Happy Birthday to John Kahn born! – June 13, 1947 – May 30, 1996
John Kahn was an American rock and roll bass guitarist. From 1970 to 1995, Kahn was Jerry Garcia’s principal musical collaborator outside of the Grateful Dead.
John Kahn was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Adopted at birth by talent agents, he grew up in Beverly Hills, California and was babysat by Marilyn Monroe. At Beverly Hills High School, he earned a reputation as a precocious musician playing jazz guitar and composing a symphonic piece, “Western Impressions”, the first orchestral work by a student to be publicly performed by the school’s orchestra under the direction of Robert Holmes.
In his junior year, Kahn switched to double bass and formed a jazz duo with a pianist, Peter Isackson, who encouraged him to study with Monty Budwig, a member of the house rhythm section at Shelly’s Manne-hole. After briefly attending the University of Southern California, he transferred to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1965. During this period, he lived in nearby Sausalito, California and began to gravitate toward the incipient rock culture of the Haight-Ashbury district. In 1967, he began working as a session musician with a litany of notable blues, folk, and rock performers, including Mike Bloomfield, Nick Gravenites, Mississippi Fred McDowell, John Lee Hooker, Brewer & Shipley (a longstanding collaboration that encompassed their 1971 Top Ten hit “One Toke Over the Line”), Tom Fogerty, Maria Muldaur, Al Kooper, Jackie DeShannon, and Otis Rush.