Last Rites

updated 09/01/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/01/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

The news, like some universal drumbeat, summoned them to Tranquility Park in Houston and New York City's Strawberry Fields, Washington's Lincoln Memorial and the intersection of Haight and Ashbury Streets in San Francisco, where long ago it all began. Even in smaller towns, fans gathered in parks and parking lots, a scattered tribe reunited to say hail, and farewell, to the chief. Two days after the impromptu convocations came the private funeral, with Garcia's body, clad in the T-shirt and sweatpants he lived in, displayed in an open casket. "It was very emotional for everybody," says former Dead vocalist Donna Godchaux MacKay, who flew from her home in Alabama to attend the service at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Belvedere, Calif. "The grief, it seemed, came in waves. People would be weeping, and a few minutes later they'd be laughing and talking about Jerry."

On Sunday morning, Aug. 13, Garcia's family and friends joined 25,000 fans in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, where music helped make the atmosphere more festive than funereal. "Garcia later" said one Deadhead's T-shirt. Distilling the wake's joyful sorrow, '60s veteran Wavy Gravy, dressed as a clown, stepped out of a time warp and riffed on a famous phrase from Peanuts:' 'We are having some good grief here today."

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