The Grateful Dead




Birth Name



The original line-up comprised Jerry Garcia (b. Jerome John Garcia, 1 August 1942, San Francisco, California, USA, d. 9 August 1995, Forest Knolls, California, USA; lead guitar),Bob Weir (b. Robert Hall, 16 October 1947, San Francisco, California, USA; rhythm guitar), Phil Lesh (b. Philip Chapman, 15 March 1940, Berkeley, California, USA; bass), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (b. 8 September 1945, San Bruno, California, USA. d. 8 March 1973; keyboards) and Bill Kreutzmann (b. 7 April 1946, Palo Alto, California, USA; drums). The Grateful Dead have been synonymous with the San Francisco/Acid Rock scene since its inception in 1965 when they took part in Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. Stanley Owsley manufactured the then legal LSD and plied the band and their friends with copious amounts. This hallucinogenic opus was duly recorded onto tape over a six-month period, and documented in Tom Wolfe's book The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. Wolfe stated that "They were not to be psychedelic dabblers, painting pretty pictures, but true explorers."

Their music, which started out as straightforward rock, blues and R&B, germinated into a hybrid of styles, but has the distinction of being long, wandering and improvisational. By the time their first album was released in 1967 they were already a huge local cult band. Grateful Dead sounds raw in the light of 90s record production, but it was a brave, early attempt to capture a live concert sound on a studio album. "Cold Rain And Snow" and "The Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion" are short compositions that could have been successful pop singles, had Warner Brothers known how to market the band. The follow-up Anthem Of The Sun was much more satisfying. On this alleged "live" record, 17 different concerts and four different live studios were used. The non-stop suite of ambitious segments with tantalizing titles such as "The Faster We Go, The Rounder We Get" and "Quadlibet For Tenderfeet" was an artistic success. Their innovative and colourful album covers were among the finest examples of San Franciscan art, utilizing the talents of Kelley Mouse Studios (Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse).

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