The 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 have sold more than 35 million albums
The Grateful Dead was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area amid the
rise of counterculture of the 1960s. The founding members 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, vocals 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, Phil Lesh
& Friends, Bob Weir & Ratdog, and the Rhythm Devils with
drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.
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.