A Legend Lives, on Film: “Pigpen... A Blues Singer”

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A new feature film about the life of Grateful Dead founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, "Pigpen…a blues singer," is in the works honoring a talent that remains forever in the hearts of many and is sure to delight blues fans and deadheads alike.

A new feature film about the life of Grateful Dead founding member Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, "Pigpen…a blues singer," is in the works. Producers Terry Allen Fraser and Diana Raquel Sainz are embarking on a feature film about the music and life of Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. This biopic about the American blues legend and co-founder of the Grateful Dead follows the life Pigpen from his start as a young blues musician to his time as the Grateful Dead’s front man and is sure to delight blues fans and deadheads alike.

At an early age, Pigpen taught himself the harmonica, keyboards, and guitar, developing what would become a ground breaking and unique talent that would change rock music forever. Bringing the blues to a young new audience, Pigpen was heavily influenced by the styles and sounds of the friends he collected along the way: Muddy Waters, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Vince Guaraldi, Big Mama Thornton, John Lee Hooker and many others. He also became the front man for one of the most popular, controversial, and prolific bands of all time... the Grateful Dead.

On the heels of their first film, “The Encore of Tony Duran,” a Fred Sayeg Film, Fraser and Sainz consider this project a labor of love. Fraser developed the original story for “Tony Duran” and served as Co-Producer. Sainz was project coordinator, Director of Publicity and Media Relations. The film received awards at each festival it entered including the Jury Award/Best Feature Film at the Las Vegas International Film Festival, and Best Feature Film at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, among others.

A longtime Grateful Dead fan, Fraser started seeing shows in the mid-seventies at the Winterland in San Francisco. Like many “next generation” Deadheads, he was intrigued by the folklore from the “Good Ole Grateful Dead” days with Pigpen. Fascinated by the edge and rebellion Pigpen brought to the Grateful Dead’s music, look, and spirit, the filmmaker strove to find out more about the man. What he uncovered was the story of a short but incredible life. Pigpen was a man full of heart, love, and laughter, a beautiful soul uninterested in racial or class divides, the trappings of fame, or in living anyone else’s idea of a conventional life. He always valued the chance to play for a few close friends over fame and celebrity.

“The world of the Grateful Dead continues to be huge,” Sainz says. “It’s still a strong international community of creative fans and loyal followers. Pigpen was part of the big picture, but met an early and untimely death at the age of 27. We are still in the development stages of this project, but the response, support, and feedback has been overwhelming. With the story transforming into what will entertain and illuminate music fans everywhere, the film will honor a talent that remains forever in the hearts of many – and is unknown to many more.”

Although Fraser and Sainz have someone in mind that they think would cast as a “Perfect Pigpen”, all possibility are endless. They will eventually open casting on social media sites allowing friends, fans, and musicians to send in videos of the “Perfect Pigpen”, someone that has the talent, the looks and can play the blues. “By involving the fans to vote on entries, helps to develop ‘their film,’" Fraser says. “Social media will give the opportunity to someone we may otherwise not know of, it will add a new dimension to casting, and will be exciting for all!”

Currently Pigpen… a blues singer is raising funds to help with the start-up expenses on http://www.indiegogo.com/pigpenblues with donation amounts available as low as $10.00 giving special thanks on their Facebook and Twitter pages to donation amounts giving someone an Executive Producer Credit.

"Pigpen's life and music was developed in a communal spirit, it is our aim to make this film in the the same way."

For more information on Pigpen…a blues singer, please email: info(at)distantviewent(dot)com, http://www.pigpenblues.com,

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Diana Sainz and Terry Allen Fraser
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