Warren Haynes celebrated the life and music of Jerry Garcia last night in a performance that featured one of the most famous guitars Garcia ever owned.
The custom Doug Irwin Tiger guitar had not been played in public since Garcia’s last show with the Grateful Dead on July 9, 1995, at Chicago’s Soldier Field. He died one month later, on August 9.
Haynes played the guitar as part of the Jerry Garcia Symphonic Celebration with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado. The date of the show, August 1, is also Garcia’s 74th birthday. Haynes was joined by the Symphonic Celebration band, which includes drummer Jeff Sipe, bassist Lincoln Schleifer, singer Jasmine Muhammad and singer Jacklyn LaBranch, who served as a backing vocalist in the Jerry Garcia Band from 1983 until his death in 1995. Following the performance, the core group was joined by organist and longtime Jerry Garcia Band member Melvin Seals for a third set.
“We started thinking about ways to honor the occasion and who we’d like to have be a part of the celebration, and there really was no one who made more sense than Melvin,” Haynes tells JerryGarcia.com. “If all that wasn’t enough, having the opportunity to play Tiger for the very first time since Jerry played it at the last Dead show over 20 years ago, really is the cherry on top.”
Earlier in the day, Haynes posted a photo on Facebook that showed him rehearsing for the show with Tiger.
Tiger’s appearance was made possible through noted guitar collector and Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who purchased the instrument at auction for $957,500 (with commissions) in 2002. (That record-setting auction also netted Irsay Garcia’s Wolf ax.)