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John Kahn

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Biography

John Kahn (13 June 1947 - 30 May 1996) was an American bass player. For a period of about twenty five years Kahn was Jerry Garcia’s principal collaborator outside of the Grateful Dead. He played in every line-up of the Jerry Garcia Band, and was in many other Garcia side projects, including Reconstruction, Legion Of Mary, and the Merl Saunders and Jerry Garcia band. He played acoustic stand-up bass in Old and in THE WAY, one of the first “” groups. Kahn also played alongside Garcia as acoustic bassist in The Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band, and often during the early eighties as the guitarist’s only accompanist in the Garcia and Kahn folk duo.

Although Kahn did occasional work for the Grateful Dead, serving as producer/engineer for the band’s aborted Egypt ‘78 live album and contributed organ and additional production to the Shakedown Street album, according to many books Kahn was generally not well liked within the Dead’s scene for allegedly encouraging Garcia’s drug habit.

Prior to his involvement with Garcia, Kahn played on The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper and was briefly a member of The Paul Butterfield Blues Band in one of its later line-ups. Other collaborators include Maria Muldaur, with whom he briefly had an affair, Nick Gravenites, and John Lee Hooker.

Kahn died at his home in Mill Valley, California on May 30, 1996, from complications of heart disease. Substantial amounts of heroin, cocaine, and antidepressants were found in his body; his wife Linda was arrested for possessing about a gram of cocaine shortly thereafter.

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