Pin It
Favorite

For The Uninitiated 

by Mike Corrigan


The Dead was born in 1965 in San Francisco with country/bluegrass instrumentalist Jerry Garcia (guitar), Bob Weir (guitar), Phil Lesh (bass), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards) and Bill Kreutzmann (drums). The band soon switched from its initial acoustic folk and bluegrass sound to one that relied more heavily on electronics (and L.S.D.), creating a mutant strain of eclectic R & amp;B/folk rock. Mickey Hart joined in 1967 and lyricist Robert Hunter signed on in time to contribute to the band's third album for Warner Bros., 1969's Aoxomoxoa.


Dead concerts soon became the stuff of acid dreams and rock legend. Its indulgent, laid-back, often sloppy approach to performing was well received live (among the legions of Deadheads likely more perpetually stoned than the band itself) but never translated very well to recording. Thus the Grateful Dead became, arguably, the most successful touring/least successful recording bands of the rock era. The group's creative (and commercially successful) peak as recording artists was reached in the early '70s with a string of albums -- American Beauty, Workingman's Dead and The Grateful Dead -- that together yielded many of the hits that would be performed endlessly as the group's signature tunes: "Uncle John's Band," "Casey Jones," "Sugar Magnolia" and "Truckin'."


Essentially locked out of commercial radio, the Dead turned touring into an obsession -- for themselves and their tie-dyed fan base -- spending fully one-half of every year during the '70s and '80s on the road (Garcia's five-day, drug-induced diabetic coma in 1986 kept him off the tour for only five months). Even death has repeatedly failed to stop the Dead. McKernan died of a stomach hemorrhage in 1973 and was replaced by keyboardist Keith Godchaux, who himself died in a 1980 automobile accident. Godchaux's replacement, Brent Mydland, died of an overdose in 1990. Garcia succumbed to heart failure in 1995, at which point the Grateful Dead officially called it quits.


Fans distraught over Garcia's death wondered what could ever replace him. But soon bands like Phish and the Dave Matthews Band took up the slack, and their tours, filled with diehard followers with an underground subculture all their own, became Dead-like traveling communes. Now, nearly 40 years after their Haight-Ashbury days, what's left of the Dead (minus the "Grateful" part) is back on the road.





Publication date: 09/18/03
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Children Will Listen
  • Children Will Listen

    How art speaks to life in this particular moment
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • So Here We Are
  • So Here We Are

    Here's hoping the new president fills the office with the grace and sense of tradition it requires
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • Get Big Money Out
  • Get Big Money Out

    Letters to the Editor
    • Jan 18, 2017
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Women's March on Spokane

Women's March on Spokane @ Spokane Convention Center

Sat., Jan. 21, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Mike Corrigan

  • Lights, Camera, Skate
  • Lights, Camera, Skate

    Two local artists have transformed their love of skateboarding into a new variety show on Community Television.
    • Dec 14, 2011
  • Time Travelers
  • Time Travelers

    For some local store owners, finding intriguing merchandise isn’t just business, it’s an obsession.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    A raucous good time from Thee Oh Sees. Plus, vintage horror and a Berlin filmmaker to check out.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • One Free Shave

    Donald Trump might have merited a honeymoon with voters had he managed his transition better
    • Dec 29, 2016
  • Positive Protest

    Why peaceful action should be understood as a point of national pride
    • Dec 22, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Comment


scandal


scandals


Briefs


marijuana


Readers also liked…

  • To Kill the Black Snake
  • To Kill the Black Snake

    Historic all-tribes protest at Standing Rock is meant to stop the destruction of the earth for all
    • Sep 8, 2016
  • Do The Right Thing
  • Do The Right Thing

    Washington state needs to ban the damaging, destructive pseudoscience of gay conversion therapy
    • Jun 3, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation