The Grateful Dead was an American rock band established in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The music group is well known for its eclectic taste, which merged features of rock, folk, country, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and psychedelic rock for live shows of extended instrumental jams, and for their dedicated fan base, named as "Deadheads". "Their music", writes Lenny Kaye, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists". These different impacts were distilled into a different and psychedelic whole that built the Grateful Dead "the revolutionary Godfathers of the jam band world". The band was positioned 57th by Rolling Stone publication in its The Greatest Artists of All Time issue. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and a tracking of their May 8, 1977, performance at Cornell University's Barton Hall was placed to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2012. The Grateful Dead have commercialized more than 35 million LPs global.
The Grateful Dead was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area in the middle of the rise of the counterculture of the 1960s. The founding musicians were Jerry Garcia (lead guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (rhythm guitar, vocals), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums). Members of the Grateful Dead had performed along in different San Francisco groups, including Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions and the Warlocks. 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. Drummer Mickey Hart and nonperforming lyricist Robert Hunter joined in 1967. With the exception of McKernan, who passed away in 1973, and Hart, who took time off from 1971 to 1974, the main of the band remained together for its complete 30-year history. The other official members of the group are Tom Constanten (keyboards; 1968–1970), John Perry Barlow (non-performing lyricist; 1971–1995), Keith Godchaux (keyboards; 1971–1979), Donna Godchaux (vocals; 1972–1979), Brent Mydland (keyboards, vocals; 1979–1990), and Vince Welnick (keyboards, vocals; 1990–1995). Bruce Hornsby (accordion, piano, vocals) was a visiting member from 1990 to 1992, as well as an invitee with the group on special occasion before and after the concerts.
After the loss of life of Garcia in 1995, past members of the group, along with other artists, toured as the Other Ones in 1998, 2000, and 2002, and the Dead in 2003, 2004, and 2009. In 2015, the four surviving core members marked the band's 50th anniversary in a series of shows that were billed as their last acts collectively. There have also been some spin-offs presenting one or more primary members, such as Dead & Company, Furthur, the Rhythm Devils, Phil Lesh and Friends, RatDog, and Billy & the Kids.