Compassion, peace and a celebratory atmosphere have loyally followed the Grateful Dead for five decades, yet the reformed group's November 13, 2015 concert began on a somber note.
After taking the stage with his Dead & Company bandmates, grabbing his guitar and briefly warming his fingers, Bob Weir started the show with a eulogy: “So to begin, we have some bad news from Paris. And really I think the best thing we can do, all of us are doing, is remember, celebrate the lives of the 60 or so Parisian concertgoers who died today at the hands of religious extremists, who if they had their way, would outlaw music in all the world." He implored Deadheads to celebrate the lives of those who lost their lives in the Paris attacks "and the joy that they found in music.”
For the hours leading up to the Dead & Company tour stop at Columbus, Ohio’s Nationwide Arena, social media feeds and news reports were filled with the news unfolding across the globe; and with tragedy occurring at a concert, I could not help feel grief, slight paranoia and empathy.
Following Weir’s dedication, he and the band (John Mayer on guitar and ...
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story behind the Grateful Dead's performances at the Great Pyramid of Giza in 1978, including the dress vocalist Donna Jean Godchaux wore during one of the Grateful Dead's performances during the group's three-night engagement and the artwork created by Kerry to commemorate the occasion. Both items are featured in Grateful Dead: the Long, Strange Trip, on exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, through 2012.
In 2012, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart sat for an interview at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, where he was on hand to perform and help open the Grateful Dead: the Long, Strange Trip exhibit. In this clip, Hart shares the story of when he first saw the Grateful Dead perform, before he was a member, and how an invitation from founding drummer Bill Kreutzmann to come by a practice session eventually led to Hart's first live performance with the band at the Straight Theater in San Francisco. "I had never heard their music," says Hart. "And then we started playing and hours later it stopped ... And Jerry [Garcia] said, 'We could take this around the world. This is the Grateful Dead.'"
This summer, Donna Jean Godchaux of the Grateful Dead spoke at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, as part of the Museum's Hall of Fame Series. During an engaging interview with the Rock Hall's VP of education Lauren Onkey, Godchaux shared stories from her impressive career, including how she met her late husband Keith Godchaux, and how a conversation with the Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia after a concert led to Donna and Keith joining the band.
In this interview clip, Donna Jean Godchaux shares "one of the most amazing events in my life" and describes what she felt when Elvis Presley first came in the studio – "I have never seen a human being that gorgeous in my life" – during the sessions for "Suspicious Minds." Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip, a major exhibition devoted to the group, is on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, through 2012.
WATCH: Donna Jean Godchaux on Meeting and Recording with Elvis Presley
The Grateful Dead capped the Sixties with Live/Dead, a double-album that confirmed them as masters of acid-improv. But the spring of 1970 found the group's sound radically redirected on Workingman's Dead. Breezy harmonies and beer-soaked ballads replaced the previous blend of liquid noodling and lysergic lyrics, and no song illustrated the change more succinctly than the opening track, "Uncle John's Band." Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter recalled the song's origins in a 1991 interview with Grateful Dead historian Blair Jackson. According to Garcia, "At that time I was listening to records of the Bulgarian Women's Choir and also this Greek-Macedonian music, and on one of those records there was a... little turn of melody that was so lovely... I thought, 'Gee, if I could get this into a song it would be so great.' So, I stole it." Eventually, Hunter received a tape of the band's finished arrangement. "I played it over and over [and] kept hearing the words 'God damn, Uncle John's mad'... and it took a while for that to turn into 'Come hear Uncle John's Band,' and that's one of those little things where the ...
Among Jerry Garcia's most well-known electric guitars is the unique instrument dubbed "Rosebud." Built for Garcia by luthier Doug Irwin, who had previously worked for Alembic guitars, it was the fourth guitar that Irwin had made for the Grateful Dead's charismatic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.
While Irwin had named the guitar "the Saint," noting that the large inlay below the bridge was "a skeleton in the act of repelling death," Garcia changed the name. Nobody is entirely certain what inspired the "Rosebud" moniker, though Garcia's interest in film and the rose in the skeleton's mouth have been conjectured as possible explanations.
Garcia first played the guitar in 1989, and it was his main stage guitar until 1993.
In this video, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story and details behind Garcia's famous electric guitar, which was featured in the Rock Hall's Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip exhibit, which closed on March 24, 2013.