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HARD ROCKERS CURSE - ALL DEAD AT AGE 27! - RON "PIGPEN" McKERNAN - GREATFUL DEAD - MARCH 8 1973

Ronald C. "Pigpen" McKernan (September 8, 1945 March 8, 1973) was a founding member of the Grateful Dead. His contributions to the band included vocals, Hammond organ, harmonica, percussion, and occasionally guitar. In 1994, Pigpen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, along with the other members of the Grateful Dead.

McKernan was born in San Bruno, California, the son of an R&B and blues disc jockey. He grew up with many African-American friends and felt very strongly connected to black music and culture. As a youth, McKernan taught himself blues piano and developed a biker image. In his early teens, McKernan left Palo Alto High School by mutual agreement with the school's principal. He also began using alcohol in his adolescence.

In 1970, McKernan began experiencing symptoms of congenital biliary cirrhosis. After an August 1971 hospitalization, doctors requested that he stop touring indefinitely; pianist Keith Godchaux was subsequently hired and remained a permanent member of the band until 1979. Ever restless, the ailing McKernan rejoined the band in December 1971 to supplement Godchaux on harmonica, percussion, and organ. Unfortunately, after their Europe '72 tour, his health had degenerated to the point where he could no longer continue on the road. He made his final concert appearance on June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles, California.

On March 8, 1973, he was found dead of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage at his home in Corte Madera, California. McKernan is buried at the Alta Mesa Memorial Park (Plot: Hillview Section 16 Lot 311) in Palo Alto, California. His grave marker is inscribed:

RONALD C. McKERNAN
19451973
PIGPEN WAS
AND IS NOW FOREVER
ONE OF THE
GRATEFUL DEAD
 

HARD ROCKERS CURSE - ALL DEAD AT AGE 27! - RON "PIGPEN" McKERNAN -  GREATFUL DEAD - MARCH 8 1973







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