The very best of the Grateful Dead + e-book for 19.99 GBP
This record attempts to achieve the impossible… How do you condense the essence of the Grateful Dead performing live onto a single disc? Two thousand five hundred unique concerts each one featuring three hours of brilliant music – and only fifty minutes of vinyl to tell the story!
If you are new to the Dead, we humbly offer this introduction to the most amazing live band in history. For old Deadheads everywhere, we hope you enjoy hearing so many old friends gathered together in one compact corner of the universe – and a guest appearance by Clarence Clemens too!… Keep on truckin’. Includes free e-book: Into the Dark
Side One - Touch of Grey, Dire Hold, Ship of Fools, Truckin'
Side Two - Deal, Hell in a basked, Box of rain, Brokedown Palace.
Tracks 1 & 2 – Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA, 21 June 1989
Track 3 – Rich Stadium, Orchard Park, NY, 16 July 1990
Track 4 – World Music Theatre, Tinley Park, IL, 23 July 1990
Tracks 1 & 2 – Live at The Oakland Stadium, 24 July 1987
Tracks 3 & 4 – Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA, 21 June 1989
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and psychedelic rock; for live performances of lengthy instrumental jams; and for its 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 has 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.
After the death of Garcia in 1995, former members of the band, along with other musicians, toured as the Other Ones in 1998, 2000, and 2002, and the Dead in 2003, 2004, and 2009. In 2015, the four surviving core members marked the band's 50th anniversary in a series of concerts that were billed as their last performances together. There have also been several spin-offs featuring one or more core members, such as Dead & Company, Furthur, the Rhythm Devils, Phil Lesh and Friends, RatDog, and Billy & the Kids.
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 Parlor located at 639 Santa Cruz Avenue in suburban Menlo Park, on May 5, 1965, now a Harvest furniture store. They continued playing bar shows, like Frenchy's Bikini-A-Go-Go in Hayward and, importantly, five sets a night, five nights a week, for six weeks, at the In Room in Belmont as the Warlocks, but quickly changed the band's name after finding out that a different band called The Warlocks had put out a record under the same name. (The Velvet Underground also had to change their name from the Warlocks.) The first show under the name Grateful Dead was in San Jose 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, a three-day psychedelic rock weekend party/event produced by Ken Kesey, Stewart Brand, and Ramon Sender, that, in conjunction with the Merry Pranksters, brought together the nascent hippie movement for the first time.
The name "Grateful Dead" was chosen from a dictionary. According to Phil Lesh, "Jerry 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 from a variety of cultures.
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 (Los Angeles) 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.
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 performed on bass guitar. Bob Weir, the youngest original member of the group, played rhythm guitar. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan played keyboards, percussion, 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 City 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, except 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 took time off from the Grateful Dead beginning in February 1971, owing to his father, an accountant, having absconded with the band's money, 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, to help Pigpen keep up with an increasingly psychedelic sound, while Pigpen transitioned more into playing various percussion instruments and sang.
After Constanten's departure, Pigpen reclaimed his position as sole keyboardist. 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 on March 8, 1973 of complications from liver damage.
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, From the Mars Hotel. Not long after that album's release however, the Dead decided to take a hiatus from live touring. Before embarking on the hiatus, the band performed a series of five concerts at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco in October 1974. The concerts were filmed, and Garcia compiled the footage into The Grateful Dead Movie, a feature-length concert film that would be released in 1977.
In September 1975, the Dead released their eighth studio album, Blues for Allah. They resumed touring in June 1976. That same year, they signed with Arista Records. Their new contract soon produced Terrapin Station in 1977. The band's tour in the spring of that year is held in high regard by their fans, and their concert of May 8 at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York is often considered to be one of the best performances of their career.
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 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.
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 beginning to curtail his opiate usage in 1985 gradually, Garcia slipped into a diabetic coma for several days in July 1986. After he recovered, the band released In the Dark in July 1987, which became their bestselling studio album and produced their only top-10 single, "Touch of Grey". Also, that year, the group toured with Bob Dylan, as heard on the album Dylan & the Dead.
Mydland died after the summer tour in 1990 and Vince Welnick, former keyboardist for the Tubes, joined as a band member, while Bruce Hornsby, who had a successful career with his band the Range, joined as a touring member. Both performed on keyboards and vocals—Welnick until the band's end, and Hornsby mainly from 1990 to 1992. The Grateful Dead performed their final concert on July 9, 1995 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Jerry Garcia died on August 9, 1995. A few months after Garcia's death, the remaining members of the Grateful Dead decided to disband. Since that time, there have been a number of reunions by the surviving members involving various combinations of musicians. Additionally, the former members have also begun or continued individual projects.
In 1998, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Mickey Hart, along with several other musicians, formed a band called the Other Ones, and performed a number of concerts that year, releasing a live album, The Strange Remain, the following year. In 2000, the Other Ones toured again, this time with Kreutzmann but without Lesh. After taking another year off, the band toured again in 2002 with Lesh. That year, the Other Ones then included all four living former Grateful Dead members who had been in the band for most or all of its history. At different times the shifting lineup of the Other Ones also included guitarists Mark Karan, Steve Kimock, and Jimmy Herring, keyboardists Bruce Hornsby, Jeff Chimenti, and Rob Barraco, saxophonist Dave Ellis, drummer John Molo, bassist Alphonso Johnson, and vocalist Susan Tedeschi.
In 2003, the Other Ones, still including Weir, Lesh, Hart, and Kreutzmann, changed their name to the Dead. The Dead toured the United States in 2003, 2004 and 2009. The band's lineups included Jimmy Herring and Warren Haynes on guitar, Jeff Chimenti and Rob Barraco on keyboards, and Joan Osborne on vocals. In 2008, members of the Dead played two concerts, called "Deadheads for Obama" and "Change Rocks".
Following the 2009 Dead tour, Lesh and Weir formed the band Furthur, which debuted in September 2009. Joining Lesh and Weir in Furthur were John Kadlecik (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), Joe Russo (drums), Jay Lane (drums), Sunshine Becker (vocals), and Zoe Ellis (vocals). Lane and Ellis left the band in 2010, and vocalist Jeff Pehrson joined later that year. Furthur disbanded in 2014.
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 music careers. Both Bob Weir & RatDog and Phil Lesh and Friends have performed many concerts and released several albums. Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann have also each released a few albums. Hart has toured with his world music percussion ensemble Planet Drum as well as the Mickey Hart Band. Kreutzmann has led several different bands, including BK3, 7 Walkers (with Papa Mali), and Billy & the Kids. 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.
In October 2014, it was announced that Martin Scorsese would produce a documentary film about the Grateful Dead, to be directed by Amir Bar-Lev. David Lemieux supervised the musical selection, and Weir, Hart, Kreutzmann, and Lesh agreed to new interviews for the film. Bar-Lev's four-hour documentary, titled Long Strange Trip, was released in 2017.
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. I couldn't think of anything else more worth doing." Former folk-scene star Bob Dylan had recently put out a couple of records featuring electric instrumentation. 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. Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir (each of whom had been immersed in the American folk music revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s), were open-minded to electric guitars.
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. They did not 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, melded several of them. 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 an improvisational approach to music, were different from most touring bands. While rock and roll bands often rehearse a standard set, played with minor variations, the Grateful Dead did not prepare in this way. 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 approach throughout their career. 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 the band in-form, 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. With their rootsy, eclectic stylings, particularly evident on the latter two albums, the band pioneered the hybrid Americana genre.
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 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 dimension to the band's sound that became an important part of its 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. In a retrospective, The New Yorker described Hunter's verses as "elliptical, by turns vivid and gnomic", which were often "hippie poetry about roses and bells and dew", and critic Robert Christgau described them as "American myths" that later gave way to "the old karma-go-round".
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. Around concert venues, an impromptu communal marketplace known as 'Shakedown Street' was created by Deadheads to serve as centres of activity where fans could buy and sell anything from grilled cheese sandwiches to home-made t-shirts and recordings of Grateful Dead concerts.
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. It has been said that the band performed "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, the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the Festival Express train tour across Canada in 1970. They were scheduled to appear as the final act at the infamous Altamont Free Concert on December 6, 1969 after the Rolling Stones but withdrew after security concerns. "That's the way things went at Altamont—so badly that the Grateful Dead, prime organizers and movers of the festival, didn't even get to play", staff at Rolling Stone magazine wrote in a detailed narrative on the event.
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. 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. The band has released four concert videos under the name View from the Vault.
In the 1990s, the Grateful Dead earned a total of $285 million in revenue from their concert tours, the second-highest during the 1990s, with the Rolling Stones earning the most. This figure is representative of tour revenue through 1995, as touring stopped after the death of Jerry Garcia. In a 1991 PBS documentary, segment host Buck Henry attended an August 1991 concert at Shoreline Amphitheatre and gleaned some information from some band members about the Grateful Dead phenomenon and its success. At the time, Jerry Garcia stated, "We didn't really invent the Grateful Dead, the crowd invented the Grateful Dead, you know what I mean? We were sort of standing in line, and uh, it's gone way past our expectations, way past, so it's, we've been going along with it to see what it's gonna do next." Furthermore, Mickey Hart stated, "This is one of the last places in America that you can really have this kind of fun, you know, considering the political climate and so forth." Hart also stated that "the transformative power of the Grateful Dead is really the essence of it; it's what it can do to your consciousness. We're more into transportation than we are into music, per se, I mean, the business of the Grateful Dead is transportation." One of the band's largest concerts took place just months before Garcia's death — at their outdoor show with Bob Dylan in Highgate, Vermont on June 15, 1995. The crowd was estimated to be over 90,000; overnight camping was allowed and about a third of the audience got in without having purchased a ticket.
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 improvisations, having been described as having never played the same song the same way twice. Their concert sets often blended songs, one into the next, often for more than three songs at a time.
The skull and roses design was composed by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, who added lettering and colour, 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. 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 (1971). The album is sometimes referred to as Skull and Roses.