Year: 1973. He was buried at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto. 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. Ron McKernan died on March 6, 1973, in Corte Madera, California, USA of massive gastrointestinal hemorrhage. By 1971, his health had been affected by alcoholism and liver damage and doctors advised him to stop touring. 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 and Barry McGuire fell into these traps. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, the influential co-founding member of the Grateful Dead, sadly died on this date in 1973. McKernan was found dead of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage on March 8, 1973, aged 27, and is buried at Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto. The cause of death was undetermined. 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. [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. Like his one-time love interest Janis Joplin, Pigpen died at 27. 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". 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. On March 8, 1973, Ron McKernan died at age 27. 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. 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. Name: Jim Morrison. 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. [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. [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. [61], "He's Gone", originally appearing on the live album Europe '72, subsequently became a eulogy to McKernan by his former bandmates. [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. 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. In contrast, though, McKernan was always encouraged to sing material live and left the group due to ill health, while Jones was fired. Band: Grateful Dead. 'Pigpen' McKernan lived up to his name but he died at 27 of alcohol abuse Garcia was paid $125,000 by Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for the use of ‘Cherry Garcia’ By Caroline Howe For Dailymail.com Ron McKernan was born on September 8, 1945 in San Bruno, California, USA as Ronald Charles McKernan. [11][12], The Dead's early sets centered around blues and R&B covers chosen by McKernan. The combination of Crohn's and alcoholism would make a lot more sense than an otherwise healthy 27 year old drinking himself to death. [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. Pigpen's love of the blues was equaled only by his love of alcohol, a demon he couldn't shake. [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. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan played keyboards and harmonica until shortly before his death in 1973 at the age of 27. [45] While his bandmates and friends were using cannabis, LSD, and other hallucinogenic drugs, McKernan preferred alcoholic beverages such as Thunderbird and Southern Comfort. The son of one of the first white rhythm and blues disk jockeys, McKernan grew up around music. On March 8, 1973, Ron McKernan died at age 27. [10] Drummer Bill Kreutzmann was added and the band evolved into the Warlocks. 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 Respect to the player but I thought he was an alcoholic as hinted at in the text. By the time he plays his last concert (June 17, 1972), he can only get through the first set. Buried: Palo Alto, CA. 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. [13] By the end of 1966, Garcia had improved his musical skills, changing the band's direction and reducing McKernan's contributions. About Ron "Pigpen" McKernan Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as Pigpen, was an American singer and musician. Musician. [54][b] Garcia spoke at his funeral, saying "After Pigpen's death we all knew this was the end of the original Grateful Dead". McKernan sang, and played organ and harmonica. Official Sites. The song appeared on the live album Europe '72, his last with the group. His father was a rhythm and blues disk jockey, so Pigpen got exposed to that type of music at an early age. Co-founding member of the Grateful Dead Ron “Pigpen” McKernan sadly passed away on this date in 1973 at the young age of 27. 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". Better known as Pigpen, he was considered by many to … [40], McKernan's alcohol abuse had begun to affect his health by his mid twenties. During the band's early days, he was considered its heart and soul. Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann were eventually inducted into the lineup, which led to the band rebranding as The Warlocks. Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. When Phil Lesh joined, the five-piece solidified as the Grateful Dead. McKernan was the first of the Dead's founding members to suggest they form a band, and his life-long infatuation with … Co-founding member of the Grateful Dead Ron “Pigpen” McKernan sadly passed away on this date in 1973 at the young age of 27. 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. (Redirected from Ron McKernan) Ronald Charles McKernan (September 8, 1945 – March 8, 1973), known as Pigpen , was an American singer and musician. 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. 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. [29][30] Unlike fellow vocalists Garcia and Weir, he sang lead without playing any instrument except harmonica and actively interacted with the audience, occasionally walking out into the crowd. ... Two years after her death, her brother came out to the public stating that he believes it was her eating disorder that killed her. 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. Explore Ron Pigpen McKernan's biography, personal life, family and cause of death. [50] Pianist Keith Godchaux was subsequently hired and remained a regular member of the Grateful Dead until 1979. He was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972. 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. https://www.geni.com/people/Ron-Pigpen-McKernan/6000000034842914770 [56], Despite his outward image, friends and band biographers have described McKernan as a quiet, kind, and introspective person. [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 was a founding member of the San Francisco band the Grateful Dead and played in the group from 1965 to 1972. 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