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Jerry Garcia Turns 75: A 'Dark Star' Celebration

Jerry Garcia would have turned 75 on Tuesday.
Jim Marshall
Jerry Garcia would have turned 75 on Tuesday.

It's hard to believe that Jerry Garcia would have turned 75 Tuesday.

Eight days after his 53rd birthday, the Grateful Dead legend died in his sleep at a recovery center, while trying one last time to shake his addictions.

Garcia was always an old soul: He'd been here before and he knew it. He was already familiar with the rules, yet he defied conventions and created a body of work that many are still discovering and appreciating.

There are countless ways to mark his birthday — Grateful Dead theater meet up, anyone? — but 75 seems like too significant a number to ignore. So here's another tribute: a five-track playlist of different versions of "Dark Star," the song that launched 246 jams over The Grateful Dead's 28-year history. To my mind, it was the song that pushed Garcia and the entire band to their exploratory and avant garde edges.

For the record: These five versions are chosen using no other criteria than the fact that I dig them.

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Felix Contreras is co-creator and host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.