"He cultivated a biker image, but he was more the Marlon Brando Wild Ones sensitive, brooding type. But funkier, way funkier - he had a leather shirt that I saw him wear every day I knew him. Never was Pigpen more at home than with a bottle of wine and a guitar, at home or at some party, improvising epic lues rant lyrics, playing Lightnin' Hopkins songs, and doing Lord Buckley routines. For him, joining the Mother McCree's jug band with Bob and Jerry was just a small step away from what he did anyway. Garcia told me it was Pigpen's idea to turn Mother McCree's into an electric blues band. When the band turned into the Grateful Dead, Pig became our keel, our roots, our fundamental tone. Pig was the perfect front man for the Dead: intense, commanding, comforting; but I don't think he enjoyed doing that quite as much as sitting on a couch with a guitar and a jug."
"Pigpen was the only guy in the band who had any talent when we were starting out. He was genuinely talented. He also had no discipline, but he had reams of talent. And he had that magical thing of being able to make stuff up as he went along. He also had great stage presence. The ironic thing was that he hated it - it really meant nothing to him; it wasn't what he liked. We had to browbeat him into being a performer. His best performances were one-on-one, sitting in a room with an acoustic guitar. That's where he was really at home and at his best.
"Out in front of the crowd he could work the band, and he'd really get the audience going. He always had more nerve than I could believe. He'd get the audience on his side, and he'd pick somebody out (like a heckler) and get on them... He was the guy who really sold the band, not me or Weir. Pigpen is what made the band work."
"Pigpen was the musician in the Grateful Dead. When I first met the Grateful Dead, it was Pigpen and the boys. It was a blues band... Pigpen was a kind man. He looked so hard, but he was a kind, soft man. That's why he had to look so tough, because he was so kind, he would get stepped on... If there was one black chick in the audience, he'd always go home with her. Somehow he'd always have her up by his organ...by the end of the evening, she'd be up sitting on his stool. He just loved black women... He was the blues: he lived it, and he believed it, and he got caught in that web and he couldn't break out. And it killed him... He was just living the blues life: singing' the blues and drinkin' whiskey. That's what all blues guys did."
"Pigpen's father was a blues DJ who went by the name 'Cool Breeze'. Pigpen had an encyclopedic knowledge of all the blues artists, and Pigpen was a remarkable blues singer. The world never got to see the full measure of Pigpen. He could do so many things - he was so deep, so broad. I used to room with him on the road and I shared a house with him in Novato. I mean you'd look at him and see this Hell's Angel sort of character who sings this narrow band of music, and he was really into so many more things. Pigpen had a different inner and outer image. While his outer image was kind of like Pirate Pete who would shoot his gun at your feet to make you dance, yet he was also the guy who brought a portable chess game along on the road because he liked to play."