string(156) "Grave of Mark Sandman. Mark Sandman was born on September 24, 1952 and died in Giardini del Principe, Palestrina, Italy due to Heart attack on July 3, 1999."
string(174) "Grave of Bunk Johnson. Bunk Johnson was born on December 27, 1885 and died in 638 Franklin Street, New Iberia, Louisiana due to Lingering effects of a stroke on July 7, 1949."
At the height of the Grateful Dead's breakout success in the early 1970s, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan served as a driving force behind the jam band's legendary acclaim. The vocalist and keyboardist proved responsible for the band's blues-based tone, even taking over singing duties on tunes such as "Turn on Your Lovelight," "Alligator," "Big Boss Man," and "Mr. Charlie." Using his trusty Hammond organ, the musician helped the Dead attract mass attention. Pigpen also made a name for himself by speaking directly to the audience during live shows, sizing up to be much more of a traditional frontman than Jerry Garcia. In declining health, Pigpen played in March '72 the Academy of Music shows, one of them featuring the Dead serving as a backup band for the legendary rocker Bo Diddley. And he made it to Europe the next month, against his doc’s advice. Alas he played his last gig with the Dead in June ’72 at the Hollywood Bowl. After that, there were few excuses the band could make of his absence. Although he had seemed well enough on the European tour in the spring, Pigpen McKernan was losing his grip in life. The doctors told him what he needed wasn’t good lovin’ but a lot of rest, no booze and lots of protein to put his decaying liver back together. Despite his dedication to getting healthy again and working on a solo album, he lost his battle in March ’73 and died alone at the age of 27.
Good to Know
Many initially believed McKernan to have passed away due to cirrhosis of the liver caused by excessive drinking, however, this is not true as it has been confirmed he actually succumbed to Crohn’s disease, an inflammation of the small intestine, which also claimed the life of his brother, Kevin. Pigpen was found dead at his home in Corte Madera, California of a gastrointestinal hemorrhage on March 8, 1973.
Final Resting Place:
Alta Mesa Memorial Park
695 Arastradero Road
Palo Alto, California, 94306
Map of Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto, California
Hillview Section, Block 16, Lot 311
Grave Location Description
As you enter the cemetery look for Almond Drive. Pigpen’s grave is in the Hillview Section, Section 16 on the right side of Almond Drive. Look for the plots along the road is labeled “Ramirez” and “Lien” and count two rows in and one of the original founders of the Grateful Dead can be found there.