Brent Mydland (Grateful Dead)

Brent Mydland, German-American keyboard player (Grateful Dead, Bobby and the Midnites, and Silver) was born 21 October 1952.The 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, and for live performances of long musical improvisation. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead “the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world.” They were ranked 57th in the issue The Greatest Artists of all Time by Rolling Stone magazine. They 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.Phil Lesh and Jerry Garcia were brought together by Gert Chiarito in 1964 to perform on The Midnight Special. The Grateful Dead began their career as the Warlocks, a group formed in early 1965 from the remnants of a jug band called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, although The band changed its name after finding out that another band of the same name had signed a recording contract.The name “Grateful Dead” was chosen from a dictionary, The definition being that there was “the soul of a dead person, or his angel, showing gratitude to someone who, as an act of charity, arranged their burial.”

In 1967 The Grateful Dead performed at the Avalon Ballroom by the San Francisco Hare Krishna temple, along with 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 followed by The band’s first LP, The Grateful Dead, was released in 1967. Sadly Mickey Hart quit the Grateful Dead in February 1971, leaving Kreutzmann once again as the sole percussionist. Hart rejoined the Grateful Dead for good 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. Sadly Following the Grateful Dead’s “Europe ’72″ tour, Pigpen’s health deteriorated drastically due to his excessive alcohol consumption and his final concert appearance was June 17, 1972 at the Hollywood Bowl, in Los Angeles; before he died in 1973 of complications from alcohol abuse.The Grateful Dead formed their own record group, Grateful Dead Records & Later that year, they released their next studio album, the jazz influenced Wake of the Flood. It became their biggest commercial success thus far.During the late 1970s the band went back to the studio, and the next year released another album, Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel.

Not long after that album’s release however, the Grateful Dead decided to take a hiatus from live touring so that its members could focus on their solo careers. This hiatus was short lived, though, as they resumed touring in 1976, and released another 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. Performances were vigorous and as a result, every show exceeded its maximum audience capacity. Sadly the band’s “high time” came to a sudden halt when Mydland died after the summer tour in 1990. So Vince Welnick, joined on keyboards and vocals and Bruce Hornsby joined the band as the pianist 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 also many contemporary incarnations of the Dead, with the most prominent touring acts being Furthur and Phil Lesh & Friends.

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