Casey Jones was a real person. He was a railroad engineer who was killed when his train collided with another train. Several songs are based on his life and death.
“The Ballad of Casey Jones” is the best-known song inspired by him. It was written about 1909
“Casey Jones” by the Grateful Dead was released in 1970. It’s not faithful to the actual events. This is my favorite Grateful Dead song. It’s concise (which many of their songs weren’t). It looks to the past (old country blues songs which influential on the band.) It looks to the present with the cocaine references. It’s old and modern at the same time.
Warren Zevon and David Lindley covered the Grateful Dead version.