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Grateful Dead

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Biography All Music GuideWikipedia

Group Members: Mickey Hart / Planet Drum, Mickey Hart, Mickey Hart / Airto / Flora Purim, Mickey Hart, Henry Wolff & Nancy Hennings, Mickey Hart & Planet Drum, Keith Godchaux, Jerry Garcia And David Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Donna Jean & The Tricksters, Donna Godchaux, David Grisman, Jerry Garcia And Tony Rice

All Music Guide:

Rock's longest, strangest trip, the Grateful Dead were the psychedelic era's most beloved musical ambassadors as well as its most enduring survivors, spreading their message of peace, love, and mind-expansion across the globe throughout the better part of three decades. The object of adoration for popular music's most fervent and celebrated fan following -- the Deadheads, their numbers and devotion legendary in their own right -- they were the ultimate cult band, creating a self-styled universe all their own; for the better part of their career orbiting well outside of the mainstream, the Dead became superstars solely on their own terms, tie-dyed pied pipers whose epic, free-form live shows were rites of passage for an extended family of listeners who knew no cultural boundaries.

The roots of the Grateful Dead lie with singer/songwriter Jerry Garcia, a longtime bluegrass enthusiast who began playing the guitar at age 15. Upon relocating to Palo Alto, CA, in 1960, he soon befriended Robert Hunter, whose lyrics later graced many of Garcia's most famous melodies; in time, he also came into contact with aspiring electronic music composer Phil Lesh. By 1962, Garcia was playing banjo in a variety of local folk and bluegrass outfits, two years later forming Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions with guitarist Bob Weir and keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan; in 1965, the group was renamed the Warlocks, their lineup now additionally including Lesh on bass as well as Bill Kreutzmann on drums.

The Warlocks made their electric debut that July; Ken Kesey soon tapped them to become the house band at his notorious Acid Tests, a series of now-legendary public LSD parties and multimedia "happenings" mounted prior to the drug's criminalization. As 1965 drew to its close, the Warlocks rechristened themselves the Grateful Dead, the name taken from a folk tale discovered in a dictionary by Garcia; bankrolled by chemist/LSD manufacturer Owsley Stanley, the band members soon moved into a communal house situated at 710 Ashbury Street in San Francisco, becoming a fixture on the local music scene and building a large fan base on the strength of their many free concerts. Signing to MGM, in 1966 the Dead also recorded their first demos; the sessions proved disastrous, and the label dropped the group a short time later.

As 1967 mutated into the Summer of Love, the Dead emerged as one of the top draws on the Bay Area music scene, honing an eclectic repertoire influenced by folk, country, and the blues while regularly appearing at top local venues including the Fillmore Auditorium, the Avalon Ballroom, and the Carousel. In March of 1967 the Dead issued their self-titled Warner Bros. debut LP, a disappointing effort which failed to recapture the cosmic sprawl of their live appearances; after performing at the Monterey Pop Festival, the group expanded to a six-piece with the addition of second drummer Mickey Hart. Their follow-up, 1968's Anthem of the Sun, fared better in documenting the free-form jam aesthetic of their concerts, but after completing 1969's Aoxomoxoa, their penchant for time-consuming studio experimentation left them over 100,000 dollars in debt to the label.

The Dead's response to the situation was to bow to the demands of fans and record their first live album, 1969's Live/Dead; highlighted by a rendition of Garcia's "Dark Star" clocking in at over 23 minutes, the LP succeeded where its studio predecessors failed in capturing the true essence of the group in all of their improvisational, psychedelicized glory. It was followed by a pair of classic 1970 studio efforts, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty; recorded in homage to the group's country and folk roots, the two albums remained the cornerstone of the Dead's live repertoire for years to follow, with its most popular songs -- "Uncle John's Band," "Casey Jones," "Sugar Magnolia," and "Truckin'" among them -- becoming major favorites on FM radio.

Despite increasing radio airplay and respectable album sales, the Dead remained first and foremost a live act, and as their popularity grew across the world they expanded their touring schedule, taking to the road for much of each year. As more and more of their psychedelic-era contemporaries ceased to exist, the group continued attracting greater numbers of fans to their shows, many of them following the Dead across the country; dubbed "Deadheads," these fans became notorious for their adherence to tie-dyed fashions and excessive drug use, their traveling circus ultimately becoming as much the focal point of concert dates as the music itself. Shows were also extensively bootlegged, and not surprisingly the Dead closed out their Warners contract with back-to-back concert LPs -- a 1971 eponymous effort and 1972's Europe '72.

The latter release was the final Dead album to feature Pigpen McKernan, a heavy drinker who died of liver failure on March 8, 1973; his replacement was keyboardist Keith Godchaux, who brought with him wife Donna Jean to sing backing vocals. 1973's Wake of the Flood was the first release on the new Grateful Dead Records imprint; around the time of its follow-up, 1974's Grateful Dead From the Mars Hotel, the group took a hiatus from the road to allow its members the opportunity to pursue solo projects. After returning to the live arena with a 1976 tour, the Dead signed to Arista to release Terrapin Station, the first in a series of misguided studio efforts that culminated in 1980's Go to Heaven, widely considered the weakest record in the group's catalog -- so weak, in fact, that they did not re-enter the studio for another seven years.

The early '80s was a time of considerable upheaval for the Dead -- the Godchauxs had been dismissed from the lineup in 1979, with Keith dying in a car crash on July 23, 1980. (His replacement was keyboardist Brent Mydland.) After a pair of 1981 live LPs, Reckoning and Dead Set, the group released no new recordings until 1987, focusing instead on their touring schedule -- despite the dearth of new releases, the Dead continued selling out live dates, now playing to audiences which spanned generations. As much a cottage industry as a band, they traveled not only with an enormous road crew but also dozens of friends and family members, many of them Dead staffers complete with health insurance and other benefits.

Still, the Dead were widely regarded as little more than an enduring cult phenomenon prior to the release of 1987's In the Dark; their first studio LP since Go to Heaven, it became the year's most unlikely hit when the single "Touch of Grey" became the first-ever Dead track to reach the Top Ten on the pop charts. Suddenly their videos were in regular rotation on MTV, and virtually overnight the ranks of the Deadheads grew exponentially, with countless new fans flocking to the group's shows. Not only did concert tickets become increasingly tough to come by for longtime followers, but there were also more serious repercussions -- the influx of new fans shifted the crowd dynamic considerably, and once-mellow audiences became infamous not only for their excessive drug habits but also for their violent encounters with police.

Other troubles plagued the Dead as well: in July 1986, Garcia -- a year removed from a drug treatment program -- lapsed into near-fatal diabetic coma brought on by his continued substance abuse problems, regaining consciousness five days later. His health remained an issue in the years which followed, but the Dead spent more time on tour than ever, with a series of dates with Bob Dylan yielding the live album Dylan & the Dead. Their final studio effort, Built to Last, followed in 1989. Tragedy struck in October of that year when a fan died after breaking his neck outside of a show at the New Jersey Meadowlands; two months later, a 19-year-old fan on LSD also died while in police custody at the Los Angeles Forum.

As ever, the Dead themselves were also not immune to tragedy -- on July 26, 1990, Mydland suffered a fatal drug overdose, the third keyboardist in group history to perish; he was replaced not only by ex-Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick but also by satellite member Bruce Hornsby, a longtime fan who frequently toured with the group. In the autumn of 1992 Garcia was again hospitalized with diabetes and an enlarged heart, forcing the Dead to postpone their upcoming tour until the year's end; he eventually returned to action looking more fit than he had in years. Still, few were surprised when it was announced on August 9, 1995, that Garcia had been found dead in his room at a substance abuse treatment facility in Forest Knolls, CA; the 53 year old's death was attributed to a heart attack.

While Garcia's death spelled the end of the Dead as a continuing creative entity, the story was far from over. As the surviving members disbanded to plot their next move, the band's merchandising arm went into overdrive -- in addition to Dick's Picks, a series of archival releases of classic live material, licensed products ranging from Dead T-shirts to sporting goods to toys flooded the market. Plans were also announced to build Terrapin Station, an interactive museum site. In 1996, Weir and Hart mounted the first Furthur Festival, a summer tour headlined by their respective bands RatDog and Mystery Box; in 1998, they also reunited with Lesh and Hornsby to tour as the Other Ones. In spirit if not in name, the Grateful Dead's trip continued on.

Wikipedia:

Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long musical improvisation. "Their music," writes Lenny Kaye, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists." These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world". They were ranked 57th in the issue The Greatest Artists of all Time by Rolling Stone magazine. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University (May 8, 1977) was added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry. The Grateful Dead has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.

The founding members of the Grateful Dead were Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums). Members of the Grateful Dead had played together in various San Francisco bands, including Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions and The Warlocks. Lesh was the last member to join the Warlocks before they became the Grateful Dead; he replaced Dana Morgan Jr., who had played bass for a few gigs. With the exception of McKernan, who died in 1973, the core of the band stayed together for its entire 30-year history. Other longtime members of the band include Mickey Hart (drums 1967–1971, 1974–1995), Keith Godchaux (keyboards 1971–1979), Donna Godchaux (vocals 1972–1979), Brent Mydland (keyboards 1979–1990), and Vince Welnick (keyboards 1990–1995).

The fans of the Grateful Dead, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, are known as "Deadheads" and are known for their dedication to the band's music. The band and its following (Deadheads) are closely associated with the hippie movement and were seen as a form of institution in the culture of America for many years. Former members of the Grateful Dead, along with other musicians, toured as The Dead in 2003, 2004, and 2009 after touring as The Other Ones in 1998, 2000, and 2002. There are many contemporary incarnations of the Dead, with the most prominent touring acts being Furthur and Phil Lesh & Friends.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Formation (1965–1966)[edit]

Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia were brought together by Gert Chiarito in 1964 to perform on The Midnight Special, her Saturday night radio program on KPFA, Berkeley.

The Grateful Dead began their career as the Warlocks, a group formed in early 1965 from the remnants of a Palo Alto, California jug band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. The band's first show was at Magoo's Pizza located at 639 Santa Cruz Avenue in suburban Menlo Park, California on May 5, 1965. They were known as the Warlocks although at the same time the Velvet Underground was also using that name on the east coast. The show was not recorded and not even the set list has been preserved. The band quickly changed its name after finding out that another band of the same name had signed a recording contract (not the Velvet Underground who by then had also changed their name). The first show under the new name Grateful Dead was in San Jose, California on December 4, 1965, at one of Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. Earlier demo tapes have survived, but the first of over 2,000 concerts known to have been recorded by the band's fans was a show at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco on January 8, 1966. Later that month, the Grateful Dead played at the Trips Festival, an early psychedelic rock show.

The name "Grateful Dead" was chosen from a dictionary. According to Phil Lesh, in his autobiography (pp. 62), "... [Jerry Garcia] picked up an old Britannica World Language Dictionary...[and]...In that silvery elf-voice he said to me, 'Hey, man, how about the Grateful Dead?'" The definition there was "the soul of a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial." According to Alan Trist, director of the Grateful Dead's music publisher company Ice Nine, Garcia found the name in the Funk & Wagnalls Folklore Dictionary, when his finger landed on that phrase while playing a game of Fictionary. In the Garcia biography, Captain Trips, author Sandy Troy states that the band was smoking the psychedelic DMT at the time. The term "grateful dead" appears in folktales of a variety of cultures. In mid-1969, Phil Lesh told another version of the story to Carol Maw, a young Texan visiting with the band in Marin County who also ended up going on the road with them to the Fillmore East and Woodstock. In this version, Phil said, "Jerry found the name spontaneously when he picked up a dictionary and the pages fell open. The words 'grateful' and 'dead' appeared straight opposite each other across the crack between the pages in unrelated text."

Other supporting personnel who signed on early included Rock Scully, who heard of the band from Kesey and signed on as manager after meeting them at the Big Beat Acid Test; Stewart Brand, "with his side show of taped music and slides of Indian life, a multimedia presentation" at the Big Beat and then, expanded, at the Trips Festival; and Owsley Stanley, the "Acid King" whose LSD supplied the tests and who, in early 1966, became the band's financial backer, renting them a house on the fringes of Watts and buying them sound equipment. "We were living solely off of Owsley's good graces at that time.... [His] trip was he wanted to design equipment for us, and we were going to have to be in sort of a lab situation for him to do it," said Garcia.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Main career (1967–1995)[edit]

One of the group's earliest major performances in 1967 was the Mantra-Rock Dance—a musical event held on January 29, 1967, at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple. The Grateful Dead performed at the event along with the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, poet Allen Ginsberg, bands Moby Grape and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, donating proceeds to the Krishna temple. The band's first LP, The Grateful Dead, was released on Warner Brothers in 1967.

Classically trained trumpeter Phil Lesh played bass guitar. Bob Weir, the youngest original member of the group, played rhythm guitar. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan played keyboards and harmonica until shortly before his death in 1973 at the age of 27. Garcia, Weir and McKernan shared the lead vocal duties more or less equally; Lesh only sang a few leads but his tenor was a key part of the band's three-part vocal harmonies. Bill Kreutzmann played drums, and in September 1967 was joined by a second drummer, New York native Mickey Hart, who also played a wide variety of other percussion instruments.

1970 included tour dates in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the band performed at The Warehouse for two nights. On January 31, 1970, the local police raided their hotel on Bourbon Street, and arrested and charged a total of 19 people with possession of various drugs. The second night's concert was performed as scheduled after bail was posted. Eventually the charges were dismissed, with the exception of those against sound engineer Owsley Stanley, who was already facing charges in California for manufacturing LSD. This event was later memorialized in the lyrics of the song "Truckin'", a single from American Beauty which reached number 64 on the charts.

Mickey Hart quit the Grateful Dead in February 1971, leaving Kreutzmann once again as the sole percussionist. Hart rejoined the Grateful Dead for good in October 1974. Tom "TC" Constanten was added as a second keyboardist from 1968 to 1970, while Pigpen also played various percussion instruments and sang.

After Constanten's departure, Pigpen reclaimed his position as sole organist. Less than two years later, in late 1971, Pigpen was joined by another keyboardist, Keith Godchaux, who played grand piano alongside Pigpen's Hammond B-3 organ. In early 1972, Keith's wife, Donna Jean Godchaux, joined the Grateful Dead as a backing vocalist.

Following the Grateful Dead's "Europe '72" tour, Pigpen's health had deteriorated to the point that he could no longer tour with the band. His final concert appearance was June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles; he died in March, 1973 of complications from alcohol abuse.

The death of Pigpen did not slow the band down, and they continued with their new members. They soon formed their own record group, Grateful Dead Records. Later that year, they released their next studio album, the jazz influenced Wake of the Flood. It became their biggest commercial success thus far. Meanwhile, capitalizing on Flood’s success, the band soon went back to the studio, and the next year, 1974, released another album, Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel. Not long after that album’s release however, the Grateful Dead decided to take a hiatus from live touring.

In September of 1975 the Dead released their eighth studio album, Blues for Allah. Their hiatus was short-lived, though, as they resumed touring in June of 1976. That same year, they re-signed with Arista Records. Their new contract soon produced Terrapin Station in 1977. Although things appeared to be going well for the band, problems were arising with their two newest members, Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux. While touring during the late 1970s the band began to use freebase cocaine. Donna frequently had excessive vocal issues while performing live, and Keith was becoming dependent on hard drugs. Both of those issues were causing complications with the band’s touring, and they agreed to leave the band in February 1979.

Following the departure of the Godchauxs, Brent Mydland joined as keyboardist and vocalist and was considered "the perfect fit". The Godchauxs then formed the Heart of Gold Band before Keith Godchaux died in a car accident in 1980. Mydland was the keyboardist for the Grateful Dead for 11 years until his death by narcotics overdose in July 1990, becoming the third keyboardist to die.

During the 1980s the band transformed as the talents of Mydland helped power the group. Shortly after Mydland found his place in the early 1980s, Garcia's health began to decline. His drug habits caused him to lose his liveliness on stage. After kicking his drug habit in 1985, Garcia slipped into a diabetic coma for several days in July 1986. After he recovered, the band released In the Dark in 1987, which resulted as their best selling studio album release, and also produced their only top-10 chart single, "Touch of Grey". Also that year, the group toured with Bob Dylan, as documented on the album Dylan & the Dead.

Inspired by Garcia's improved health and a successful album, the band's energy and chemistry peaked in the late 1980s and 1990. Performances were vigorous and as a result, every show exceeded its maximum audience capacity. The band's "high time" came to a sudden halt when Mydland died after the summer tour in 1990. The band now had to rebuild. Both Vince Welnick, former keyboardist for The Tubes, and Bruce Hornsby, who had a successful career with his own band The Range, joined the band on keyboards and vocals. Welnick stayed with the band until Garcia's death, but he was never a member of The Other Ones or The Dead. He did, however, play in early incarnations of Ratdog with Bob Weir. Welnick died on June 2, 2006, reportedly a suicide. Hornsby was a member until March 24, 1992, and has participated in various post-Grateful dead projects, notably The Other Ones.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Aftermath (1995 to the present)[edit]

Following Garcia's death in August 1995, the remaining members formally decided to disband. Since that time however, there have been a number of reunions by the surviving members involving various combinations of musicians.

In 1998, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Mickey Hart, along with several other musicians, formed a band called The Other Ones. The Other Ones performed a number of concerts that year, and released a live album, The Strange Remain, the following year. In 2000, The Other Ones toured again, this time with Bill Kreutzmann but without Lesh. After taking another year off, the band was active again in 2002. With Lesh's return for this go-round, The Other Ones then included all four former Grateful Dead members who had been in the band for most or all of its history.

In 2003, The Other Ones changed their name to The Dead. The Dead toured the country in 2003 and 2004. In 2008, members of The Dead played two concerts, called "Deadheads for Obama" and "Change Rocks". In 2009 The Dead performed on a spring tour, and were at the Rothbury Music Festival on July 4, 2009.

Following the 2009 summer reunion tour bandmates Lesh and Weir formed the band Furthur which debuted in September 2009. Joining Lesh and Weir in Furthur are Jeff Chimenti (keyboard), John Kadlecik (guitar), Joe Russo (drums), Sunshine Becker (vocalist), and Jeff Pehrson (vocalist).

In 2010, Hart and Kreutzmann re-formed the Rhythm Devils, and played a summer concert tour.

Since 1995, the former members of the Grateful Dead have also pursued solo musical careers. Bob Weir & RatDog have performed many concerts and released several albums, as have Phil Lesh and Friends. Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann have each led several different bands and have also released some albums. Recently Mickey Hart has been working with his Mickey Hart Band and Kreutzmann has been touring with BK3, and with 7 Walkers, a band he formed with Papa Mali. Donna Godchaux has returned to the music scene, with the Donna Jean Godchaux Band, and Tom Constanten also continues to write and perform music. All of these groups continue to play Grateful Dead music.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Musical style[edit]

The Grateful Dead formed during the era when bands such as The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones were dominating the airwaves. "The Beatles were why we turned from a jug band into a rock 'n' roll band," said Bob Weir. "What we saw them doing was impossibly attractive." Former folk-scene star Bob Dylan had recently put out a couple of records featuring electric instrumentation. "I couldn't think of anything else more worth doing," Garcia said. Grateful Dead members have said that it was after attending a concert by the touring New York City band The Lovin' Spoonful that they decided to "go electric" and look for a dirtier sound. Gradually, many of the East-Coast American folk musicians, formerly luminaries of the coffee-house scene, were moving in the electric direction. It was natural for Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, each of whom had been immersed in the American folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, to be open-minded toward electric guitars. Their first LP (The Grateful Dead, Warner Brothers, 1967), was released in the same year that Pink Floyd released The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The Grateful Dead's early music (in the mid-1960s) was part of the process of establishing what "psychedelic music" was, but theirs was essentially a "street party" form of it. They developed their "psychedelic" playing as a result of meeting Ken Kesey in Palo Alto, California and subsequently becoming the house band for the Acid Tests he staged. The Dead were not inclined to fit their music to an established category such as pop rock, blues, folk rock, or country/western. Individual tunes within their repertoire could be identified under one of these stylistic labels, but overall their music drew on all of these genres and, more frequently, melding several of them. It was doubtless with this in mind that Bill Graham said of the Grateful Dead, "They're not the best at what they do, they're the only ones that do what they do." Often (both in performance and on recording) the Dead left room for exploratory, spacey soundscapes.

Their live shows, fed by their improvisational approach to music, made the Grateful Dead different from most other touring bands. While most rock and roll bands rehearse a standard show for their tours that is replayed night after night, city after city, the Grateful Dead never did. As Garcia stated in a 1966 interview, "We don't make up our sets beforehand. We'd rather work off the tops of our heads than off a piece of paper." They maintained this operating ethic throughout their existence. For each performance, the band drew material from an active list of a hundred or so songs.

The 1969 live album Live/Dead did capture more of their essence, but commercial success did not come until Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, both released in 1970. These records largely featured the band's laid-back acoustic musicianship and more traditional song structures.

As the band and its sound matured over thirty years of touring, playing, and recording, each member's stylistic contribution became more defined, consistent, and identifiable. Lesh, who was originally a classically-trained trumpet player with an extensive background in music theory, did not tend to play traditional blues-based bass forms, but opted for more melodic, symphonic and complex lines, often sounding like a second lead guitar. Weir, too, was not a traditional rhythm guitarist, but tended to play jazz-influenced, unique inversions at the upper end of the Dead's sound. The two drummers, Mickey Hart and Kreutzmann, developed a unique, complex interplay, balancing Kreutzmann's steady beat with Hart's interest in percussion styles outside the rock tradition. Hart incorporated an 11-count measure to his drumming, bringing a new dimension to the band's sound that became an important part of its emerging style. Garcia's lead lines were fluid, supple and spare, owing a great deal of their character to his training in fingerpicking and banjo.

The band's primary lyricists, Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow, commonly used themes involving love and loss, life and death, gambling and murder, beauty and horror, chaos and order, God and other religious themes, travelling and touring, etc. Less frequent ideas include the environment and issues from the world of politics.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Merchandising and representation[edit]

Hal Kant was an entertainment industry attorney who specialized in representing musical groups. He spent 35 years as principal lawyer and general counsel for the Grateful Dead, a position in the group that was so strong that his business cards with the band identified his role as "Czar".

Kant brought the band millions of dollars in revenue through his management of the band's intellectual property and merchandising rights. At Kant's recommendation, the group was one of the few rock 'n roll pioneers to retain ownership of their music masters and publishing rights.

In 2006, the Grateful Dead signed a ten-year licensing agreement with Rhino Entertainment. Rhino is managing the Dead's business interests, including the release of musical recordings, merchandising, and marketing. In 2011 Rhino and Grateful Dead Productions began working with Curious Sense to develop an online and mobile social game built on the band's legacy. The band retains creative control and keeps ownership of the music catalog.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Live performances[edit]

The Grateful Dead toured constantly throughout their career, playing more than 2,300 concerts. They promoted a sense of community among their fans, who became known as Deadheads, many of whom followed their tours for months or years on end. In their early career, the band also dedicated their time and talents to their community, the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco, making available free food, lodging, music and health care to all comers; they were the "first among equals in giving unselfishly of themselves to hippie culture, performing 'more free concerts than any band in the history of music'.

With the exception of 1975, when the band was on hiatus and played only four concerts together, the Grateful Dead performed many concerts every year, from their formation in April, 1965, until July 9, 1995. Initially all their shows were in California, principally in the San Francisco Bay Area and in or near Los Angeles. They also performed, in 1965 and 1966, with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, as the house band for the Acid Tests. They toured nationally starting in June 1967 (their first foray to New York), with a few detours to Canada, Europe and three nights at the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt in 1978. They appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Their first UK performance was at the Hollywood Music Festival in 1970. Their largest concert audience came in 1973 when they played, along with The Allman Brothers Band and The Band, before an estimated 600,000 people at the Summer Jam at Watkins Glen. The 1998 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records recognized them with a listing under the heading, "most rock concerts performed" (2,318 concerts). They played to an estimated total of 25 million people, more than any other band, with audiences of up to 80,000 attending a single show. Many of these concerts were preserved in the band's tape vault, and several dozen have since been released on CD and as downloads. The Dead were known for the tremendous variation in their setlists from night to night—the list of songs documented to have been played by the band exceeds 500.

Their numerous studio albums were generally collections of new songs that they had first played in concert. The band was also famous for its extended musical jams, which featured both individual improvisations as well as distinctive "group-mind" improvisations during which each of the band members improvised individually while simultaneously blending together as a cohesive musical unit. Musically, this may be illustrated in that the band not only improvised within the form of songs, but also with the form. The Grateful Dead have often been described as having never played the same song the same way twice. The cohesive listening abilities of each band member made for a transcendence of what might be called "free form" and improvisation. Their concert sets often blended songs, one into the next (a segue).

Concert sound systems[edit]

The Wall of Sound was an enormous sound system designed specifically for the Grateful Dead. The band was never satisfied with the house system anywhere they played. After the Monterey Pop Festival, the band's crew 'borrowed' some of the other performers' sound equipment and used it to host some free shows in San Francisco. In their early days, soundman Owsley "Bear" Stanley designed a public address (PA) and monitor system for them. Bear was the Grateful Dead's soundman for many years; he was also one of the largest suppliers of LSD. Stanley's sound systems were delicate and finicky, and frequently brought shows to a halt with technical breakdowns. After Stanley went to jail for manufacturing LSD in 1970, the group briefly used house PAs, but found them to be even less reliable than those built by their former soundman. In 1971, the band purchased their first solid-state sound system from Alembic Inc Studios. Because of this, Alembic would play an integral role in the research, development, and production of the Wall of Sound. The band also welcomed Dan Healy into the fold on a permanent basis that year. Healy would mix the Grateful Dead's live sound until 1993.

Tapes[edit]

Like several other bands during this time, the Grateful Dead allowed their fans to record their shows. For many years the tapers set up their microphones wherever they could. The eventual forest of microphones became a problem for the official sound crew. Eventually this was solved by having a dedicated taping section located behind the soundboard, which required a special "tapers" ticket. The band allowed sharing of tapes of their shows, as long as no profits were made on the sale of their show tapes. Sometimes the sound crew would allow the tapers to connect directly to the soundboard, which created exceptional concert recordings. Recently, there have been some disputes over which recordings archive.org could host on their site. Currently, all recordings are hosted, though soundboard recordings are not available for download, but rather in a streaming format. Of the approximately 2,350 shows the Grateful Dead played, almost 2,200 were taped, and most of these are available online. Concert set lists from a subset of 1,590 Grateful Dead shows were used to perform a comparative analysis between how songs were played in concert and how they are listened online by Last.fm members. In their book Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn From the Most Iconic Band in History, David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan identify the taper section as a crucial idea in increasing the Grateful Dead's fan base.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Artwork[edit]

Over the years, a number of iconic images have come to be associated with the Grateful Dead. Many of these images originated as artwork for concert posters or album covers.

Steal Your Face skullPerhaps the best-known Grateful Dead art icon is a red, white, and blue skull with a lightning bolt through it. The lightning bolt skull can be found on the cover of the album Steal Your Face, and the image is sometimes known by that name. It was designed by Owsley Stanley and artist Bob Thomas, and was originally used as a logo to mark the band's equipment.Dancing bearsA series of stylized marching bears was drawn by Bob Thomas as part of the back cover for the album History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear's Choice). Thomas reported that he based the bears on a lead sort from an unknown font. The bear is a reference to Owsley "Bear" Stanley, who recorded and produced the album. Bear himself wrote, "the bears on the album cover are not really 'dancing'. I don't know why people think they are; their positions are quite obviously those of a high-stepping march."Skull and rosesThe skull and roses design was composed by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, who added lettering and color, respectively, to a black and white drawing by Edmund Joseph Sullivan. Sullivan's drawing was an illustration for a 1913 edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Earlier antecedents include the custom of exhibiting the relic skulls of Christian martyrs decorated with roses on their feast days. The rose is an attribute of Saint Valentine who according to one legend was martyred by decapitation. Accordingly, in Rome, at the church dedicated to him, the observance of his feast day included the display of his skull surrounded by roses. This was discontinued in the late 1960s when Valentine was removed from the Roman Catholic canon along with other legendary saints whose lives and deeds could not be confirmed. Kelley and Mouse's design originally appeared on a poster for the September 16 and 17, 1966 Dead shows at the Avalon Ballroom. Later it was used as the cover for the album Grateful Dead. The album is sometimes referred to as Skull and Roses (or Bertha).Dancing terrapinsThe two dancing terrapins first appeared on the cover of the 1977 album Terrapin Station, which was drawn by Kelley and Mouse, but based on a drawing by Heinrich Kley. Since then these turtles have become one of the Grateful Dead's most recognizable logos.Uncle Sam skeletonThe Uncle Sam skeleton was devised by Gary Gutierrez as part of the animation for The Grateful Dead Movie. The image combines the Grateful Dead skeleton motif with the character of Uncle Sam, a reference to the then-recently written song "U.S. Blues", which the Dead are seen performing near the beginning of the film.JesterAnother icon of the Dead is a skeleton dressed as a jester and holding a lute. This image was an airbrush painting done by Stanley Mouse in 1972. It was originally used for the cover of The Grateful Dead Songbook.

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Deadheads[edit]

Fans and enthusiasts of the band are commonly referred to as Dead Heads. While the origin of the term may be unclear, Dead Heads were made canon by the notice placed inside the Skull and Roses album by manager Jon McIntire:

"DEAD FREAKS UNITE

Who are you?      Where are you? How are you? send us your name and address and we'll keep you informed Dead Heads

PO Box 1065, San Rafael, California 94901."

Many of the Dead Heads would go on tour with the band. As a group, the Dead Heads were considered very mellow. "I'd rather work nine Grateful Dead concerts than one Oregon football game," Police Det. Rick Raynor said. "They don't get belligerent like they do at the games."Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Donation of archives[edit]

On April 24, 2008, members Bob Weir and Mickey Hart, along with Nion McEvoy, CEO of Chronicle Books, UC Santa Cruz chancellor George Blumenthal, and UC Santa Cruz librarian Virginia Steel, held a press conference announcing that UCSC's McHenry Library would be the permanent home of the Grateful Dead's complete archival history from 1965 up to the present. The archive includes correspondence, photographs, fliers, posters, and several other forms of memorabilia and records of the band. Also included are unreleased videos of interviews and TV appearances that will be installed for visitors to view, as well as stage backdrops and other props from the band's concerts.

Blumenthal stated at the event, "The Grateful Dead Archive represents one of the most significant popular cultural collections of the 20th century; UC Santa Cruz is honored to receive this invaluable gift. The Grateful Dead and UC Santa Cruz are both highly innovative institutions—born the same year—that continue to make a major, positive impact on the world." Guitarist Bob Weir stated, "We looked around, and UC Santa Cruz seems the best possible home. If you ever wrote the Grateful Dead a letter, you'll probably find it there!"

Professor of music Fredric Lieberman was the key contact between the band and the university, who let the university know about the search for a home for the archive, and who had collaborated with Mickey Hart on three books in the past, Planet Drum (1990), Drumming at the Edge of Magic (1991), and Spirit into Sound (2006).

The first large-scale exhibition of materials from the Grateful Dead Archive was mounted at the New-York Historical Society in 2010.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Membership[edit]

Lead guitarist Jerry Garcia was often seen both by the public and the media as the leader or primary spokesperson for the Grateful Dead, but was reluctant to be perceived that way, especially since he and the other group members saw themselves as equal participants and contributors to their collective musical and creative output. Garcia, a native of San Francisco, grew up in the Excelsior District. One of his main influences was bluegrass music, and Garcia also performed—on banjo, one of his other great instrumental loves, along with the pedal steel guitar—in bluegrass bands, notably Old and in the Way with mandolinist David Grisman.

The singer-songwriter Bruce Hornsby never officially joined the band, because of his other commitments, but he did play keyboards at most Dead shows between September 1990 and March 1992, and sat in with the band over one hundred times in all between 1988 and 1995.

Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow were the band's primary lyricists. Twelve members of The Grateful Dead (the eleven official performing members plus Robert Hunter) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994, and Bruce Hornsby was their presenter.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Band lineups[edit]

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Timeline[edit]

Awards[edit]

In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Grateful Dead No. 57 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

On February 10, 2007, the Grateful Dead received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was accepted on behalf of the band by Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.

It was announced on May 23, 2011, that the Dead's Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University (May 8, 1977) would be preserved in the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

Video game[edit]

A Grateful Dead video game titled Grateful Dead Game – The Epic Tour, was released in April 2012 and was created by Curious Sense.Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).

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