelated disease, as reported by Ultimate Classic Rock. [27], McKernan sang lead on several standards he wanted the Dead to cover, such as Otis Redding's "Pain in My Heart" and Wilson Pickett's "In the Midnight Hour", with the latter serving as one of the band's main improvisatory vehicles from 1966 to 1968. Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as "Pigpen", was an American singer and musician. Charlie." In the mid 1960s, he with musicians Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, formed the band The Grateful Dead and released their self-titled album on … McKernan's landlady found his body at his home in … In 1969, the band's record company, Warner Bros., ran a "Pigpen Look-Alike Contest". [47] The event was covered in the first issue of Rolling Stone, where the reporter noted McKernan had a substantial rifle collection[48] and McKernan's picture appeared on a contemporary report in the San Francisco Chronicle. He was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972. ", The Tragic Death Of Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan. His love for gospel and blues led him to be one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead. McKernan's alcohol abuse had begun to affect his health by his mid twenties. [17], After McKernan's death, a number of recordings were found in his apartment, which have appeared as the bootleg recording The Apartment Tapes. found: Wikipedia, September 15, 2017 (Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Ronald Charles McKernan, born September 8, 1945 in San Bruno, California; died March 8, 1973 in Corte Madera, California; founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972) Today would have been Ron “Pigpen” McKernan’s 74th birthday had the founding Grateful Dead member not died in 1973 at the age of 27 due to complications from Crohn’s disease. McKernan grew up heavily influenced by African-American music, particularly the blues, and enjoyed listening to his father's collection of records and taught himself how to play harmonica and piano. At the height of the Grateful Dead 's breakout success in the early 1970s, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan served as a driving force behind the jam band's legendary acclaim. (Redirected from Ron McKernan) Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as Pigpen , was an American singer and musician. Today would have been Ron “Pigpen” McKernan’s 74th birthday had the founding Grateful Dead member not died in 1973 at the age of 27 due to complications from Crohn’s disease. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com: accessed ), memorial page for Ronald C. “Pigpen” McKernan (8 Sep 1945–8 Mar 1973), Find a Grave Memorial no. He had a liver problem, but it was a burst doudenal ulcer which caused his death from internal bleeding. Born in California on September 8, … A new feature film about the life of Grateful Dead founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, "Pigpen…a blues singer," is in the works. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan from the grateful dead died at age 27...just look at those names we all mentioned and imagine the band they could form...wow thats kinda sad...no its really sad ... Name: Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan died on March 8, 1975. "[55], On March 8, 1973, aged 27, he was found dead of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at his home in Corte Madera, California, by his landlady. As years went on, The Dead adopted a different musical tone after Pigpen's death, something that leaned closer to jazz. [4] During the band's first year when they played straightforward blues, McKernan performed the majority of lead vocals, attracting an early audience that came specifically to see him sing and play harmonica. [17] He continued to front the band for long stretches during their live performances and suggested new material for the Dead's concert repertoire, including Redding's "Hard to Handle" and James Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World. But unlike Joplin, Pigpen's passing was actually due to congenital biliary cirrhosis, a rare autoimmune disease that is unrelated to alcohol use. Above: Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan (1945-1973) photographed in 1972 (Image credit: Getty) The 80s began with new keyboard player Brent Mydland replacing Keith and Donna Godchaux, and the release of the patchy Go To Heaven album, whose cover made the group look like ageing New Romantics. I think he would have had at least as much success as like a Dr. John or something with a Ron "pigpen" Mckernan band a la Jerry Garcia Band. [38], McKernan was close friends with American singer-songwriter Janis Joplin due to common musical influences and lifestyles, particularly a shared love of alcohol over other drugs;[39] a poster from the early 1970s showed them together at 710 Ashbury. He initially played an indeterminate Farfisa combo organ[26] before switching to the more elaborate Vox Continental[2] in 1966. And after years of hard living and hard drinking, it finally did him in. Definition.org quotes Garcia at McKernan's funeral: "After Pigpen's death we all knew this was the end of the original Grateful Dead. McKernan was the first of the Dead's founding members to suggest they form a band, and his life-long infatuation with … He was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972. About Ron "Pigpen" McKernan Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as Pigpen, was an American singer and musician. Cause of death: alcohol. The combination of Crohn's and alcoholism would make a lot more sense than an otherwise healthy 27 year old drinking himself to death. On March 8, 1973, Ron McKernan died at age 27. McKernan's developing passion for music eventually landed him a job at Dana Morgan's Music Store in Palo Alto, where, age 14, he met Garcia. During the band's early days, he was considered its heart and soul. His mother, Esther Elvera McKernan was born January 5, 1917, died October 16, 1989. I'm not sure how many brothers and sisters he had, but I know he wasn't the only child. The combination of Crohn's and alcoholism would make a lot more sense than an otherwise healthy 27 year old drinking himself to death. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was an American, singer, songwriter, and musician. Name: Jim Morrison. Remembering Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan With 10 Early Grateful Dead Performances. Name: Jim Morrison. The younger McKernan grew up in what was designated a Black neighborhood, and thus developed a love for Black music and culture (which undoubtedly helped to inspire the Dead's blues-infused melodies). [63], Ladies and Gentlemen... the Grateful Dead, History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear's Choice), Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72, Fillmore West 1969: The Complete Recordings, Family Dog at the Great Highway, San Francisco, CA 4/18/70, 30 Trips Around the Sun: The Definitive Live Story 1965–1995, Shrine Exposition Hall, Los Angeles, CA 11/10/1967, "Grateful Dead Guide: The Vox and the Hammond, 1967-1969", "Grateful Dead Live at Fillmore West on 1970-08-19", "The Grateful Dead Did Get It: Reporters and Cops", "45 Years Ago: The Grateful Dead's Infamous 'Truckin, "Blair's Golden Road Blog - The Keyboardist Question - Grateful Dead", Pigpen's page on the Dead's Official Site, Top 10 Pigpen McKernan Grateful Dead Songs, Winterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings, July 29 1966, P.N.E. Explore Ron Pigpen McKernan's biography, personal life, family and cause of death. [15][46] Ironically, McKernan was arrested and fined after the cannabis bust on November 9, 1967, at 710 Ashbury Street, the Dead's communal home, even though he did not use the drug. [22], After Constanten's departure in January 1970 over musical and lifestyle differences, McKernan nominally resumed keyboard duties. After the pair had played in various folk and jug bands, McKernan suggested they form an electric group, which became the Grateful Dead. A lifetime of alcoholism combined with hepatitis he contracted during the band's 1972 European tour severely damaged Pigpen's health. According to Grateful Dead: What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been, biographer Michele Hollow tells us that one of McKernan's former girlfriends might've given him the nickname based on the perpetually-dirty character in Charles Schultz's Peanuts comics. "[57], Weir later became influenced by McKernan's ability to work a crowd and improvise lyrics. Born in San Bruno, California, he was a vocalist, organist and harmonica player best known for being a member of The Grateful Dead. A founding member of the band The Grateful Dead, Ron McKernan, known affectionately by the band and Deadheads alike as “Pigpen,” was a piano and harmonica player on the San Francisco music scene. He took over de facto frontman duties in concert and began to reintroduce material originally chosen by McKernan into the Dead's live set after his death. [7] One night Garcia invited McKernan on stage to play harmonica and sing the blues. Mr. Hunter had moved to New Mexico by the time Garcia, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan had formed the Grateful Dead. The Bay Area native … Pigpen's love of the blues was equaled only by his love of alcohol, a demon he couldn't shake. He was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972. The band's earliest sets centered around blues and R&B covers chosen by McKernan. McKernan sang, and played organ and harmonica. His father was a rhythm and blues disk jockey, so Pigpen got exposed to that type of music at an early age. [51] McKernan rejoined the band in December 1971[25] to supplement Godchaux on harmonica, percussion, and organ. Would have been a great outlet for the more edgy blues the boys got back into in the 80s. He was in bad shape in the months leading up to his death, as Dead.net reports; health issues forced a leave of absence from the band. [61], "He's Gone", originally appearing on the live album Europe '72, subsequently became a eulogy to McKernan by his former bandmates. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan from the grateful dead died at age 27...just look at those names we all mentioned and imagine the band they could form...wow thats kinda sad...no its really sad ... Name: Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Drummer Mickey Hart … Band: The Doors. [15] By the early 1970s, he also began to experience symptoms of congenital primary biliary cholangitis, a rare autoimmune disease which was unrelated to his use of alcohol. [56] McKernan was buried at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California. [33] Even as his instrumental contributions waned, McKernan's vocal performances remained an integral part of the band's live set; by early 1971, their cover of the Rascals' "Good Lovin'" (initially performed by the group as early as 1966 and featured at shows at the Fillmore East later released as Ladies and Gentlemen... the Grateful Dead) began to emerge as a secondary showcase of his improvisatory talents alongside "Love Light. The Alta … [58][59] Weir began singing "Good Lovin'" with the Dead in 1973, and the group recorded the song on 1978's Shakedown Street. [19] According to Garcia biographer Blair Jackson, McKernan missed three Dead shows before vowing not to "be lazy" any more and rejoining, while Kreutzmann objected to replacing McKernan and said the event never happened. Garden Aud., Vancouver Canada, Robert F. Kennedy Stadium, Washington, D.C., July 12 & 13, 1989, Pacific Northwest '73–'74: The Complete Recordings, Pacific Northwest '73–'74: Believe It If You Need It, Playing in the Band, Seattle, Washington, 5/21/74, The Warfield, San Francisco, California, October 9 & 10, 1980, Skeletons from the Closet: The Best of Grateful Dead, Dead Zone: The Grateful Dead CD Collection (1977–1987), All the Years Combine: The DVD Collection, Dead Ringers: The Making of Touch of Grey, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead 1987 Tour, Deadicated: A Tribute to the Grateful Dead, Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of the Grateful Dead, The Music Never Stopped: Roots of the Grateful Dead, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Ron_%22Pigpen%22_McKernan&oldid=991542684, Wikipedia articles with MusicBrainz identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 30 November 2020, at 16:37. Year: 1973. Ron McKernan — better known as “Pigpen” — was born on Sept. 8, 1945, in San Bruno, Calif. His father was one of the first white rhythm and blues disc jockeys, and so McKernan grew up amidst black music and culture, which would influence him later on. Steve Parish claims Pigpen and his brother both died from complications of Crohn's disease. Hunter said "it became an anthem for Pigpen". While he was a very heavy drinker (the rest of the group preferred getting high, per Ultimate Classic Rock), McKernan had given up alcohol by 1972 as his health declined. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. From his biker good looks to his gruff, dusty voice, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan managed to work that combination into one of the '60s most encompassing jam bands. 13 Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. This included two songs recorded in 1964 with future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. [13] By the end of 1966, Garcia had improved his musical skills, changing the band's direction and reducing McKernan's contributions. [52][53] However, his health soon deteriorated again to the point where he could no longer continue to perform. At the height of the Grateful Dead's breakout success in the early 1970s, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan served as a driving force behind the jam band's legendary acclaim. The vocalist and keyboardist proved responsible for the band's blues-based tone, even taking over singing duties on tunes such as "Turn on Your Lovelight," "Alligator," "Big Boss Man," and "Mr. Unlike the other members of the Grateful Dead, McKernan avoided psychedelic drugs, preferring to drink alcohol (namely whiskey and flavored fortified wine). On the follow-up album American Beauty, keyboard parts were handled by Garcia and Lesh, along with session musicians Howard Wales and Ned Lagin. [3] Onomastician Adrian Room has suggested McKernan was given the name due to his untidy and unclean habits[8] and band biographies say he got the nickname owing to his similarity to Pig-Pen, the permanently-dirty character in the comic-strip Peanuts. 1724, citing Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave . One day in February 1973, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan got out of bed in his apartment in Corte Madera, California, where he’d recently been spending most … [40], McKernan's alcohol abuse had begun to affect his health by his mid twenties. Ron McKernan was born on September 8, 1945 in San Bruno, California, USA as Ronald Charles McKernan. Around 1965, McKernan urged the rest of the Warlocks to switch to electric instruments. At the height of the Grateful Dead 's breakout success in the early 1970s, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan served as a driving force behind the jam band's legendary acclaim. Road manager Jon McIntire commented that "Pigpen was relegated to the congas at that point and it was really humiliating and he was really hurt, but he couldn't show it, couldn't talk about it. [37], Tony Sclafani has compared McKernan's role in the band, initially strong and pivotal but gradually declining, to that of Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones, particularly since both men were primarily influenced by the blues over rock 'n' roll and died aged 27. [vimeo 122619353 w-1000 h=680] In honor of the founder of The Dead, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and my all-time favorite song by the man himself, Two Souls in Communion (or more relatively referred to as The Stranger), I merged a tribute video created by Marmalade Sky with my favorite recording of the song from their Amsterdam gig during their European tour of ’72. Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as Pigpen, was an American singer and musician. He was a member of the rock band Grateful Dead, in which he sung and played the keybord. [3] He built up a substantial collection of old blues 78s from labels such as Kent and Chess. Steve Parish claims Pigpen and his brother both died from complications of Crohn's disease. Ron was the son of Esther Elvera (Nelson) and Phillip Charles McKernan, a disc jockey. Above: Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan (1945-1973) photographed in 1972 (Image credit: Getty) The 80s began with new keyboard player Brent Mydland replacing Keith and Donna Godchaux, and the release of the patchy Go To Heaven album, whose cover made the group look like ageing New Romantics. Like his one-time love interest Janis Joplin, Pigpen died at 27. Charlie." Ron "Pigpen" McKernan played keyboards and harmonica until shortly before his death in 1973 at the age of 27. By the time he plays his last concert (June 17, 1972), he can only get through the first set. One joined the “27 Club” and the other left the drugs behind when he put his faith in Christ. No cause of death has been listed, but Wales suffered a medical emergency on December 6th and was rushed to the hospital where he died on the 7th. "[34][35], McKernan was not a prolific songwriter, preferring to concentrate on blues covers and improvised lyrics. Little is known about his family or early life. [14][15] In 1967, drummer Mickey Hart joined the Grateful Dead, followed by classically trained keyboardist Tom Constanten in 1968, further changing the group's style. Official Sites. The son of one of the first white rhythm and blues disk jockeys, McKernan grew up around music. The vocalist and keyboardist proved responsible for the band's blues-based tone, even taking over singing duties on tunes such as "Turn on Your Lovelight," "Alligator," "Big Boss Man," and "Mr. Co-founding member of the Grateful Dead Ron “Pigpen” McKernan sadly passed away on this date in 1973 at the young age of 27. Constanten often replaced McKernan on keyboards in the studio, as McKernan found it difficult to adapt to the new material that Garcia and Lesh composed for the band. Following a hiatus, he resumed touring with the group in December 1971 but was forced to retire from touring altogether in June 1972. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was the first member of the Grateful Dead to pass away. The band’s members also included Jerry Garcia, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir. He was a member of the rock band Grateful Dead, in which he sung and played the keybord. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. [10] Drummer Bill Kreutzmann was added and the band evolved into the Warlocks. 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