The Grateful Dead: The Epitome of Improvisation and the Ultimate Cult Band of Their Time
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They are widely known as the psychedelic pioneers in all of rock music. They have played more than 2,000 live concerts and, although selling only 250,000 copies of their records, they created the jam band movement that featured bands playing a variety of genres, paving the way for other cult bands. The Grateful Dead is regarded as one of the most famous free-form bands of their time. As famous as the band itself were the bands’ connection with hallucinogenic drugs and their groupies of Deadheads. The band has created a style all their own and their music emphasized live concert, togetherness, and the hippie lifestyle.
Jerry Garcia was just 15 years old when he picked up the guitar for the first time, and moved to Palo Alto when he was 18. There he met Robert Hunter whom he would later have a long-standing friendship with. Two years later in 1964, Garcia became a member of Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, along with Ron McKernan, Bob Matthews, John Dawson, and Bob Weir. Their band mainly played folk and bluegrass music. They later changed their name to The Warlocks and debuted with electric instruments and their lineup now included two more members with Phil Lesh on bass and Bill Kreutzmann on drums. Their first debut was in July of 1965 where they soon became the house band for Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests. This is where a series of public LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide) parties were held before its criminalization, which supplied the band with large amounts of this drug. This is what made the band notorious for their connections with hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD, marijuana, and heroin.
By the end of 1965, The Warlocks had changed their name to The Grateful Dead which is the name of an Egyptian prayer that Garcia had disc...
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...luenced them, with Jerry Garcia being particularly interested in the electric guitar. Another influence that Garcia mentioned was music, poetry, and art. They have also influenced countless bands, such like Phish, String Cheese Incident, and Blues Traveler. They also had a big effect on “Deadheads”, the white young adults who had emulated the philosophy of the hippie movement with tie-dye clothing, drugs, and The Grateful Dead’s music.
The Grateful Dead is by far the epitome of improvisation and the ultimate cult band of their time. Not only have they influenced other bands like them, but they have gained the much deserved respect of their fans, and the music community. Although Jerry Garcia is no longer here to play like how he has his whole life, he is survived by his fellow remaining band members and the generations who still know what The Grateful Dead once was.