Portal:Grateful Dead
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Portal:Grateful Dead

Introduction

The Grateful Dead in 1970, from a promotional photo shoot. Left to right: Bill Kreutzmann, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh.

The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. Ranging from quintet to septet, the band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, country, bluegrass, blues, gospel, modal jazz, reggae, experimental music, psychedelia, and space rock, for live performances of lengthy instrumental jams, and for their devoted fan base, known as "Deadheads". "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". The band was ranked 57th by Rolling Stone magazine in its The Greatest Artists of All Time issue. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and a recording of their May 8, 1977, performance at Cornell University's Barton Hall was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2012. The Grateful Dead have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.

The Grateful Dead was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area amid the rise of the counterculture of the 1960s. The founding members were Jerry Garcia (lead guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (rhythm 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. Drummer Mickey Hart and non-performing lyricist Robert Hunter joined in 1967. With the exception of McKernan, who died in 1973, and Hart, who took time off from 1971 to 1974, the core of the band stayed together for its entire 30-year history. The other official members of the band are Tom Constanten (keyboards; 1968-1970), John Perry Barlow (nonperforming lyricist; 1971-1995), Keith Godchaux (keyboards; 1971-1979), Donna Godchaux (vocals; 1972-1979), Brent Mydland (keyboards, vocals; 1979-1990), and Vince Welnick (keyboards, vocals; 1990-1995). Bruce Hornsby (accordion, piano, vocals) was a touring member from 1990 to 1992, as well as a guest with the band on occasion before and after the tours.

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Selected album

Europe '72 is a 1972 live triple album of performances by the Grateful Dead, recorded during their tour of Western Europe in early 1972. This was the third live double or triple album in the Dead's past five releases, revealing how the group's reputation rested on their live performances. Indeed, the liner notes simply stated: "There is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert." The album contained considerable new material in addition to versions of tracks found on previous studio albums.

The tour represented by this album was Ron "Pigpen" McKernan's last with the Dead before he died in 1973, and the last album he would feature on as an active member. It was the first album to feature Keith Godchaux and his wife Donna Jean Godchaux. Originally a triple album on vinyl, Europe '72 was later reissued as a two-disc CD in 1990 and again in 2001 with bonus tracks as part of the band's box set, The Golden Road (1965-1973).

Selected song

Born Cross-Eyed is an original composition by the San Francisco, CA Psychedelic rock group the Grateful Dead. It was written by rhythm guitarist Bob Weir during the band's sessions creating the album Anthem of the Sun, produced by David Hassinger, in 1968. It was released as a B-side with the single Dark Star, one of the band's most well-known musical excursions.

The single was first released in April 1968 by Warner Bros. Records and is a different mix than the version included on the Anthem of the Sun album. The single was re-released in the UK in 1977 as a promotion distributed with the Dark Star magazine. The single release included lyrics of Dark Star on the back cover as well as a message stating "this record presented exclusively by Dark Star Magazine with the kind cooperation of WEA Records Ltd".

This single version of the song would be later released three times: As part of the compilation album What a Long Strange Trip It's Been by Warner Bros. in 1977. Then as part of the twelve-CD retrospective box set The Golden Road (1965-1973) in 2001, released by Rhino Records (a subsidiary of Warner Bros.). Finally on the 2003 re-release of Anthem of the Sun by Rhino featuring the tracks included in The Golden Road (1965-1973) box set.

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The Wall of Sound was an enormous public address system designed specifically for the Grateful Dead's live performances by audio engineer Owsley "Bear" Stanley. Used in 1974, the Wall of Sound fulfilled the band's desire for a distortion-free sound system that could also serve as its own monitoring system. The Wall of Sound was the largest concert sound system built at that time. As Stanley described it,

"The Wall of Sound is the name some people gave to a super powerful, extremely accurate PA system that I designed and supervised the building of in 1973 for the Grateful Dead. It was a massive wall of speaker arrays set behind the musicians, which they themselves controlled without a front of house mixer. It did not need any delay towers to reach a distance of half a mile from the stage without degradation."

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Selected biography

Mickey Hart at the Web 2.0 Conference in 2005
Mickey Hart (born Michael Steven Hartman; September 11, 1943) is an American percussionist and musicologist. He is best known as one of the two drummers of the rock band the Grateful Dead. Before joining the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart and his father, Leonard Hart, a champion rudimental drummer, owned and operated Hart Music, selling drums and musical instruments in San Carlos, California.

Hart joined the Grateful Dead in September 1967, and left in February 1971. During his sabbatical, in 1972, he recorded the album Rolling Thunder. He returned to the Dead in 1974, and remained with the group until their official dissolution in 1995. Collaboration with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead continues, under the band name The Dead. Alongside his work with the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart has flourished as a solo artist, percussionist, and the author of several books. In these endeavors he has pursued a lifelong interest in ethnomusicology and in world music.

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