Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead)
Phil Lesh the Bass Player with the Grateful Dead was born March 15 1940. Grateful Dead were fomed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area and were known for their unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock. These various influences made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world.” They were ranked 57th rolling Stone’s Greatest Artists of all Time poll and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University was added to the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry.The founding members of the Grateful Dead were Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums).
Lesh was the last member to join the Warlocks before they became the Grateful Dead; he replaced Dana Morgan Jr., who had played bass for a few gigs. With the exception of McKernan, who died in 1973, the core of the band stayed together for its entire 30-year history. The Grateful Dead began their career as the Warlocks, in early 1965 from the remnants of a jug band called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, although The band later changed their name to The Grateful Dead, I.e “the soul of a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, arranged their burial.”One of the group’s earliest major performances in 1967 was at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple, where The Grateful Dead performed alongside the Hare Krishna founder Bhaktivedanta Swami, poet Allen Ginsberg, bands Moby Grape and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, donating proceeds to the Krishna temple.
The band’s first LP, The Grateful Dead, was released in 1967. 1970 included tour dates in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the band performed at The Warehouse for two nights. Mickey Hart quit the Grateful Dead in February 1971, leaving Kreutzmann once again as the sole percussionist. However Hart rejoined the Grateful Dead in October 1974. Tom “TC” Constanten was added as a second keyboardist from 1968 to 1970, while Pigpen also played various percussion instruments and sang. Following the Grateful Dead’s “Europe ’72″ tour, Pigpen’s health seriously deteriorated and he could no longer tour with the band. His final concert appearance was June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles and died in March, 1973 of complications from alcohol abuse. The Grateful Dead formed their own record group, Grateful Dead Records & released the album, the jazz influenced Wake of the Flood in 1973 and in 1974 they released the classic album, Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel. Then the Grateful Dead decided to take a break from live touring, however This hiatus was short lived, and they resumed touring in 1976, and released the album Terrapin Station in 1977. During the 1980s the bands sound transformed. Sadly though Garcia’s health began to decline. His drug habits caused him to lose his liveliness on stage. After kicking his drug habit in 1985, he slipped into a diabetic coma for several days in July 1986. After he recovered, the band released In the Dark in 1987, which resulted as their best selling studio album release, and also produced their only top-10 chart single, Touch of Grey. Inspired by Garcia’s improved health and a successful album, the band’s energy and chemistry peaked in the late 1980s and 1990 and they enjoyed a resurgence in their popularity.
Sadly The band’s “high time” came to a sudden halt when Mydland died in 1990. So Vince Welnick, joined on keyboards and vocals and Bruce Hornsby joined the band on Piano and vocals on September 15, 1990.The fans of the Grateful Dead, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, are known as “Deadheads” and are known for their dedication to the band’s music. From 2003 to 2009 former members of the Grateful Dead, along with other musicians, toured as The Dead and The Other Ones. There are many contemporary incarnations of the Dead, with the most prominent touring acts being Furthur and Phil Lesh & Friends and although Jerry Garcia, Brent Mydland and Bruce Welnick have passed away, the Grateful Dead have a cult following and remain popular and during 2015 The Grateful Dead played a final series of concerts on the Fare thee Well tour to celebrate 50 years before finally disbanding.