Ronald McKernan was a great member of the Grateful Dead and will always be remembered. Ron McKernan contribution to the Grateful Dead includded vocals, hammond organ, harmonica, percussion and occasionallyguitar. Ron McKernan grew up with many African American friends. This is where Ron got his passion for the blues and the African American music culture. Another important insperation in Ron's life was his father because he was the main person who put Ron's future to the blues.
After his cessation of Ron's high school he began using alcohol. Ronal so goes by an nickname of Pigpen. He gained this nickname from a high school friend named Roger. Roger gave him this name because of his funky approch to life and sanitation. Pigpen began hanging out at coffeehouses and music stores. This is where he came across Jerry Garcia. One night at the coffee house Jerry invited Pigpen on stage to play harmonica and sing the blues. Jerry was impressed with his talents and had Pigpen join him in jam sessions. It was then that Pigpen introduced the idea of starting a rock band. Pigpen urged the band to switch to electric insruments. During this time Bob Weir and Bill Kretzman were added to the band. This then formed what has been reported as the Warlocks. During this time when Pigpens friends where experimenting with LSD and other psychedelics. Pigpen as busy with his Thunderbird Wine and Southern Comfort. Pigpens contrabution to the band increased with the signature tunes of: Turn on your Love light,and In the Midnight Hour
In 1970 Pigpen became ill and began having symptoms of condenital beliary cirrhosia. In August of 1971 Pigpen was hospitallized. The doctors suggested that Pigpen stop touring. Pigpens passion to play was to strong and contunued to play. In June 1972 Pigpens health degenerated and he could no longer participate in the band. His final concert appearence was at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles. Sadness overwhelmd the Grateful Dead Band when Pigpen was found dead in his home on March 8, 1973. Pigpen died of gastrointestinal hemorrhage. It has been reported that on Pigpens grave marker is inscribed.
Ronald C. McKernan
And Is Now Forever
One Of The
Pigpen was a great band member to the Grateful Dead and will be always missed and always be remembered.