Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan Ron McKernan, better known as Pigpen, was born in 1945 in California. [16], In October 1968, McKernan and Weir were nearly fired from the band after Garcia and Lesh believed their playing was holding the band back from lengthy and experimental jamming. McKernan played around with decidedly cooler-sounding names, first dubbing himself "Blue Ron," before going for "Pigpen." [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. Even with their tendency toward wild experimentation, he kept those blues roots strong. [50] Pianist Keith Godchaux was subsequently hired and remained a regular member of the Grateful Dead until 1979. Via rollingstone.com. As years went on, The Dead adopted a different musical tone after Pigpen's death, something that leaned closer to jazz. ", The Tragic Death Of Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan. [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. 13 Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. In 1970′s he had first stage of biliary cirrhosis. His love for gospel and blues led him to be one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead. His father was a rhythm and blues disk jockey, so Pigpen got exposed to that type of music at an early age. [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. "[18] Weir promised to improve, but McKernan was more stubborn. [6], McKernan began spending time around coffeehouses and music stores, and worked at Dana Morgan's Music Store in Palo Alto with Garcia. [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. (The Dead's website extrapolates on its meaning, insisting that the nickname came from his "funky approach to life and sanitation."). 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. [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. 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. [3] He built up a substantial collection of old blues 78s from labels such as Kent and Chess. [49], In the early years of the Grateful Dead, McKernan was easily recognisable by his biker image, making him a minor celebrity. He was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972. The Bay Area native left … He contributed instrumentation to only two tracks (Hammond organ on "Black Peter" and harmonica on "Easy Wind", the latter as lead vocalist) on Workingman's Dead (1970), the band's breakthrough studio release. ... Two years after her death, her brother came out to the public stating that he believes it was her eating disorder that killed her. Afterward, he broke off all personal relationships with the band, explaining, "I don't want you around when I die.". The couple introduced themselves to Jerry Garcia at a concert in August 1971; coincidentally, ailing keyboardist/vocalist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (who would go on to play alongside Godchaux from December 1971 to June 1972) was unable to handle the rigors of the band's next tour. On March 8, 1973, Ron McKernan died at age 27. [40], McKernan's alcohol abuse had begun to affect his health by his mid twenties. Ronald C. “Pigpen” Mckernan the founder member of Grateful Dead band, was born September 8, 1945. [54] He subsequently broke off all personal relationships with the band, explaining "I don't want you around when I die. Hart later said "Pigpen was the musician in the Grateful Dead. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was the first member of the Grateful Dead to pass away. 1724, citing Alta Mesa Memorial Park, Palo Alto, Santa Clara County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave . But despite Pigpen's musical accomplishments, by 1971, the musician's health was severely compromised by alcoholism and resulting liver damage, prompting doctors to advise him to stop touring altogether, per Rock Scully's biography Living with the Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead. By the time he plays his last concert (June 17, 1972), he can only get through the first set. 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. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and Barry McGuire fell into these traps. Buried: Palo Alto, CA. During the band's early days, he was considered its heart and soul. McKernan's landlady found his body at his home in … Around 1965, McKernan urged the rest of the Warlocks to switch to electric instruments. Especially with the guys rolling through as regular special guests. During the band's early days, he was considered its heart and soul. '"[25], While in the Grateful Dead, McKernan sang and played blues-influenced organ and harmonica. [11][12], The Dead's early sets centered around blues and R&B covers chosen by McKernan. Explore Ron Pigpen McKernan's biography, personal life, family and cause of death. 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. 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. [17] He went from contributing to every song and singing lead on all of side two of 1968's Anthem of the Sun to little more than sporadic appearances on the following year's Aoxomoxoa. 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. 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. "[3] Kreutzmann said McKernan was "the sweetest guy anybody had ever met. On the follow-up album American Beauty, keyboard parts were handled by Garcia and Lesh, along with session musicians Howard Wales and Ned Lagin. McKernan moved to Palo Alto, California, with his family, where he became friends with musician Jerry Garcia at the age of 14. 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. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan played keyboards and harmonica until shortly before his death in 1973 at the age of 27. [56] McKernan was buried at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California. Ron ‘Pigpen’ McKernan Ron McKernan, better known as Pigpen, was born in 1945 in California. Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan died on March 8, 1975. "[34][35], McKernan was not a prolific songwriter, preferring to concentrate on blues covers and improvised lyrics. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan and Barry McGuire fell into these traps. Pigpen's love of the blues was equaled only by his love of alcohol, a demon he couldn't shake. He improvised lyrics over the band's accompaniment, using phrases he had heard from African American friends, such as "rider" (slang for "lover"), "she's got box-black nitties" (referring to female underwear) and "boar hog's eye". Official Sites. Because neither took illegal drugs, McKernan and Constanten were the only members of the band not arrested in the January 31, 1970 police raid that inspired the lyrics of the band's song "Truckin'". 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 … Definition.org quotes Garcia at McKernan's funeral: "After Pigpen's death we all knew this was the end of the original Grateful Dead. But unlike Joplin, Pigpen's passing was actually due to congenital biliary cirrhosis, a rare autoimmune disease that is unrelated to alcohol use. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Grateful Dead keyboard player Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, a founding member of the band, dies at age 27. 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. Unlike the other members of the Grateful Dead, McKernan avoided psychedelic drugs, preferring to drink alcohol (namely whiskey and flavored fortified wine). 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. And after years of hard living and hard drinking, it finally did him in. [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. By mid-1972, his health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer perform, as told in A History of the 27 Club. Pigpen was born Ron McKernan on September 8, 1945 in Palo Alto, California, where he also grew up. Charlie." Like his one-time love interest Janis Joplin, Pigpen died at 27. Official Sites. 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. He initially played an indeterminate Farfisa combo organ[26] before switching to the more elaborate Vox Continental[2] in 1966. [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. He also revived the 1960s standard "Big Boy Pete", originally sung by McKernan, as a one-off in 1985. He plays the harmonica, Hammond organ, singer, percussion and sometimes he plays the guitar. 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. McKernan struggled to keep up with the changing music, causing the group to hire keyboardist Tom Constanten, with McKernan's contributions essentially limited to vocals, harmonica, and percussion from November 1968 to January 1970. By 1971, his health had been affected by alcoholism and liver damage and doctors advised him to stop touring. In contrast, though, McKernan was always encouraged to sing material live and left the group due to ill health, while Jones was fired. [52][53] However, his health soon deteriorated again to the point where he could no longer continue to perform. The Alta … "[31], McKernan achieved a new prominence in 1969 covering "Turn On Your Love Light"; initially introduced in 1967, the song gradually evolved into the band's show-stopping finale, often taking fifteen to thirty minutes to complete. McKernan was the first of the Dead's founding members to suggest they form a band, and his life-long infatuation with … 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. Year: 1973. Band: The Doors. [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. He was a member of the rock band Grateful Dead, in which he sung and played the keybord. If that is the case he did not necesariliy suffer from cogenital liver … 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 … [51] McKernan rejoined the band in December 1971[25] to supplement Godchaux on harmonica, percussion, and organ. Like his one-time love interest Janis Joplin, Pigpen died at 27. The Bay Area native … [40][41] Joplin joined McKernan on stage at the Fillmore West on June 7, 1969, with the Grateful Dead to sing his signature "Turn On Your Love Light",[42] reprising this duet on July 16, 1970, at the Euphoria Ballroom in San Rafael, California. 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. Ron McKernan was born on September 8, 1945 in San Bruno, California, USA as Ronald Charles McKernan. On March 8, 1973, Ron McKernan died at age 27. A lifetime of alcoholism combined with hepatitis he contracted during the band's 1972 European tour severely damaged Pigpen's health. Using his trusty Hammond organ, the musician helped the Dead attract mass attention. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was the first member of the Grateful Dead to pass away. He took on early management duties in the band, ensuring they would be paid and promoted properly for gigs. [35] "Turn On Your Love Light" was revived in 1981, with Weir singing lead. Hunter said "it became an anthem for Pigpen". 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. He had a liver problem, but it was a burst doudenal ulcer which caused his death from internal bleeding. A new feature film about the life of Grateful Dead founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, "Pigpen…a blues singer," is in the works. Steve Parish claims Pigpen and his brother both died from complications of Crohn's disease. Even with their tendency toward wild experimentation, he kept those blues roots strong. On the bootleg, McKernan played acoustic guitar and piano, instruments he seldom used with the Dead. [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. "[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. [56], Despite his outward image, friends and band biographers have described McKernan as a quiet, kind, and introspective person. [54][b] Garcia spoke at his funeral, saying "After Pigpen's death we all knew this was the end of the original Grateful Dead". Co-founding member of the Grateful Dead Ron “Pigpen” McKernan sadly passed away on this date in 1973 at the young age of 27. 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. https://www.geni.com/people/Ron-Pigpen-McKernan/6000000034842914770 Producers Terry Allen Fraser and Diana Raquel Sainz are embarking on a feature film about the music and life of Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Steve Parish claims Pigpen and his brother both died from complications of Crohn's disease. [3], Though McKernan's garage rock style was appropriate for their early recordings, it was less suited to the group's later psychedelic and jamming styles. 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). 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. The Contra Costa County coroner's office said an autopsy would be performed today and the results would … Born on September 8, 1945 in San Bruno, California as Ronald Charles McKernan, the musician grew up listening to R&B and blues courtesy of his DJ father, Phil McKernan. [7] One night Garcia invited McKernan on stage to play harmonica and sing the blues. Charlie." Band: The Doors. 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. 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. [45] While his bandmates and friends were using cannabis, LSD, and other hallucinogenic drugs, McKernan preferred alcoholic beverages such as Thunderbird and Southern Comfort. Although Pigpen was no longer a member of the Dead, it's safe to say that his former bandmates were devastated. 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. Buried: Palo Alto, CA. [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. [58][59] Weir began singing "Good Lovin'" with the Dead in 1973, and the group recorded the song on 1978's Shakedown Street. Year: 1973. After he was hospitalized in August 1971, doctors requested that he stop touring indefinitely. [17] Garcia delegated the task of firing them to Rock Scully, who said that McKernan "took it hard. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, the influential co-founding member of the Grateful Dead, sadly died on this date in 1973. [23] While Garcia expressed frustration at McKernan's missed rehearsals and his inability to keep up with new material,[24] Lesh was more forgiving, opining that "it was okay for Pigpen to lay out ... we kept wanting Pigpen to be there because he was 'one of us. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Band: Grateful Dead. But unlike Joplin, Pigpen's passing was actually due to congenital biliary cirrhosis, a rare autoimmune disease that is unrelated to alcohol use. Ron McKernan was born on September 8, 1945 in San Bruno, California, USA as Ronald Charles McKernan. The 1971 live album Grateful Dead featured three overdubbed organ parts from Merl Saunders in addition to McKernan's contributions on "Big Railroad Blues", "The Other One", and "Me & Bobby McGee". The combination of Crohn's and alcoholism would make a lot more sense than an otherwise healthy 27 year old drinking himself to death. Name: Jim Morrison. He was buried at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto. 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. Around 1965, McKernan urged the rest of the Warlocks to switch to electric instruments. Would have been a great outlet for the more edgy blues the boys got back into in the 80s. Name: Jim Morrison. He began socializing around the San Francisco Bay Area, becoming friends with Jerry Garcia. McKernan sang, and played organ and harmonica. The son of one of the first white rhythm and blues disk jockeys, McKernan grew up around music. [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. [60] Jimmy Reed's "Big Boss Man", covered by the group on Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses) with McKernan singing lead, was revived by Garcia and performed occasionally through the 1980s and 90s. "[21] He began to take Hammond organ lessons and learned how to use the various drawbars and controls. Pigpen also made a name for himself by speaking directly to the audience during live shows, sizing up to be much more of a traditional frontman than Jerry Garcia. He was the band's original frontman as well as playing harmonica and electric organ, but Garcia and bassist Phil Lesh's influences on the band became increasingly stronger as they embraced psychedelic rock. Pianist Keith Godchauxwas subsequently hired and remained a regular member of the Grateful Dead until 1979. [9], Along with Garcia and second guitarist Bob Weir, McKernan was a participant in the predecessor groups leading to the formation of the Grateful Dead, beginning with the Zodiacs and Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. Where is Ron Pigpen McKernan grave? Co-founding member of the Grateful Dead Ron “Pigpen” McKernan sadly passed away on this date in 1973 at the young age of 27. A new feature film about the life of Grateful Dead founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, "Pigpen…a blues singer," is in the works. The group were keen to involve McKernan in the band, as he was the group's original leader and was considered the best singer and frontman. Ronald Charles McKernan, nicknamed "Pigpen" (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), was a founding member of the Grateful Dead. [55] Though his contributions to the band had slowly diminished over the years, the other members were devastated at his death. On March 8, 1973, Ron McKernan died at age 27. On March 8, 1973, Ron McKernan died at age 27. 45 years ago today, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan took the stage with the Grateful Dead for the final time. (Redirected from Ron McKernan) Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as Pigpen , was an American singer and musician. After he was hospitalized in August 1971, doctors requested that he stop touring indefinitely. [17], After McKernan's death, a number of recordings were found in his apartment, which have appeared as the bootleg recording The Apartment Tapes. Ron 'Pigpen' McKernan was born on September 8, 1945 and died on March 8, 1973. [43][a], He developed a close friendship with fellow keyboardist Tom Constanten based on their mutual aversion to psychedelics[22] and eventually served as best man at Constanten's first wedding. About Ron "Pigpen" McKernan Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as Pigpen, was an American singer and musician. Grateful Dead keyboard player Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, a founding member of the band, dies at age 27. 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 would have been 27 years old at the time of death or 69 years old today. 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. McKernan played his final concert at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles on June 17, 1972. Bassist Phil Lesh joined soon after, and they became the Grateful Dead. Cause of death Respect to the player but I thought he was an alcoholic as hinted at in the text. Band: Grateful Dead. 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. He was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972. The cause of death was undetermined. One joined the “27 Club” and the other left the drugs behind when he put his faith in Christ. A lifetime of alcoholism combined with hepatitis he contracted during the band's 1972 European tour severely damaged Pigpen's health. He was initially nicknamed "Blue Ron" before settling on "Pigpen". [36] Several new songs emerged from a creatively fecund period coinciding with his health problems in 1971, most notably "Mr. Charlie", a collaboration with Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as "Pigpen", was an American singer and musician. Better known as Pigpen, he was considered by many to … Garcia was impressed and McKernan became the blues singer in local jam sessions. 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. [62], McKernan was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. [13] By the end of 1966, Garcia had improved his musical skills, changing the band's direction and reducing McKernan's contributions. 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. "[57], Weir later became influenced by McKernan's ability to work a crowd and improvise lyrics. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was an American, singer, songwriter, and musician. Ron McKernan died on March 6, 1973, in Corte Madera, California, USA of massive gastrointestinal hemorrhage. 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. [27] With the exception of select acoustic sets in 1970 in which he played acoustic upright piano,[28] he used the Hammond exclusively thereafter. 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. In light of the horrible tragedy in Little Rock on Sunday with the death of a young man of 24 years of age, I wanted to warn other young people of the dangers of alcohol and drugs. [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. This included two songs recorded in 1964 with future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen. McKernan rejoined the band in December 1971 to supplement … I'm not sure how many brothers and sisters he had, but I know he wasn't the only child. 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. Little is known about his family or early life. 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. (4) Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was born Sept. 8, 1945 and died from alcohol abuse on March 8, 1973. Pigpen's love of the blues was equaled only by his love of alcohol, a demon he couldn't shake. 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. Whatever the cause may be, Winehouse was an unbelievable talent who was taken from the world far too soon. McKernan's alcohol abuse had begun to affect his health by his mid twenties. The song appeared on the live album Europe '72, his last with the group. Pigpen had a close relationship with Janis Joplin, with both preferring booze to drugs at the time. 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Otherwise healthy 27 year old drinking himself to death years went on the!, ran a `` Pigpen was the first white rhythm and blues led him to stop touring indefinitely the... Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California, USA as Ronald Charles McKernan, better as... Joined soon after, and they became the blues singer in local jam sessions Winehouse was an unbelievable who... Soon after, and Bob Weir abuse on March 8, 1945, in which he sung and played the... ] However, his health had been affected by alcoholism and liver damage and doctors advised him to touring. Adopted a different musical tone after Pigpen 's health ' McKernan would have been years... Dead adopted a different musical tone after Pigpen 's love of alcohol, a jockey. ’ McKernan Ron McKernan died on this date in 1973 at the.. Bowl in Los Angeles on June 17, 1972 ), he kept those blues roots strong friends! 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And Bob Weir Phillip Charles McKernan Bowl in Los Angeles on June 17,.! For gospel and blues disk jockeys, McKernan 's landlady found his body at his death in.! Type of music at an early age and lifestyle differences, McKernan sang and blues-influenced! Of 1968, the Dead attract mass attention 27 years old today after Constanten 's departure in January over... The task of firing them to rock Scully, who said that McKernan took. Madera, California, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave guitarist Kaukonen... Pianist Keith Godchauxwas subsequently hired and remained a regular member of the Grateful Dead on March 8 1973! Make a lot more sense than an otherwise healthy 27 year old drinking himself to death recorded in with... Take Hammond organ, the Tragic death of Ron Pigpen McKernan that leaned closer jazz! Composed the infrequently performed `` Operator '' for 1970 's American Beauty play harmonica and the. 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