The ’60s was a turbulent time, as anyone who lived through that period remembers. Throughout the era, music expressed that turbulence, giving voice to the hopes and fears of youth. Plenty of classic rock legends came out of this period, but one of the biggest remains the Grateful Dead-who soldiered on after the tragic loss of Jerry Garcia as simply “The Dead.”
The Grateful Dead are renowned as one of the most influential rock bands to come out of the counter culture-though in reality, their music is more based in country and folk music than rock ‘n’ roll. In either case, psychedelia was always a big part of their music, artwork and fan base. This made them representative of the hippie culture during the ’60s, and for decades afterwards, icons like the dancing bears and the skull with a lightning bolt have come to symbolize the values of that generation of listeners as much as the band itself.
They formed in 1965, and began a fruitful career that saw them producing a prodigious body of work. Between their 1967 debut album and 1975’s Blues for Allah, they turned out 11 albums, including a couple of live records that sold well due to their renown for having electrifying concerts. The band’s art colorful artwork became iconic in that time, though shortly after that time, the band’s quality began to suffer a bit. They largely released live albums over the next few decades.
By the late ’80s, they began to see a resurgent interest in the Grateful Dead, and much younger fans began showing up at their concerts. This proved to be a double-edge sword. It was a bigger crowd, but not the same crowd as the ones they drew in the ’60s. Crime, violence and heavy drug use unfortunately became hangers on to what the Dead originally meant to be simply a good time.
In 1995, the band’s vocalist, Jerry Garcia, was found dead. He had suffered from a litany of physical ailments throughout the ’80s and ’90s, in large part due to substance abuse that often required him to enter rehab centers. The wild lifestyle finally took its toll.
The band decided to continue on, and changed their name to The Other Ones. Soldiering on, they continued to draw large crowds well into the new millennium. In 2003, they decided to effectively take back the “Dead” moniker, though altered it slightly by dropping the “Grateful” from their name.
They have continued to be successful commercially, not only because of their music, but through extensive merchandising, selling tens of millions of dollars in Dead-related items every year. They have also take on some more high-profile gigs in recent years, such as performing at an inaugural ball for President Barack Obama in January of 2009. Fans of the band will be pleased to know their upcoming concerts should be easier than that to get in to. Just look for The Dead tickets online today.