The Grateful Dead Essay Research Paper I

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The Grateful Dead Essay, Research Paper I have chosen to do my report on the Grateful Dead. They were a rock and roll band from the sixties that stayed popular and still influenced rock and roll until 1995 when the lead singer, Jerry Garcia, died and the band dissolved. The Dead remained popular for so long because of the style of their live concerts that made people keep coming back. In 1959 when Jerry Garcia was thrown out of the army, he picked up his guitar and started playing music with his friend Robert Hunter. Robert Hunter would later become the Grateful Dead’s non-performing song writer. Robert and Jerry lived in San Francisco, California. On one New Year’s Eve party, Garcia and Hunter met Ron “The Pig Pen” McKerman, who played harmonica, keyboard and was

also a vocalist. Pig Pen was the janitor at the music shop where Jerry gave banjo lessons. During the concert of that night, they also met guitarist Bob Weir and together they formed a band called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions. A few weeks later Bob Matthews,who later became a part of the Grateful Dead electronics and recording family,joined the group along with John “marmaduke” Dawson,who later joined the New Riders of the Purple Sage. Work was scarce for the Jug Champions until Dana Morgan, owner at the store where Jerry taught banjo and Pig Pen worked,provided the money and equipment for them to become electric. After they had become electric they renamed the group the Warlocks. Dawson and Matthews were soon to leave and they were replaced by drummer Bill Sommers

(Krentemann) and Phil Lesh, who was a trumpet player who learned to play bass guitar in a very amazing two weeks just to get the spot. This completes the now familiar Dead line up. The Warlocks played their first concert in July 1965 and they played pretty straight rock and roll music until the “acid tests.” In early 1965 a state hospital in the Palo Alto area was conducting experiments with hallucinogenic drugs. This was still legal at the time. Robbert Hunter and others volunteered to try them. Before long the whole music group was participating in “acid tests” and their music became more diffused, the numbers stretched out and the volume turned up. Jerry Garcia became known as “Captain Trips” and they played at the Ken Kesey organized trips festival. In February

1966 the Warlocks had to change their name due to threats by an older group with the same name. Legend has it, according to ,”during a acid trip Garcia opened a dictionary and pointed to the word “grateful” on one page and the word “dead” on another”, and the Grateful Dead were born. In June of 1966 the Grateful Dead moved to 710 Haight – Ashbury district of San Francisco, California. This was the center of the counter culture that is known by many as “Hippie”. The group was about to explode in a blaze of publicity. The Dead were playing for free at parks and a place called the Family Dog. Jerry Garcia was the group’s guru figure despite his denials. After a while, word started to spread about the Grateful Dead and their incredible sound. By 1967, the summer

of love, they were regulars at the Avalon and Carousel Ballrooms and the Filmore West. In 1969 the Dead packed their bags and headed to Woodstock, New York. This outdoor concert would go down in history as the largest outdoor rock concert. On August 16, 1969, the Grateful Dead, along with many famous rock and roll groups, played in front of thousands of people. From 1965 and on,there has been over 3,000 Grateful Dead concerts, that range from San Francisco to the pyramids in Egypt. After each of them, at least one more person became obsessed with the band and became part of the group known as the “deadheads”. According to the Dead heads “there is nothing like a Grateful Dead concert”. The Grateful Dead have many fans that follow them from concert to concert; these fans