Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead Artistfacts

  • 1965-1995
    Jerry GarciaGuitar, vocals1965-1995
    Bob WeirGuitar, vocals1965-1995
    Ron "Pigpen" McKernanKeyboards, harmonica, vocals1965-1972
    Phil LeshBass, vocals1965-1995
    Bill KreutzmannDrums1965-1995
    Mickey HartPercussion, drums1967-1970; 1974-1995
    Tom ConstantenKeyboards1968-1970
    Keith GodchauxKeyboards1971-1979
    Donna GodchauxVocals1971-1979
    Brent MydlandKeyboards1979-1990
    Vince WelnickKeyboards1990-1995
  • Ben & Jerry's has an ice cream flavor called Cherry Garcia, named after their guitarist. Garcia donated the royalties to his favorite charities. Garcia also had lines of shirts and ties. His ties have been seen on people as influential as Bill Clinton and Al Gore.
  • The name Grateful Dead refers to a motif in English (and other cultures') folk tales and ballads in which a poor traveler spends his last coin to pay for the proper burial of a pauper, and is later rewarded for his good deed by some creature or person that reveals itself to be the spirit of the "grateful dead." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Gwyn - Fairfax, VA
  • When The Dead were touring with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers in 1986, Garcia was recovering from drug addiction and fell into a diabetic coma for five days.
  • The Dead were into preserving the world's rainforests. Some of them went so far as to purchase a jungle in Costa Rica. They were going to try to make chewing gum from the rubber trees.
  • Hart and Kreutzmann composed percussion-heavy music for the Apocalypse Now soundtrack in 1979.
  • Garcia died in his room at Serenity Knolls, a treatment facility in Forest Knolls, California. He was there battling his heroin addiction and died of a heart attack. His death marked the end of the Grateful Dead.
  • There were sections at Dead shows specifically designed for the hearing impaired. They were seated next to the speakers and given a person to translate the lyrics into sign language.
  • At the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, the Dead played a set in between The Who and Jimi Hendrix. They also played at Woodstock on the second day between Canned Heat and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

    Their Woodstock performance straddled the night of Saturday, August 16, and the early morning of Sunday, August 17. One would think the Woodstock scene was tailor made for the Dead, but it didn't go well, at least by Dead frontman Jerry Garcia's own estimation:

    "We played such a bad set at Woodstock. The weekend was great, but our set was terrible. We were all pretty smashed, and it was at night. Like we knew there were a half million people out there, but we couldn't see one of them. There were about a hundred people on stage with us, and everyone was scared that it was gonna collapse. On top of that, it was raining or wet, so that every time we touched our guitars, we'd get these electrical shocks. Blue sparks were flying out of our guitars."

    Garcia seemed to feel things weren't going well during the show. Before starting "Dark Star," the third song of their set, he addressed the audience to let them know the band's timing was off. Still, the Dead drove on through their set, only stopping a little short because their amps blew during a "Love Light" jam.
  • The Godchauxs were husband and wife. Keith had been Dave Mason's piano player. They were asked to leave in 1979.
  • Hart was kicked out his High School band because his teacher didn't think he could keep a beat.
  • Kreutzmann loves diving and filmed a 50-minute documentary called Ocean Spirit.
  • No Grateful Dead show was ever the same. Donna Jean Godchaux told Songfacts: "Whether it was tempo or the whole sense of the song and the vibe of the song, everything changed so often and with every show, which is why the Grateful Dead audience didn't want to miss a show. Even though they could've played the same song again the next night, the same show again, it was going to be different and they knew it. That's the beauty of the Grateful Dead and that's the attraction that so many hundreds of thousands of people had to the Grateful Dead: You go to a concert and it's an adventure."
  • The fans of the Grateful Dead are known as Deadheads, and have often been called the best fans in rock n' roll. They frequently followed the Dead from town to town, attempting to see as many shows as possible. They usually wore tie dyed clothing and would also engage in the use of many illegal substances.
  • Garcia was in the army for nine months in 1959 before meeting longtime collaborator Robert Hunter in Palo Alto.
  • Pigpen, Weir, and Garcia were members of Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions in 1964. Also in the band were John Dawson (New Riders of the Purple Sage) and Bob Matthews, later a Dead engineer and founder of Alembic Electronics.
  • They were the house band for Ken Kesey's Acid Tests. These were public LSD parties held before the drug was outlawed.
  • They have lost three keyboard players: McKernan died of cirrhosis, Godchaux was killed in a car accident (The Dead fired him a year earlier), and Mydland died of a drug overdose.
  • By the end of the 1960s, the Grateful Dead owed Warner Brothers $100,000 for studio time. Their first three albums were not commercially successful.
  • Pigpen's last show with the band was at the Hollywood Bowl on June 17, 1972. He died of liver disease a year later.
  • Welnick was a member of the Tubes. Sometimes, Bruce Hornsby would sit in on piano during concerts.
  • Starting in 1984, they let fans tape their shows, which made them a lot more popular. They did it because the bootleggers that gathered in front of the soundboard drove the audio engineer nuts.
  • They got very little radio play and did not sell many albums, but they are one of the top-grossing concert acts of all time.
  • The band was friends with Lithuanian basketball player Sarunas Marciulionis, and when the Lithuanian team needed money to play in the 1992 Olympics, The Dead helped them out. Lithuania won the bronze and wore tie-dyed uniforms on the podium to repay the favor.
  • The name "Grateful Dead" was chosen from the dictionary. Some claim it was a Funk & Wagnalls, others, the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book Of the Dead), but according to Phil Lesh in his biography (page 62), "Jer (Garcia) picked up an old Britannica World Language Dictionary... in that silvery elf-voice he said to me, 'Hey, man, how about the Grateful Dead?'" The definition there was "A song meant to show a lost soul to the other side." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    max - virginia beach, VA
  • Garcia designed a suite at the Beverly Hills Pescott Hotel. The room features his paintings, pillows, bathrobes and towels.
  • The sound system they set up for shows was called "The Wall Of Sound." It was a huge array of speakers and amplifiers that required 4 trucks to transport. There were two copies of The Wall, as one would travel to the next show while the other was in use. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Throughout their career the Grateful Dead played 317 cover songs and 184 original tunes. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Paul - Freeland, PA
  • They performed a quickly arranged concert the night before the 2008 Super Tuesday primaries in support of Barack Obama. The Deadheads For Obama concert was the band's first show since their 2004 reunion tour. According to Phil Lesh, it was the first time they've ever performed at a political rally. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • The Grateful Dead played the final concert at the Winterland Arena in San Francisco on New Years Eve 1978. The Dead celebrated the closing of the iconic venue as an night-long party and invited some guests, including the actor Dan Aykroyd, who provided the midnight countdown. The guests were treated to a hot buffet breakfast at dawn when the show ended.

Comments: 44

  • Bart from Mooresville NcGreat information thanks.
    There maybe days where all u need is to turn on the deads satellite channel and the day seems to get alot better
  • Robert Berend from EverywhereI'll be teaching a class on the Grateful Dead in April 2021, so I'm doing lots of research. The first Grateful Dead performance was December 4, 1965 at a house in San Jose. When they played the Acid Tests in public, SF, in January 1966, The Warlocks was no longer their name. The first acid test was November 27, 1965. The last one was March 16th, 1967 organized by Larry McMurtry (who married Kesey's widow, Norma), who wrote The Lonesome Dove and Hud. He was in a Stanford writing program with Ken Kesey who organized the Acid Tests along with Stuart Brand who created the Whole Earth Catalog, and Ramon Sender. Ramon collaborated musically with Morton Subotnik, an electronic composer who I believe is still alive. The other NY band called The Warlocks became the Velvet Underground. Furthur was the inspiration for the Who's Magic Bus, and the Magical Mystery Tour bus. The Magical Mystery Tour movie has the Bonzo Dog Band in it, doing their song: Death Cab for Cutie. **I'm happy to accept any corrections!**
  • Wes from TijuanaWhy were the Godchaux's fired from the Group?
  • Jade Donato from The CityI loved the f ing dead and what they stood for. Also how they did things in their special style and also the causes they have helped.
  • Shelby from Missouri, United StatesI haven't been a fan for THAT long, but long enough to know that whenever I hear the Grateful Dead, I can't help but be put in a great mood, instantly! Actually, my boyfriend put me onto them more heavily than I previously had been. Of course I knew one of their famous songs, "Casey Jones", but if we're being honest here, I never actually knew that was them who sang that tune. I had always heard it when it would play on 94.5 the "X", but until I started dating Landon, I came to be far more familiar with them than I ever was before. If you haven't really listened to them much, or haven't here recently you should totally do so! Especially if you're in a funk, having a bad day, or simply just want to feel good inside of your soul. The Grateful Dead, and most importantly Jerry Garcia will forever live on through us Deadheads and I have no doubt in my mind that anything or anyone could ever break that chain! Thank you for all that you have brought to the world of music.

    I ran into the Devil, babe
    He loaned me twenty bills
    I spent that night in Utah
    In a cave up in the hills

    I ran down to the levee
    But the Devil caught me there
    He took my twenty dollar bill
    And he vanished in the air

    I set out running but I take my time
    A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine
    If I get home before daylight
    I just might get some sleep tonight

    * Friend of the Devil is one of my all time favorites. If you just listen to the words you can clearly see that he's talking about women and how they are in some way like the Devil. Maybe that's just me, though . . . . *

    With Love Always,
    Shelby K. Cook
  • Tiger from San DiegoHow does anyone know that Jerry died of a heart attack? Now that is what I want to know the most. Somebody pleaaaase comment on this. I have my own theory. Would love to discuss.
  • Ashes from Durango , CoExcuse me Big J, but are you suggesting the sublime wrote that song?
  • Dizz Quixote from Medford, OrOne afternoon while roofing a home in San Jose, CA, I was listening to KSFO or what radio carried the sports in N CA, and they had a live pregame show from Cobo Hall in Detroit. The host was interviewing Warrior head coach Don Nelson. Something sounded a bit funny, so I started paying attention as the two seemed to be dancing around something. Little hints. Facts came out. The Grateful Dead had played the night before, and the touring Warriors had been invited to see the show as backstage guests of the band. They went, and uh, Don thought that they had a good time, but wasn't sure how they'd play this evening. The hall still reeked of some sort of burned weed or something. Don and the host were chuckling. I was laughing my ass off. Almost fell off the roof. I choose to believe that this was the beginning of the Warriors-Grateful Dead relationship that included the Lithuania Olympic basketball jerseys. As a supporter of public TV, I got a "Free" Lithuania basketball logo'd t-shirt. I had hoped to get it signed by Sarunas, but never had the chance, until I saw that the HardRock Cafe in S.F. was Hanging team jerzsey #1 GARCIA on the wall at noon, about 3 or 4 yrs. later. Sarunas would be there. I walked off the job, went home, got the shirt and headede up to The Hard Rock Van Ness. I got there just as the ceremony started. Boby Weir and Micky were there, along with Don Nelson Jr., Sarunas, Chris Mullen, and Bill Walton. I got all of htem to sign the shirt, and a guy from Liquid Blue t-shirts gave me a free shirt with embroidered dancing bears on the left breast. that shirt was signed just by Boby and Mickey. What a treat. Thank you all, and thank you Jerry, wherever you are. Peace to all,
    Dizz Quixote
  • Matthew from Accident, MdI have a grateful dead ring that i have had for over 20 years, it is the skull with roses head. inside is a stamp with G&S imprinted as well as a symbol of what looks kind of like an @ with 86 beside of it could someone please tell me if they know anything about it and if it is valuable? thanks
  • Barry from New York, NcAt Woodstock, the Grateful Dead actually performed after Mountain (w/ Leslie West), not Canned Heat.
  • Josh from Jamesville, Nythe grateful dead is my life. even though they broke up three years after i was born i still call myself a deadhead. jerry in my opinion is the best guitar player ever. his musics paints pictures even more elaborate than van gough.(with a little help from lsd). robert hunter is the greatest song writter and he deserves more credit. some sources of info on the dead dont even list him as a member. but jerry did say "robert hunter is like the band member that doesnt come on stage" but not in those exact words....
  • Kyle Patrick from New Carlisle, InGarcia's heart-attack was induced by sleep apnea, which has nothing to do with heroin.
  • Norm from Paterson, Njone of the most amazing things about the grateful dead is the radical departure from the music on their first album to their second.
    i believe that no where in history did any artist or group of artists acheive anything as phenomenal as this.
    i just loved their first album and a year later when anthem came out it went right over my head for about two weeks and then i really heard it.
    understanding that record advanced my musical intelligence about 5 years!
    they did it again with live dead and working man's dead. peace
  • Jim from Toledo, OhMy dad told me that they set up college trust funds for all their roadies' kids. I thought that was pretty damn cool of them, if it's true. Can anyone confirm?
  • Danci from Treetown, OkShakedown street is my favorite Grateful Dead song ever! It refers to the fans known as deadheads who follow the band all over. They have to make a living somehow so they sell there wares out on shakedown street. You could find anything you wanted: drugs, jewelry, food, clothes, mainly drugs. "Nothing's shaking on shakedown street/ used to be the heart of town/ don't tell me this town aint got no heart/ you just got to poke around." That translates to "don't sweat it man, just cuz it's not right in front of your face doesn't mean it's not there!" Thanks for letting me rant!
  • John from Hampton, Nhvince welnick just died too, 4th dead keyboarder to die.
  • Kelsey from Birmingham, AlThe Grateful Dead sponsored the 1992 Olympic Lithuanian National Basketball team, who won the bronze medal. The team sported tie-dye warm-ups and jearseys for the Olympic Games. The Dead also donated thousands of dollars to children's charities in Lithuania.
  • Sara Mackenzie from Middle Of Nowhere, Fleven though i was just a kid when jerry died, i still remembered that day, august 9, 1995, in the car on the way to the store. great band, always, the music goes with my mood all the time (being hippie) and also, great concert footage. got live in winderland, new year's and it's great how they just played and created a "culture" worth saving. i salute all deadheads (including me, lol)!!
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScWarren Haynes is awesome. I saw him permorm with the Allman brothers a wer weeks ago.
  • Darrell from Kalkaska, MiAlright, that Don dude made me a little sad. I'm not a true Deadhead, but they rock. Not only the music but good things they did and the way they were. i love those guys and do not see the love that that preached overrated at all. Peace and love to everyone, even Don.
  • Noel from Dublin, IrelandThey didn't break up Warren Haynes replaced Garcia if I remember correctley.
  • James from Windsor, CaThe years from 1990-1994 were my "Dead" years, as I hung out with dead heads, tape heads (concert music collectors), and a few spinners (spinning dancers at concerts). I still own about 30 shows on tape. The two shows I went to will never be forgotten. Good times, great friends.
  • Roscoe from Lake Bluff, IlHey did you know thta the grateful dead were going to name themselves Mithical Ithical Icical Tricical, but then Jerry found a dictionary and when he opened it up the first thing he saw was the term "Grateful Dead". The band didn't really choose to keep that name, they didn't even like the name. But for some reason people just started calling them that and the name just stuck with them. And you did know that jerrys father died but did you know that he died right in front of jerrys eyes. Take that to the person that said that jerrys dad died.
  • Jason from San Francisco, CaHey man, I'm from San Francisco. The Dead is a great band. Come on, they're just a bunch of guys who just like music.
  • Alex from Farmington, NmDid you know Jerry Garcias dad died in a fishing accident and his brother chopped of Jerrys index finger on his right hand witha a hatchet and he went into a coma and had to relearn how to play the guitar in the 60's and the way he learned was buy looking at other guitaritsts fingers and he started playing piano when he was 3 buit quit at 6 when his dad died and then he got his first guitar at a pawn shop, it was a Dan Electro.
  • Celeste from Drexel Hill, PaAug. 9, 1995 forever changed my life. That was the day the music died. Jerry you are so missed.
  • Rudolpho from Waverly, MoSaw the Dead open for the Iron Butterfly in Kansas City, KS back somewhere in '68, said hi to Jerry and got his signature, Pigpen stole the show with his rap and harp blowing on "Lovelight"etc, TC was playing keyboards too that night. Don't remember much about the Butterfly's set that night, and by the way Peter, where is Kansas City, Nebraska, I know of one in MO and KS and even the old Max's KC in NYC but NE?
  • Grace from Liverpool, United StatesSuch a classic band...I guess I gotta love 'em.
  • Kyle from Brooklyn, NyYay W! The commentor, not the president.
  • Rasputin from Dtown, PaJames,

    The song is "Touch of Grey" and is on the "In the Dark" album.
  • James from Des Moines, IaDoes anyone know what song it was that had a music video of the entire band as mechanical skeletons playing a concert? i love that song, but i forget which song it is, and i know it was pretty popular at one point
  • W from Roanoke, Vaummm, hate to burst your bubble Big J but The Grateful Dead was playing Scarlet Begonias while Brad Nowell was still wearing diapers
    the lyrics were written by Robert Hunter
    music by Jerry Garcia
    just thought Id let you know
  • Pete from Emerson, NjFor those of you who never saw a Garcia show- a quick recap - back in the mid-seventies, shows were more communal. Later on, 80's and 90's, they became way too popular to get a communal feeling from them. But Garcia still had a way of drawing those large audiences, like 20,000 people, to focus on what he was doing on stage at any particular time. I remember many times I wished I could've told him, "Jerry, pace yourself. Don't overdo it." But he lived to play guitar and share the message of brotherhood through his art. And like many great artists, he lived a short but brilliant life that left its mark in history.
  • Forrest from Mountains, Nci saw the dead play back in the early 90's for the 1st time, and also the last 3 shows of the flag tour2004. i recommend if u havent seen this band, quit your job/school and go to at least 10 shows next year, with a pocket full of "space supstance"... ill see u there, peace brothers (>")>
  • Sharif from Chicago, IlI'm not old enough to have gone to a dead show with Jerry but I've seen them plenty without him and heard plenty with him and no band can touch what they have, like Graham said, "They're not the best at what they do, they're the only one's who do what they do." How the hell can you argue with one of the top grossing concert act of all time? You also cannot argue with a band that got a company to make the wall of sound for them or the fact that midi pickups were made because of the band's unique sound. Be Grateful that they were around (P.S. they've been around since 1965 ;)
  • Jim from San Clemente, CaNo pummeling from me, but Bill Graham said it best: "The Grateful Dead aren't the best at what they do; they are the only ones that do what they do". They had a style that was truely unique and difficult for some people to understand. What other band could seamlessly slip a Marty Robbins song into the middle of a acid rock song. I loved it. Just my $.02
  • Don from Pittsburgh, PaI know some "DeadHead" freaks out there are gonna want to pummel me,but the Grateful Dead are one of the most overrated bands ever. Period. End of story. Maybe if you clear your heads, you'll ask yourself what the fuss is all about. You had to be gooned out of your mind to get into this band. That's probably what it's all been about. Peace.
  • Shawn from Milwaukee, Widude i just saw the dead at alpine valley on the 24th of july, it was an amazing show, of course there was no jerry, but warren haynes was a great singer, i danced through the whole show! i dont remember it too much though, CLOUDY MIND!! but it was amazing they played china cat sunflower/ i know you rider and phil lesh said that he had one of the best memories ever at that concert when they went away for their encore, it took about 2 minutes for everyone in alpine valley to have their lighters up it was quite a sight was amazing to be was a fun show! check out the setlist its all good too!
  • Peter from Kansas City, Negrateful dead is the best band in the world! jerry is my favorite person from that band.i am a 12 year old deadhead!
  • Gwyn from Fairfax, VaBassist Phil Lesh now gives a short speech promoting organ donation after every show he plays, as part of any lineup including "The Dead" or Phil Lesh & Friends, because he fell victim to hepatitis C and had his life saved by a liver transplant in 1998.
  • Gwyn from Fairfax, Va"Never had such a good time in my life before
    I'd like to have it one time more
    One good ride from start to end
    I'd like to take that ride again"

    -- from "Might As Well"
  • Bree from Sarasota, FlBest times ever had were at Dead shows
  • Big J from Long Beach, CaScarlet begonias is good...not by the dead..but by the GREATEST BAND OF ALL TIME! sublime, who else?
  • Ryan from Janesville, Wi#1 Jam band!
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