In celebration of what would have been Grateful Dead founding member and guitar virtuoso Jerry Garcia’s 80th year, Fender Custom Shop made a special announcement.
The famed instrument makers will launch the Jerry Garcia Alligator Stratocaster, an intricate replica of Garcia’s iconic axe.
Garcia’s Alligator Strat, a 1955 swamp ash Stratocaster, has a past as prolific as the musician himself. With a history far removed from the Grateful Dead, the guitar was gifted to him by Graham Nash, during his stint as a studio musician in which he was enlisted to play for big names like Jefferson Airplane and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young.
A few years, a few modifications and personal touches later the Alligator became Garcia’s go-to and the iconic instrument it is known for today. From the hammered brass control plate to the reptilian decal, from which the instrument is named, every ding, every cigarette burn, every inch tells a story.
Fender has worked to recreate that story faithfully. Every meticulous detail, every feature, and finish has been pored over to give fans a little bit of Garcia.
“There’s a lot I can tell you about this guitar,” said Garcia’s then guitar tech and dear friend, Steve Parish, “I’m very lucky because I got to work with Jerry to take care of his guitars… Jerry played a lot of guitars and a lot of Strats but he never had a favorite. Fender, Fender, Fender everything. He played Fender Twin Reverb because he loved it, and we collected every Fender we could buy. But this guitar quickly became his favorite.”
In the latest episode of Fender’s series, Dream Factory, Parish tells the guitar’s prolific story.
Photos courtesy Fender