If he were still with us, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, one of the founding m…
Written by megarock on September 8, 2018
If he were still with us, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead, would have turned 73 years old today.
Ron grew up listening to his father's collection of records and taught himself how to play harmonica and piano. He began spending time around coffeehouses and music stores, and worked at Dana Morgan's Music store in San Francisco where he met guitarist Jerry Garcia. One night Garcia invited McKernan on stage to play harmonica and sing the blues. Garcia was impressed and McKernan became the blues singer in local jam sessions. He was initially nicknamed "Blue Ron" before settling on "Pigpen". Others say he was given the name due to his untidy and unclean habits and, other accounts claim that he got the nickname owing to his similarity to Pig-Pen, the permanently dirty character in the comic-strip Peanuts.
Unlike the other members of the Grateful Dead, McKernan avoided psychedelics, preferring to drink whiskey and wine. By 1971, a combination of increasing alcoholism and liver damage had begun to adversely affect his health, and he was advised to cease touring by doctors. He continued to perform live with the Grateful Dead as often as possible, but was forced to retire from touring in mid-1972. He was found dead of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage on March 8, 1973.
There are some who think the Dead was never the same after Ron left. Your thoughts?
Happy Birthday Ron. Return If Possible. Some think you wouldn't be happy with the way things ended up.