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The Grateful Dead’s Pigpen being celebrated on 50th anniversary of death

Warner Records

March 8 marks 50 years since the death of The Grateful Dead’s co-founder and first frontman, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and the day isn’t going unnoticed.

First, The Good Ol’ Grateful Deadcast, the official podcast of The Grateful Dead, is kicking off its seventh season Wednesday with two episodes devoted to Pigpen. It will delve into Pigpen’s life and career, featuring newly unearthed documents and recordings, including excerpts from some never-before-heard 1964 tapes, one featuring Jerry Garcia. There’s also audio from what is believed to be the only surviving full-length Pigpen interview.

In addition, on May 5 a remastered 50th anniversary edition of History of The Grateful Dead, Volume 1 (Bear’s Choice) will be released. The live album, which originally came out in March 1973, was curated by Dead sound engineer Owsley “Bear” Stanley and features Pigpen singing lead on three of the seven tracks.

The release will come out digitally and on vinyl, along with 5,000 copies of a custom vinyl version with two different custom labels, featuring artwork with the iconic Grateful Dead Dancing Bears. It is available for preorder now at

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