Grateful Dead

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Throughout history there have been many musical "influences". One extremely important influence to modern music is The Grateful Dead.

The group was formed in 1965 by bluegrass - enthusiast Jerry Garcia on guitar and vocals, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan on vocals and organ, Bob Weir on guitar and vocals, classical music student Phil Lesh on bass and vocals, and Bill Kreutzmann on drums. From the beginning, they brought together a variety of influences, from Garcia's country background to Pigpen's feeling for blues (his father was an R&B radio DJ) and Lesh's education in contemporary serious" music. Add to that, the experimentation encouraged at some of the group's first performances at novelist Ken Kesey's "acid test" parties-multimedia events intended to replicate (or accompany) the experience of taking the then-legal drug LSD-and you had a musical mixture of styles often played with extended improvisational sections that could go off in nearly any direction. The band signed to Warner Brothers in 1967, experiencing some difficulties early on with the restrictions of standard recording practices and the company's interest in producing a conventionally commercial product. As a result, the group's first few albums were somewhat tentative but showed promise for the future, especially with the key additions of Mickey Hart as a second drummer in 1967 and Garcia's old friend Robert Hunter as the band's lyricist. The Dead finally hit their stride with the release of Live Dead, a double album, in 1969. (They were always more comfortable on stage than in the studio.) Two studio albums in 1970, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty, found them exploring folk-rock and more tightly constructed song forms and, along with extensive touring, won them a much larger audience. In the second half of the '70s, the Dead recorded a series of commercially - oriented albums for Arista, then concentrated on roadwork for the better part of the '80s. In the Dark, released in 1987, was their first studio album in seven years. It sold a million copies and produced the band's first Top Ten hit in "Touch of Grey."

One of the aspects of the Grateful Dead that made them stand out was their mixing of several different kinds of music. As mentioned earlier, the Dead's music is a hearty mixture of bluegrass, classical, and good old-fashioned rock...

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...ot;, is Blues Traveler. On the scene since 1984, John Popper (lead vocals and unbelievable harmonica) has lead this band up from the depths of the local party circuit to having a multi-platinum album (1994's Four). Also with the same blues-rock feeling, deadheads are sure to flashback to yesteryear with one of Popper's unreal harmonica riffs. Traveler has also touched millions of college kids and drawn them in with their unique musical style, just as the Dead were reeling them in in the 60's and 70's.

The Grateful Dead's immense musical influence has by far been an underlying factor in many bands that we would consider influential today. Bob Dylan considered Jerry to be like an older brother. The Rolling Stones, The Allman Brothers, and countless other legends have played under the Dead's tutelage. This only shows that they have so greatly influenced the world of music as we know it today. Just as they were influenced to create their own unique style, they are still influencing bands today, thirty-four years after it all began. The Grateful Dead were certainly an implausible influence over the music world today. There is only one thing left to say.

We are truly Grateful.
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