The Grateful Dead is the most famous band to come out of San Francisco’s psychedelic rock scene. Members have included Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan, Bill Kreutzman, Mickey Hart, Bruce Hornsby (of Bruce Hornsby and the Range fame), Donna Jean Godchaux, Keith Godchaux, Brent Mydland, and Vince Welnick. They started out as Thunder Mountain Tub Thumpers and The Black Mountain Boys and went through many names including The Zodiacs, Mother McGee's Uptown Jug Champions, and The Warlocks. Finally, in 1965 they started playing as the Grateful Dead.
They got their start playing the Acid Tests hosted by Ken Kesey (author of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) and the Merry Pranksters becoming mainstays of the sixties San Francisco scene. Over the course of their career, they have played at Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium and Fillmore East, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, The Matrix coffee shop, Trips Festival, Woodstock, Monterey Pop, Altamont Speedway, The Great Pyramids, The Human Be In, Avalon Ballroom as well as countless colleges, theatres and stadiums in the United States, Europe, Africa and Canada. After 1995 and the death of Jerry Garcia, they played concerts and Furthur Festival as The Other Ones and currently go by The Dead.
The Dead played their own style of heavily improvisational American rock’n’roll with a bluesy, psychedelic, country twist. Each concert was different, so Deadheads (fans of the Grateful Dead) would see as many shows as possible and because each night was different experience. One constant to each concert is Drums and Space or Drums Space. The two drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzman were like a serpent biting its own tail. Their drum duet would lead to Space, an ambient and sometimes cacophonous mélange of sight and sound that spinning hippies would twist and flail to like dazed jesters. The first song out of space is always my favorite of the night.
The Grateful Dead scene is much like family with a communal spirit and the good vibes of peace and love abound. Thousands of intrepid travelers including hippies in day-glow painted microbuses and converted school buses, those in cars and hitchhikers would gather and camp out for the shows. A fully functional tent city would spring up and vendors would supply grilled cheese and veggie burritos, T-shirts, handmade jewelry, and anything else you would need to live on the road with the Dead. While kids can't run away to join the circus, they can still go on tour and see the Grateful Dead. Deadheads come from all walks of life; some are lawyers by day and Deadhead by night. Even Al and Tipper Gore have been spotted at shows. In fact, The Dead even played a private party at the Democratic Convention in Boston.
The Grateful Dead also had a family that extended far beyond the band itself. There were many people behind the scenes that made it all happen. Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow wrote many of the lyrics while Bob Dylan provided music to the experience as well. Neal Cassidy (Jack Kerouac's Dean Moriarty) was the bus driver, Sue Swanson handled the office, and “Bear” Owsley Stanley did the sound, recording, and was engineer for the Wall of Sound. The Grateful Dead is responsible for the invention of many of the common sound engineering practices used today. William "Kidd" Candelario headed Grateful Dead Merchandise among his other road duties and Steve Parish, Ramrod, Rex Jackson and others got the job done night after night. The Grateful Dead did things themselves in house, from Le Club Front to Grateful Dead Records, Fly-by-night-travel, Grateful Dead Ticket Sales (GDTS) now Grateful Dead Ticket Sales The Other Ones (GDTSTOO), and The Rex Foundation were just some of the spin offs of the band.
Now, you can read all you want about the Grateful Dead but if you really want to experience them, go to a show. Of course, the next best thing is to pick up any Dick's Picks from the seventies and turn it up.
Here are some cool Grateful Dead links for you to learn more about the music.
Grateful Dead's Official Site - DeadBase book of Grateful Dead Setlists -The Rex Foundation Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics - Grateful Dead Songfinder - Terrapin Tapes Good Source for Tapers - Grateful Dead Guitar Tabs
Thank you for visiting the Sunshine Joy Distributing site. We provide licensed Grateful Dead products both wholesale and retail.
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Grateful Dead Tapestries - Grateful Dead Bandanas - Grateful Dead Incense - Grateful Dead Plush Bears
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Make Your Own Tie Dye T-Shirt Kit - Angel Stash Bear - Sunshine Joy Distributing Main Page
Grateful Dead Dancin' Bear Tapestries -Licensed Grateful Dead Wholesale Merchandise
Liquid Blue Grateful Dead Tie Dyed-Shirts and Grateful Dead Bean Bears
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