August 30, 1999 12:00 PM

by Blair Jackson

This reverential biography of Jerry Garcia, the talented, unkempt leader of the Grateful Dead, the iconic road band of the ’60s and beyond, will appeal mainly to two groups. Rabid admirers, like the author, who calls himself a “journalist” but admits to being “a fan, a Deadhead,” will enjoy the way he lionizes his subject. Jackson manages to rationalize even Garcia’s drug addictions and health problems, which led to his death at 53 in 1995. Students of pop music will appreciate the book’s wealth of detail, including an almost note-by-note history of the band, which began in 1965 and whose finances were in constant turmoil over three decades.

Most readers, though, will be put off by Jackson’s cutesy references to Garcia’s widow, Carolyn, as Mountain Girl, her ’60s nickname, or his appropriation of Garcia phrases such as “old-timey” for “traditional.” (Viking, $34.95)

Bottom Line: Much ado…a slavish fan’s notes

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