By Karen Holzmeister

CASTRO VALLEY — Steve Williams resembles an aging hippie with his tousled silver curls, arched black eyebrows, bushy white beard and tie-dyed T-shirt.

But, not just any aging hippie.

Williams, 58, qualifies for a ''separated at birth'' resemblance to singer, songwriter and guitarist Jerry Garcia.

On Aug. 1, the day the Grateful Dead co-founder would have turned 66, Williams, of Castro Valley, won a Garcia look-a-like contest sponsored by radio station KFOG. The late musician died 13 years ago today.

''I'm not trying to look like Jerry Garcia, it's just how I look,'' Williams, a Cal State East Bay education professor, said.

Earlier this year, Williams returned to his hometown of Hutchinson, Kan., for his 40th high school reunion.

''So many (classmates) said I looked like Jerry,'' he recalled. ''They said they didn't recognize me."

Williams began wearing his hair longer while attending the University of Kansas and has had a beard for 30 years.

''Most people started to notice when we moved to the Bay Area (in 1990),'' Williams explained. ''I started graying just as Jerry was graying, too.''

Williams doesn't sing, ''or at least not very well,'' he said. Williams also doesn't play the guitar, Garcia's signature instrument, although he does eat ''Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia'' ice cream — named in the late musician's honor — once in a while.


And, while Williams owns Grateful Dead CDs and iTunes downloads, he doesn't consider himself a Deadhead. Deadheads, faithful Grateful Dead fans, followed the band from concert to concert during its heyday of 1965 to 1995.

Even though the Grateful Dead appeared for many years at a Eugene, Ore., summer festival — where Williams and his family lived before moving to the Bay Area — Williams never attended one of the band's concerts, he said.

He also missed last weekend's annual concert and tribute to Garcia at the Jerry Garcia Amphitheater at San Francisco's McLaren Park.

Williams was helping another band — which plays popular tunes of other eras — set up for a dance at the Hayward Area Senior Center, where he is a part-time staffer.

His favorite celebrity look-a-like moment?

''I was at Pier 39 (in San Francisco) when these street people — who were inebriated, to put it mildly — looked at me and said, 'Oh, man, you've got to go see yourself at the wax museum,' '' Williams said, grinning. ''So, I turned around and went to the museum and there was a statue of Jerry in the lobby.''

Reach Karen Holzmeister at 510-293-2478 or