10. The 27 Club was joined by a member of the Grateful Dead in 1973
In the 1960s, San Francisco’s Grateful Dead developed a reputation as a local jam band, living together in a house in the Haight-Ashbury district, and contributing significantly to the period known as the heyday of the hippie movement and what was eventually known as the Summer of Love. The band also developed the reputation of being devoted users of various drugs, including the newly developed and for a time legal chemical LSD. Pot was also a drug of choice for members of the band and their devoted followers. For Ron McKernan, a founding member of the group and for a time its leader and lead singer, alcohol was the consciousness altering ingestible of choice, and he ingested it with an almost religious fervor.
Known as Pigpen to his fellow band members and fans (for reasons which were often self-evident), McKernan often resisted the tendencies of his fellow band members to expand on free-flowing jams, preferring to complete more structured pieces as the band’s musical direction. He also continued to imbibe freely, favoring a cheap but popular wine known as Thunderbird, as well as Southern Comfort, both of which he quaffed with enthusiasm. By his mid-twenties he exhibited several of the health effects connected with chronic alcohol abuse, and after an enforced sabbatical from the band he returned in late 1971, touring with them the following year, often passing out onstage. He died in March, 1973, of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage brought on by years of alcohol abuse. Grateful Dead guitarist and legend Jerry Garcialater called Pigpen’s death “â¦the end of the original Grateful Dead”.