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Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco, California. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, country, jazz, psychedelia, space music and gospeland for live performances of long musical improvisation. In particular, the band frequently made use of "long jams"whereby Jerry Garcia would spend lengthy periods engaging in rock lead guitar solos that evoked various "depth moods." Other bands utilized long improvisational jams, but "The Dead" took it to extremes. "Their music," Lenny Kaye wrote, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists."

The Grateful Dead's fans, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, were known as Deadheads and were renowned for their dedication to the band's music. Many followers referred to the band simply as "the Dead".

Their musical influences varied widely, and in concert or on record album one can hear psychedelic rock (in the late sixties), the blues, rock nuggets, country-western, bluegrass, country-rock, and although they rarely played jazz music, the band certainly borrowed for their music the kind of long improvisatory sequences that jazz artists such as Charles Mingus and John Coltrane perfected in the 1950s. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world."

Formation:
The Grateful Dead began their career in Menlo Park, California, playing live shows at Kepler's Books.
They began as The Warlocks, a group formed from the remnants of a Palo Alto jug band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. But as another band was already recording under the "Warlocks" name, the band had to change its name in order to get a recording contract. The Warlocks were originally managed by Hank Harrison, but Harrison went back to graduate school. After meeting their new manager Rock Scully, they moved to the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco. Many bands from this area, such as Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Big Brother & the Holding Company, and Santana, went on to national fame, giving San Francisco an image as a center for the hippie counterculture of the era. (Also see entry for the San Francisco Sound.) Of these bands, the Grateful Dead had members with arguably the highest level of musicianship, including banjo and guitar player Jerry Garcia, bluesman Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, the classically trained Phil Lesh and drummer Bill Kreutzmann. The Grateful Dead most embodied "all the elements of the San Francisco scene and came, therefore, to represent the counterculture to the rest of the country".

Choosing a name:
The name Grateful Dead was chosen from a dictionary. Some claim it was a Funk & Wagnalls, others, the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book Of the Dead), but according to Phil Lesh, in his biography (pp. 62), "...Jer [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 the Garcia biography, Captain Trips by Sandy Troy, the band was smoking the psychedelic DMT at the time.

A new type of sound:
The Grateful Dead formed during the era when bands like The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were dominating the airwaves. 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 "folk-rock" 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 '60s, to be open-minded toward electric guitars. But the new Dead music was also naturally different from bands like Dylan's or the Spoonful, partly because their fellow musician Phil Lesh came out of a schooled classical and electronic-music background, while Pigpen was a no-nonsense deep blues lover and drummer Bill Kreutzmann had a rock and R&B background. Listening to their first LP (The Grateful Dead, Warner Brothers, 1967), one is also reminded that it was recorded only a few years after the big "surfing music" craze; that California rock-music sound seeped in, to some degree, as well.
The cover of the album American Beauty (1970), which is considered to be the Grateful Dead's studio masterpiece. In 2003, the album was ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The cover of the album American Beauty (1970), which is considered to be the Grateful Dead's studio masterpiece.[13] In 2003, the album was ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The Grateful Deads 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. This was natural, because they played psychedelic dances, open-air park events, and closed-street Haight-Ashbury block parties. 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. Often (both in performance and on recording) the Dead left room for exploratory, spacey soundscapes. Most connoisseurs believe that the Grateful Dead's true spirit was rarely well captured in studio performan
The early records reflected the Dead's live repertoirelengthy instrumental jams with group improvisation, best exemplified by "Dark Star"but, lacking the energy of the shows, did not sell well. 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. Garcia's lead lines were fluid, supple and spare, owing a great deal of their character to his training in fingerpicking and banjo.
For the band's primary lyricists, Robert Hunter and Barlow, common themes in their work include those of 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 other issues from the world of politics.
Although he intensely disliked the appellation, Jerry Garcia was the band's de facto musical leader and the source of its identity. Garcia was a charismatic, complex figure, simultaneously writing and playing music of enormous emotional resonance and insight while leading a personal life that often consisted of various forms of self-destructive excess, including well-known drug addictions, obesity, tremendous financial recklessness, and three complex, volatile, often unhappy marriages. What is less well known about Garcia was the fact that he suffered for most of his life from a condition called sleep apnea. His sleep apnea was apparently diagnosed before he died, but it is unlikely that he ever took any steps to treat it. That his case might have been relatively severe may be surmised by the comments of his band mate, Phil Lesh. In Lesh's book, Searching for the Sound, My Life with the Grateful Dead, Lesh relates how he and others were impressed with Garcia's loud and widely fluctuating snoring. Profound snoring is associated with severe sleep apnea.
Garcia's early life was profoundly affected by a series of tragedies. As a small boy, at the age of five, he witnessed his father's death by drowning in a freak accident while fishing in the Russian River. Earlier, at the age of four, in another accident, the middle finger on his right hand was accidentally amputated by his brother while the two boys were splitting kindling. Finally, as a young man, he was involved in a horrendous car accident which resulted in the death of a close and talented friend. Garcia narrowly escaped being killed himself.

Dissolution and continuation of the band:
Following Garcia's death in August of 1995, the remaining members formally decided to disband. The main focus of the members was to pursue various solo projects, most notably Bob Weir's Ratdog, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Mickey Hart's music for the 1996 Olympics.
In June 1996 Bob Weir (with Ratdog) and Mickey Hart (with Mickey Hart's Mystery Box), along with Bruce Hornsby and his band, joined five other bands and toured as the Furthur Festival. In 1998's Furthur Festival, Weir, Hart, and Bruce Hornsby were joined by Phil Lesh to form a new band called The Other Ones. The Strange Remain is a live recording of The Other Ones during the 1998 Furthur Festival. The lineup of The Other Ones would shift, notably involving the addition of Bill Kreutzmann, the departure, then return, of Lesh, and the departure of Bruce Hornsby to pursue his solo work; however, the band settled on a steady lineup by 2002.
Phil, Bobby, and Donna Godchaux sang the National Anthem at the last Giants game ever at Candlestick Park on September 30, 1999 (against the Dodgers). According to The San Francisco Chronicle's Ron Kroichick, these former members of "the Grateful Dead performed the anthem with dispatch, taking 1 minute and 27 seconds. Jerry Garcia would have been proud." Bobby and Donna walked off arm-in-arm as Shakedown Street was played over the PA system.
The tour of The Other Ones in 2002 began with two huge shows at celebrated Alpine Valley and continued with a late October return to Shoreline Amphitheatre and an ensuing full Autumn and Winter tour culminating in a New Years Eve show in Oakland where the band played Dark Star among other fan favorites.[16] The tour that included Bob, Bill, Phil and Mickey, was so successful and satisfying that the band decided the name was no longer appropriate. On February 14, 2003, (as they said) "reflecting the reality that [was]," they renamed themselves The Dead, reflecting the abbreviated form of the band name that fans had long used and keeping "Grateful" retired out of respect for Garcia.[citation needed] The members would continue to tour on and off through the end of their 2004 Summer Tour - the "Wave That Flag" tour, named after the original 1973 uptempo version of the song "U.S. Blues." The band accepted Jeff Chimenti on keyboards, Jimmy Herring on guitar, and Warren Haynes on guitar and vocals as part of the band for the tour.
In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Grateful Dead #55 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
On September 24, 2005, the Rex Foundation of the Grateful Dead family, sans Phil Lesh who declined the invitation and instead opted to attend his son's orientation at Stanford, held the "Comes A Time" tribute to Jerry Garcia at the Greek Theater. Phil Lesh's absence led to fan speculation about a schism in the band, which was exacerbated by the highly publicized Archive.org music downloading PR debacle, which set tensions high within the community. Although differences of opinion were exhibited publicly by various band members, Phil Lesh helped clear the air about the "state of the band" by saying "A lot of our business disagreements are the result of poor communication from advisors. Bobby is my brother and I love him unconditionally; he is a very generous man, and was unfairly judged regarding the Archive issue." As for the future of the band, Lesh also said "The Dead is a big rusty machine that takes awhile to crank up. I am completely open to doing a Terrapin Station weekend and hopefully we will get it together for this summer." In early May 2006 Phil Lesh announced plans for a 24 date summer tour with a band billed again as Phil Lesh & Friends. The tour began with Tennessee's Bonnaroo festival on June 18.
On August 19, 2006, Bob Weir, Donna Jean Godchaux, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, played together at the Gathering of the Vibes during the Rhythm Devils set.
On January 4, 2007 Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart reunited along with Bruce Hornsby, Mike Gordon (of Phish and the Rhythm Devils) and Warren Haynes to play two sets at a post-inauguration fundraising party for speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi. They were billed as "Your House Band" and performed some Grateful Dead classics such as "Truckin'" and "Touch of Grey". Other performers appearing at the event included Tony Bennett, Wyclef Jean and Carole King.
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.

Touring:
The Grateful Dead are well-known for constantly touring throughout their long career. 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'.
The Dead also toured with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as the house band for the Acid Tests, where Neal Cassady of On the Road fame, served as the Furthur bus driver.
With the exception of 1975, when the band was on hiatus and played only four concerts together, the Grateful Dead toured regularly around the USA from the winter of 1965 until July 9, 1995with a few detours to Canada, Europe and three nights at the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt in 1978. They also appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and 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. Many of these concerts were preserved in the band's legendary Vault and later released on CD.

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 jams, which featured both individual improvisation as well as distinctive "group-mind" improvisations during which each of the band members improvised individually, while still blending together as a musical unit. Musically this may be illustrated in that not only did the band improvise within the form of a song, but also improvised with the form. The cohesive listening abilities of each band member made for a very elevated level of what might be called "free form". Their concert sets often blended songs, one into the next (a segue).

Wall of Sound:
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, so in their early days, soundman Owsley "Bear" Stanley designed a public-address (PA) and monitor system for them. 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, considered to be a superior engineer to Stanley, would mix the Grateful Dead's live sound until 1993.
The Wall of Sound fulfilled the band's desire for a distortion-free sound system that could also serve as its own monitoring system. After Stanley got out of prison in late 1972, he, Dan Healy and Mark Raizene of the Grateful Dead's sound crew, in collaboration with Ron Wickersham, Rick Turner, and John Curl of Alembic combined eleven separate sound systems in an effort to deliver high-quality sound to audiences. Vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and piano each had their own channel and set of speakers. Phil Lesh's bass was piped through a quadraphonic encoder that sent signals from each of the four strings to its own channel and set of speakers. Another channel amplified the bass drum, and two more channels carried the snares, tom-toms, and cymbals. Because each speaker carried just one instrument or vocalist, the sound was exceptionally clear and free of intermodulation distortion.
Moreover, the Dead's Wall of Sound acted as its own monitor system, and it was therefore assembled behind the band so the members could hear exactly what their audience was hearing. Because of this, Stanley and Alembic designed a special microphone system to prevent feedback. This placed matched pairs of condenser microphones spaced 60 mm apart and run out-of-phase. The vocalist sang into the top microphone, and the lower mic picked up whatever other sound was present in the stage environment. The signals were summed, the sound that was common to both mics (the sound from the Wall) was cancelled, and only the vocals were amplified.
The Wall of Sound consisted of 89 300-watt solid-state and three 350-watt vacuum-tube amplifiers generating a total of 26,400 watts RMS of audio power. This systems projected high quality playback at six hundred feet with an acceptable sound projected for a quarter mile. at which point wind interference degraded it. The Wall of Sound was the largest portable sound system ever built (although "portable" is a relative term). [citation needed] The Grateful Dead had two stages for the Wall of Sound. One would go ahead to the next city and begin being set up as soon as possible while the other was being used; the other would then "leapfrog" to the next show. Four semi-trailers and 21 crew members were required to haul and set up the 75-ton Wall.

Though the initial framework and a rudimentary form of the system was unveiled in February 1973 (ominously, every speaker tweeter blew as the band began their first number), the Grateful Dead did not begin to tour with the full system until a year later in 1974. The Wall of Sound was very efficient for its day, but it suffered from other drawbacks besides its sheer size. Synthesist Ned Lagin, who toured with the group throughout much of 1974, never received his own dedicated input into the system, and was forced to use the vocal subsystem. Because this was often switched to the vocal mikes, many of Lagin's parts were lost in the mix. The Wall's quadraphonic format never translated well to soundboard tapes made during the period, as the sound was compressed into an unnatural stereo format and suffers from a pronounced tinniness.

The rising cost of fuel and personnel, as well as friction among many of the newer crew members (and associated hangers-on), contributed to the band's 1974 "retirement." The Wall of Sound was disassembled, and when the Dead began touring again in 1976, it was with a more logistically practical sound system.

Dead Heads:
Fans of the band are commonly referred to as Dead Heads. While the origin of the term may be shrouded in haze, Dead Heads was made canon by the legendary notice suggested by Hank Harrison and placed inside the Skull and Roses album.
The Dead Heads formed a huge extended family.[citation needed] 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".

Tapers:
The Grateful Dead allowed their fans to tape their shows like several other bands during the time. For many years the tapers set up their microphones wherever they could. Naturally the best sound was in front of the sound board. 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. Certain, more daring tapers opted to disregard the official taping section by recording the show from in Front of the Soundboard (known as "FOB" tapers). These recordings are typically regarded as higher quality, because of the microphones' closer proximity to the sound source. This is infinitely debatable, of course. These tapers would often be found by security personnel and either moved back to the regular taping section, or ejected from the venue. Still, these FOB tapes are in large demand by tape collectors. The band allowed sharing of tapes of their shows, as long as no profits were made on the sale of their show tapes. Recently, there was some dispute over what recordings archive.org could host on their site. Currently, all recordings are hosted, though soundboard recordings are not available for download, rather in a streaming format.


Former members:
-Jerry Garcia.
-Bob Weir.
-Phil Lesh.
-Bill Kreutzmann.
-Ron "Pigpen" McKernan.
-Mickey Hart.
-Tom Constanten.
-Keith Godchaux.
-Donna Godchaux.
-Brent Mydland.
-Vince Welnick.
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