American rock band. The Grateful Dead were formed in the mid 1960s in San Francisco from the remnants of another band, "Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions". In 1965 the band made the stylistic switch from country music to rock music, with Jerry Garcia, Ron Pigpen McKernan and Bob Weir from the Jug Champions joined by Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh, and in 1967 - the band's breakthrough year - another percussionist, Mickey Hart. Playing originally as "The Warlocks", and later "The Grateful Dead", they became the de facto resident band of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters, with the early sound heavily influenced by Kesey's LSD-soaked Trips Festivals. Their musical influences varied widely with input from the psychedelic music of the era, combined with rhythm and blues, jazz, and country.
The early records reflected their live repertoire -- lengthy instrumental jams with guitar solos by Garcia, best exemplified by "Dark Star" -- but lacked the energy of the shows and did not sell terribly well. 1970s live album "LiveDead" did capture more of their essence, but commercial success did not come until the country influence came through, on "American Beauty" and "Workingman's Dead", both released in 1971. These records featured the band's laid-back acoustic musicianship and more traditional song structures.
Jerry played lead guitar and Phil played bass guitar. Bob, the youngest member of the group, played rhythm guitar. Pigpen played keyboards, harmonica and, was an inspirational vocalist until his death in 1973. Both Bill and Bob played drums, and a wide variety of other percussion instruments. Following Pigpen's death, several people played keyboards. In 1973, Keith Godchaux followed Pigpen on the keyboards, and brought his wife Donna Godchaux as a vocalist. Keith and Donna left the band around 1979, and Brent Mydland joined as keyboardist. Brent was the keyboardist until his death in 1990. Without missing a show, Vince Welnick joined as the keyboardist and stayed with the band until 1995. Bruce Hornsby also played on the grand piano on and off for some of the tours in the early 1990s.
Touring was the hallmark of the Grateful Dead. With the exception of 1975, the Grateful Dead toured regularly around the world from the mid 1960s until 1995, when the band was disbanded following the death of Jerry Garcia. Their numerous studio albums were generally collections of new songs that had been initially played in concert. The band was famous for their extended jams, and continuous sets of music where each song would blend into the next.
Many of their fans, commonly referred to as DeadHeads, would follow the band on tour. In contrast to many other bands, the Grateful Dead encouraged their fans to tape their shows. For many years, almost all of their shows would have dedicated taping sections. The band allowed sharing of tapes of their shows, as long as no profits were made on the sale of their show tapes.
Other bands that allow & encourage taping at their shows include: Phish,