After an aborted career in the US army, he became involved in the psychedelic revolution and subsequent musical movement brewing in the San Francisco Bay area in the mid 1960s. Jerry Garcia's outlet was music, and his subsequent involvement with the Grateful Dead was to see his fame burgeon. From 1965-1995 the band toured almost constantly, developing a fan base, known as Deadheads, renowned for its intensity and devotion.
In addition to the Grateful Dead, he had numerous side projects. The most notable being the Jerry Garcia Band which had a variety of several different groupings of musicians, often described as Jerry Garcia Band, Legion of Mary, Reconstruction, and finally The Jerry Garcia Band, he also was involved with various acoustic vehicles such as Old and In the Way, and other Bluegrass bands, including collaborations with David Grisman.
Having studied art at the California Academy of Art, he made a second career around the uses of his art on ties at first, and later Birkenstocks. Jerry Garcia died August 9, 1995 of heart trouble.
In 1987, the icecream manufactuter Ben and Jerry named one of their products Cherry Garcia after this musician.