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THE GRATEFUL DEAD - Music is Society

About THE GRATEFUL DEAD

Previous Entry THE GRATEFUL DEAD Mar. 7th, 2006 @ 02:02 pm Next Entry
The Grateful Dead was an American psychedelia-influenced rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco from the remnants of another band, "Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions," the Grateful Dead were known for their unique and eclectic songwriting style—which fused elements of rock, folk music, bluegrass, blues, country, and jazz—and for live performances of long modal jams.

Some of the band's fans followed the band from concert to concert for years. These so-called Deadheads were renowned for their dedication to the band's music. Many followers referred to the band simply as The Dead.

The Grateful Dead's career began under the name "The Warlocks" in Palo Alto, California, but as another band was already recording under that name (interestingly, it was the future Velvet Underground), the band had to change its name in order to get a recording contract. 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, 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, blues musician "Pigpen" McKernan, the classically trained Phil Lesh and drummer Bill Kreutzmann [1]. 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".

The name "Grateful Dead" was chosen from a dictionary. Some claim it was a Funk & Wagnalls, others an Oxford Dictionary, 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 Grateful Dead became the de facto resident band of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, with the early sound heavily influenced by Kesey's LSD-soaked Acid Tests, as well as R&B. Their musical influences varied widely with input from the psychedelic music of the era, combined with blues, jazz, rock and roll, and bluegrass. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world

Membership
De facto bandleader Jerry Garcia was the lead guitarist for the band—-although he was often seen both by the public and the media as 'leader' or a primary spokesperson for the Grateful Dead, he was reluctant to be seen that way, especially since Garcia and the other group members saw themselves as equal participants and contributors to their collective musical and creative output. Jerry was a native of San Francisco and grew up in the Excelsior District. One of the main influences on his musical style was bluegrass music, and Garcia also performed-—on banjo, his other great instrumental love-—in the bluegrass band Old and in the Way with mandolinist David Grisman. Classically-trained trumpeter Phil Lesh played bass guitar. Bob Weir, the youngest original member of the group, played rhythm guitar. Ron "Pigpen" McKernan played keyboards, harmonica and was also a group vocalist until shortly before his death in 1973 at the age of 27. All of the previously mentioned Grateful Dead members shared in vocal performance of songs, although none of them had a particularly strong or tuneful voice. Bill Kreutzmann played drums, and in 1968 was joined by a second drummer, New York native Mickey Hart, who also played a wide variety of other percussion instruments. Hart quit the Grateful Dead in 1971, embarrassed by the financial misdealings of his father, Dead money manager Lenny Hart, and leaving Kreutzmann once again as the sole percussionist. Hart rejoined the Dead for good in 1975. Tom "TC" Constanten played keyboards alongside Pigpen from 1968 to 1970. 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 Dead as a backing vocalist. Keith and Donna left the band in 1979, and Brent Mydland joined as keyboardist and vocalist. Keith Godchaux died in a car accident in 1980. Brent Mydland was the keyboardist for the Dead for 11 years until his death in 1990. He became the third Dead keyboardist to die. Almost immediately, former Tubes keyboardist Vince Welnick joined on keyboards and vocals. For a year and a half, Welnick was often joined by special guest Bruce Hornsby on piano. Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow were the band's primary lyricists. Owsley "Bear" Stanley was the Grateful Dead's soundman for many years; he was also one of the largest suppliers of LSD

The Grateful Dead are well-known for their near constant touring throughout their long career in music. 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 years, the band was also dedicated 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'

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, 1995—with a few detours to Canada, Europe and three nights at the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt in 1978. (They also appeared at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the even more famous Woodstock Festival in 1969; 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.)

Their numerous studio albums were generally collections of new songs that had been initially played in concert. The band was famous for its extended jams, which showcased both individual improvisation as well as a distinctive "group-mind" improvisation where each of the band members improvised individually, while still blending together as a cohesive musical unit, often engaging in extended improvisational flights of fancy. A hallmark of their concert sets were continuous sets of music where each song would blend into the next (a segue). Musically this may be illustrated in that the band not only improvised within the form of a song, yet also improvised with the forms.

Wall of Sound
The Wall of Sound was an enormous sound system designed specifically for the Grateful Dead. The band were never satisfied with the house system anywhere they played, so in their early days, soundman Owsley "Bear" Stanley designed a PA and monitor system for them. Stanley's sound systems were delicate and finicky, and frequently brought shows to a halt with technical issues. After Stanley was placed in jail for LSD production in 1970, the group briefly used house PAs, but ultimately found them to be less reliable than the systems conceived by their former soundman. In 1971, the band purchased their first solid 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 was a superior engineer to Stanley and would mix the Grateful Dead's live sound until 1993.

The desire driving the development of the Wall of Sound was for a distortion-free sound system that could serve as its own monitor system. After Owsley Stanley was released from prison in late 1972, he, along with Dan Healey, Mark Raizene of the Grateful Dead's sound crew, and Ron Wickersham, Rick Turner, and John Curl of Alembic Inc accomplished this by essentially combining eleven separate sound systems. Vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, and piano each had their own channel and set of speakers. Phil Lesh's bass was quadraphonic, each of the four strings having its own channel and set of speakers. One channel amplified the bass drum, and two channels amplified the other drums and cymbals in stereo. Because each speaker was producing the sound of just one instrument or vocalist, the sound was exceptionally clear and intermodulation distortion between instruments was nonexistent.

The Wall of Sound was designed to act 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, a special microphone system had to be designed to prevent feedback. The Dead used matched pairs of condenser microphones spaced 60mm 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 used 89 300-Watt solid state and three 350-Watt tube amplifiers to produce 26,400 total Watts RMS of audio power. It was capable of producing acceptable sound at a quarter mile, and excellent sound for up to six hundred feet, when the sound began to be distorted by wind. It was the largest portable sound system ever built (although "portable" is a relative term). Four semi trucks 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 did have its pitfalls in addition to 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 for amplification. 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.

Steal Your Face
In the words of Owsley Stanley:

In 1969 the Dead were renting a warehouse in Novato, California. I was sound man for the band at the time, and lived in Oakland. Bob Thomas, an old friend of mine had just moved from LA to the Bay area and needed a place to stay, and we needed someone to look after the warehouse, which had had a problem with break-ins.

Bob was a superb graphic artist whose work is now familiar to most Deadheads in the form of the Live Dead album cover and the Bear's Choice cover, on which the popular Dancing Bears appeared.

The Dead in those days had to play in a lot of festival style shows where the equipment would all wind up at the back of the stage in a muddle. Since every band used pretty much the same type of gear it all looked alike. We would spend a fair amount of time moving the pieces around so that we could read the name on the boxes. I decided that we needed some sort of marking that we could identify from a distance.

I was in the habit of driving from Oakland to Novato in a little MGTF which had plastic side curtains, which were not very transparent, due to aging of the plastic. One day in the rain, I looked out the side and saw a sign along the freeway which was a circle with a white bar across it, the top of the circle was orange and the bottom blue. I couldn't read the name of the firm, and so was just looking at the shape. A thought occurred to me: if the orange were red and the bar across were a lightning bolt cutting across at an angle, then we would have a very nice, unique and highly identifiable mark to put on the equipment.

At the warehouse I told Bob the idea that I had, and he made a quick sketch. A mutual friend, Ernie Fischbach, who was visiting with Bob, said "Give it to me, I'll show you an easy way to put it on the boxes." Whereupon he proceeded to cut holes in a couple of pieces of stencil paper. One was a circular hole, about 5 1/2 inches in diameter, and the other was a part of a circle 5 inches in diameter. But it was a half circle with a jagged edge. Then he held the stencil to an amp and sprayed a circle of white paint. Then with one side up, the red half circle went on top of the dried white paint and after wiping off the red and turning the stencil over, the blue was applied. This was the first version, and we put it on to all our gear. It helped make it easier to find our stuff in the crunch. I still have an old toolbox with one of the stencils on it.

A few days later I was talking to Bob and suggested that perhaps the words "Grateful dead" could be placed under the circle, using a style of lettering that would appear to be a skull if you saw it from a distance (I guess I was influenced by too many posters of the time). Any way a few hours later he came down from the loft with the design we know and love.

Deadheads
Many of their fans, commonly referred to as Deadheads, would follow the band on tour. In contrast to many other bands, the Grateful Dead encouraged their fans to tape their shows. For many years, almost all of their shows would have dedicated taping sections. The band allowed sharing of tapes of their shows, as long as no profits were made on the sale of their show tapes. In the 1980s, the band scored a top 40 hit with the song "Touch of Grey" (from In the Dark), which garnered a much younger and more mainstream fandom that was considered sharply different from the traditional Deadheads. These new followers were deemed "Touchheads" by the more established fans, a reference to their relative inexperience with the band. The late 1980s and 90s saw the Grateful Dead attracting a huge following that left many long time deadheads in doubt as to whether people were coming out for shows to see the band, or simply to be part of the atmosphere. Whatever their differences, the deadheads are often considered to be the most devoted fans in the rock world.

The parking lot of a Grateful Dead concert was as much a part of the event as the concert itself. One could find items for sale at many cars in the lot, from grilled cheese sandwiches to "kind" brews and nitrous balloons. (Some deadheads would earn their entire touring budget selling such items.) Concertgoers typically congregated in the lot for hours before a show, playing guitar, hacky sacking and getting high. After the show, a deadhead with the post-show munchies could probably find a grilled cheese sandwich made on a camping stove at the door of a VW bus by a friendly hippie.

Live releases
Starting in 1991, the Grateful Dead released numerous live concerts from their archives in two concurrent series: the From the Vault releases are multi-track remixes, whereas the Dick's Picks series (named for the band's late archivist, Dick Latvala) are based on two-track mixes made at the time of the recording. There have been at least 36 Dick's Picks releases as of November 2005. A series of videos began to trickle out of "The Vault", starting with View From the Vault (recorded in Pittsburgh on July 8, 1990 at Three Rivers Stadium) and View from the Vault II (recorded in Washington, DC on June 14, 1991 at RFK Stadium); these releases are accompanied by the simultaneous release of multi-disc soundtrack CDs of the same shows represented on the videos. All three series of releases continue to this day.

In the summer of 2005 the Dead began offering downloadable versions of both their existing live releases, and a new internet-only series, The Grateful Dead Download Series, that is available exclusively through both their own GDStore.com (which offers the albums in both 256 kbit/s mp3 files and FLAC files -- a preferred audio standard for those who archive Dead and other fan-made live recordings on the Internet) and the iTunes Music Store (which offers them in their 128 kbit/s AAC format). Not surprisingly, these Internet-only albums have met with the same success as their CD-based brethren.

In November of 2005, the Dead's management outraged fans by asking the operators of the popular Internet Archive (archive.org) to stop making concerts available for download, and to offer only streamcast recordings instead. The band's spokesman, Dennis McNally, claimed such a repository "doesn't represent Grateful Dead values" because it doesn't foster one-to-one connections between fans. However, David Gans, host of a syndicated radio program, "The Grateful Dead Hour," speculates that the band is motivated by money, noting "when they were making $50 million a year on the road, there wasn't a lot of pressure to monetize their archives."[5]

The removal of the Dead's concerts from Archive.org created a storm of protest, in addition to a rapidly spreading boycott of the band's remaining commercial products. Several days after the announcement that the concerts had been removed, Brewster Kahle of Archive.Org made a cryptic announcement that audience tapes of the concerts would again become available, though so-called board tapes would only be available as streaming audio. Kahle claimed that the whole affair had been a "misunderstanding," but John Perry Barlow, one of the band's lyricists, claimed that concerts had been restored after several members of the band had backed away from their earlier opposition after realizing they had created a public relations "catastrophe."

History
The Grateful Dead formed during the era when bands like the Beatles and 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 "folk-rock" band The Lovin' Spoonful that they decided to "go electric." 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 Ron "Pigpen" McKernan was a no-nonsense deep blues lover and drummer Bill Kreutzmann had a jazz 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 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. 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—a form of psychedelia that might run the gamut from strange to exotically beautiful. Most connoisseurs believe that the Grateful Dead's true spirit was rarely well captured in studio performance.

The early records reflected the Dead's live repertoire — lengthy instrumental jams with guitar solos by Garcia, 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.


Dissolution and Continuation of the band
Following Garcia's death in 1995, the remaining members formally decided to disband. Though some of them occasionally toured through the late 1990s under the name "The Other Ones", they mainly chose to pursue various solo projects, most notably Bob Weir's Ratdog, Phil Lesh and Friends and Mickey Hart's music for the 1996 Olympics. The remaining members occasionally got together under the pseudonym Crusader Rabbit Stealth Band during the late 1990s, infrequently playing unannounced shows. The mid-2002 fall tour of The Other Ones, with 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. The members would continue to tour on and off through the end of their 2004 Summer Tour, the "Wave That Flag" tour, named after a lyric from the song, "U.S. Blues." The band accepted Warren Haynes as their new lead guitarist. Haynes is best known for his work with Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers Band.


Bandmembers
Jerry Garcia - lead guitar, vocals (1965 - 1995)
Bob Weir - rhythm guitar, vocals (1965 - 1995)
Phil Lesh - bass, vocals (1965 - 1995)
Bill Kreutzmann - drums (1965 - 1995)
Mickey Hart - drums (1967 - 1971, 1975 - 1995)
Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, vocals, harmonica, percussion (1965 - 1973)
Tom Constanten - keyboards (1968 - 1970)
Keith Godchaux - keyboards (1971 - 1979)
Donna Jean Godchaux - vocals (1972 - 1979)
Brent Mydland - keyboards, vocals (1979 - 1990)
Vince Welnick - keyboards, vocals (1990 - 1995)
Grateful Dead Band Members (By Year) (1965-1967) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, vocals, percussion

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums


(1967-1968) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, vocals, percussion

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums

Mickey Hart - drums


(1968-1970) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, vocals, percussion

Tom Constanten - keyboards

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums

Mickey Hart - drums


(1970-1971) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, vocals, percussion

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums

Mickey Hart - drums


(1971) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, vocals, percussion

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums


(1971-1972) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, vocals, percussion

Keith Godchaux - keyboards

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums


(1972-1973) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Ron "Pigpen" McKernan - keyboards, harmonica, vocals, percussion

Keith Godchaux - keyboards

Donna Jean Godchaux - vocals

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums


(1973-1975) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Keith Godchaux - keyboards

Donna Jean Godchaux - vocals

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums


(1975-1979) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Keith Godchaux - keyboards

Donna Jean Godchaux - vocals

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums

Mickey Hart - drums


(1979-1990) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Brent Mydland - keyboards, vocals

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums

Mickey Hart - drums


(1990-1995) Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals

Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

Vince Welnick - keyboards, vocals

Phil Lesh - bass guitar, vocals

Bill Kreutzmann - drums

Mickey Hart - drums


**Grateful Dead Shakedown Street Lyrics**

You tell me this town ain't got no heart. Well, well, well, you can never tell.
The sunny side of the street is dark. Well, well, well, you can never tell.
Maybe that's cause it's midnight, in the dark of the moon besides.

Maybe the dark is from your eyes, Maybe the dark is from your eyes,
Maybe the dark is from your eyes, Maybe the dark is from your eyes,
Maybe the dark is from your eyes, Maybe the dark is from your eyes,
You know you got such dark eyes!

Nothin' shakin' on Shakedown Street. Used to be the heart of town.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart. You just gotta poke around.

You think you've seen this town clear through.
Well, well, well, you can never tell.
Nothin' here that could int'rest you. Well, well, well, you can never tell.
It's not because you missed out on the thing that we had to start.

Maybe you had too much too fast. Maybe you had too much too fast.
Maybe you had too much too fast. Maybe you had too much too fast.
Maybe you had too much too fast. Maybe you had too much too fast.
Or just over played your part.

Nothin' shakin' on Shakedown Street. Used to be the heart of town.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart. You just gotta poke around.

Since I'm passing your way today. Well, well, well, you can never tell.
I just stopped in 'cause I want to say, Well, well, well, you can never tell.
I recall your darkness when it crackled like a thundercloud.

Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart.
When I can hear it beat out loud!

Nothin' shakin' on Shakedown Street. Used to be the heart of town.
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart. You just gotta poke around
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