Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was born Sept. 8, 1945 and died from alcohol abuse on March 8, 1973. His father had been a San Francisco radio DJ who played deep blues, soul and R&B, which greatly influenced his son. Ron had always had a wild streak, but was also known to be a really nice guy. He could definitely play harmonica and and sing the Blues better than most white kids. In fact, even growing up in the San Francisco Bay area he proved to be a true rebel, with an attitude and approach to the world that inspired many people (especially wanna-be hoods like me.) He thrived off of African-American culture – just like his contemporaries Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, and Janis Joplin did. In many ways, Pigpen is the forgotten Grateful Dead co-founder – just like Brian Jones became the forgotten founder of the Rolling Stones. Both were treated quite badly at the end by their respective band mates who were in their defense young and ambitious at the time.Click Below to learn about his contributions, roots, lifestyle, and unfortunate early death.