Ron “Pigpen” McKernan Episode 2: A Life-Changing Car Crash, Mind Experiments, and Hanging onto the Blues


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Ron "Pigpen" McKernan could already feel his influence in the band waning from early on. Even back when the Grateful Dead were still known as the Warlocks. Whereas Pig subsisted on raw power fueled by alcohol and blues music, the rest of the members of the band were functioning on a completely different level. They listened to music, talked literature, and explored the cosmos...while loaded to the gills on LSD. Pig did not partake. He found himself not just playing in a band, but navigating a world of merry pranksters, acid tests, and long, strange trips.


A Long Strange Trip: The Inside Story of the Grateful Dead, by Dennis McNally

Garcia: An American Life, by Blair Jackson

Searching for the Sound, by Phil Lesh

The Grateful Dead FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Greatest Jam Band in History, by Tony Sclafani

Drugs and the 'Beats': The Role of Drugs in the Lives and Writings of Kerouac, Burroughs and Ginsberg by John Long

Living with The Dead: Twenty Years on the Bus with Garcia and the Grateful Dead, by Rock Scully with David Dalton

Jerry Garcia & Sandy Rothman travel down south (Woodstock Records)

High Flying Bird – Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia interview

Kepler's Books 60th Anniversary (Metro Silicon Valley)

Grateful Dead Guide: Pigpen Solo (Dead Essays)

Flashback: LSD Creator Albert Hofmann Drops Acid for the First Time (Rolling Stone)

'Apparently Useless': The Accidental Discovery of LSD (The Atlantic)

What a Trip (Stanford Magazine)

Ken Kesey & The Merry Pranksters (University of Virginia)

A brief history of psychedelic psychiatry (The Guardian)

Ken Kesey On Misconceptions Of Counterculture (NPR)

“We Were Alive and Life Was Us.” How Ken Kesey Created LSD Subculture (Lithub)

Ken Kesey's First LSD Trip Animated (Open Culture)

Therapeutic Use of LSD in Psychiatry: A Systematic Review of Randomized-Controlled Clinical Trials (Frontiers)

Did the CIA's Experiments With Psychedelic Drugs Unwittingly Create the Grateful Dead? (Collectors Weekly)

Doors of Perception: How Aldous Huxley Brought LSD Therapy to His Readers (Psychedelic Times)

Inside the 1950s LSD Therapy That Changed Cary Grant's Life (Vulture)

Ken Kesey and Jerry Garcia on the Tom Snyder Show, 1981

The CIA's Secret Quest For Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A 'Poisoner In Chief' (NPR)

What a Long Strange Trip — LSD and the Grateful Dead (Medium)

How the Warlocks Passed the Acid Tests (Relix)

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Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse and many more musical icons all died at the age of 27. Scandalous, tortured, dramatic, and incredibly talented, these artists torched a wild path to their early graves and shifted and shaped our culture along the way. 27 Club tells their stories. 27 Club is hosted and created by Jake Brennan, host and creator of the award-winning music and true crime podcast DISGRACELAND. 27 Club is not a journalistic podcast. It is an entertainment podcast inspired by true events. For more shows like 27 Club, check out

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