Grateful Dead

Tagged: Music

US rock band, formed in 1965 in San Francisco and comprising many musicians, although most identified with lead guitarist and bandleader Jerome "Jerry" Garcia (1942-1995). The band's music, though guitar-heavy, was multi-instrumental, rooted in blues, rock and jazz, and often improvisational in character. It was a music, by general consensus, best showcased in the band's many live shows. To describe them as "hippy" or "psychedelic", whilst in a sense true, captures none of the often breathtaking grace and beauty of the Grateful Dead at their best. The long track "Dark Star" (released on Live/Dead, 1969) includes science-fictional, though oblique, lyrics; but where in written form these may come across as frantic or garbled ("spinning a set the stars through which the tattered tales of axis roll about the waxen wind of never") the song itself is musically spacious, flexible, fine-worked and moving. The track "Standing on the Moon" (on Built to Last, 1989), about an astronaut observing human warmaking from his lofty vantage, is minor Dead. Gwyneth Jones includes several references to Grateful Dead music in her Arthurian "Bold as Love" series of novels (2001-2006), including naming one main character Aoxomoxoa, the title of the band's 1969 third studio album. [AR]


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