The Grateful Dead

by Erika Cox
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The Grateful Dead were a 1960's psychedelic band that were famous for their live performances, in fact, the band was more of an improvising and live performance band than an studio band.

The Grateful Dead also had, and still does have, a huge fan-base following known as "Deadheads." The band was formed in 1965 in San Francisco, which was a burgeoning place where many psychedelic and not so psychedelic bands of the 1960's started their careers and became successful.

The enlightening culture in San Francisco allowed many new bands like the Grateful Dead to flourish. These bands embraced the new sounds of the 1960's, which included the psychedelic sounds. Most of the flower children or "hippie" culture evolved in San Francisco. The drug culture also begun and flourished among the "hippie" subculture, and the Grateful Dead was very much part of this culture.

The band is known for its unique sound, which included a variety of music genres, including rock, blues, jazz, folk, country, psychedelic, and even gospel. This combination of most music genres made the group's sound unique and is part of the reason why their fan base is so large and strong, even today.

Until the untimely death of the band's leader, Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead was one of the longest performing bands and one of the few bands that stayed together throughout the years.

The band was first known as "The Warlocks." The band consisted of guitarist and leader, Jerry Garcia who was a native of San Francisco. Phil Lesh, who was classically trained on the trumpet but actually played bass guitar for the band. Bob Weir, who played rhythm guitar, and Ron McKernan who played keyboards, harmonica, and also sung until he died in 1973. There were a number of other Grateful Dead members added to the band throughout the late 1960's and early 1970's to complete the band.

There were a number of members joining the band that helped give the band its unique sound and also helped the band's improvising techniques. The Grateful Dead constantly toured throughout their career, probably more than any other rock and roll band in history.

The also played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and the famous Woodstock concert in 1969 like most popular bands of the 1960's did.

Most of the bands albums included their live performances and most of their live performances were improvised. The Wall of Sound feature or technique helped the band develop their unique sound. The Wall of Sound consisted of 89 300-watt solid and three 350-watt vacuum tube amplifiers; in other words, the wall of sound was truly a wall of sound, a huge amount of sound. The wall of sound projected quality playback at 600 feet or a quarter of a mile.

The death of Jerry Garcia in August of 1995 marked the end of one of the longest running bands in history. Many "deadheads" felt this was the end of the popular subculture known as the "dead and their deadheads." Although the band stopped performing as the Grateful Dead, certain members continue to perform together.

The Grateful Dead showcased a variety of musical talents by incorporating a large variety of different music genres. They are not just another psychedelic band that tripped on LSD, they were a consist and talented band with a consistent and a huge fan base. The Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

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