The Grateful Dead, a name known by many and memorialized by fans as a strange spiritual journey. The Grateful Dead embodied more than just the music they produced, but also the sense of community they conveyed to their audience. They were revered by fans as a unique rock band, blending the genres of bluegrass, rock and blues, with several side projects ranging from jazz to drum orchestras. The shows were parties and the fans were their guests, on some occasions actually getting complimentary breakfast because the show went so long (Dec. 31, 1978/ Winterland). Through the thirty year journey The Dead worked through many phases, starting out as the young rock band predominantly in bars and local festivals and ending as the graceful veterans. As a Dead show collector (200+ shows), I have noticed these phases and the people or actions that warranted them.
The death of Ron "Pigpen- Mckernan in 1972 eased them off their edgy bar band image. With Mickey's hiatus and the addition of the Godchauxs' they eased into their funky three years 76'-78' and then acquiring Brent in 79'. The addition of Brent Mydland with his soulful voice and his heartfelt slapping on the Hammond organ brought a new energetic blend to the stage. With the death of Brent in mid 1990, Bruce Hornsby and later Vince Welnick were introduced into the final phase of the Grateful Dead. The "Long Strange Trip- came to a halt in 1995 with the death of Jerry. I don't have the time to Chronicle the 30 years this experience lasted, but rather only wish to expound on this monumental band's relationship with its audience that lasted 4 decades and why quite possibly the ugliest rock band lasted so long, never slighting each others talent and always evoking the emotions that keeps their music alive.
One spring day in 1964, Bob Weir was walking down the street with a couple of his high school buddies. As they were walking past Dana Morgan's Music Shop, Bob heard some banjo pickin' coming from the back "went in and checked it out.