Dead Bassist Phil Lesh

Dead Bassist Phil Lesh

Born March 15, 1940
Grateful Dead
Woodstock alum
…and much much more
Happy birthday to you!
The music never stopped
The Grateful Dead-Summer Solstice-Shoreline Amphitheatre 06/21/1989
Dead Bassist Phil Lesh
photo from:

We could simply say that Phil Lesh was the one and only bassist for the Grateful Dead and leave it at that. Is there more that you need to know?

He was born in Berkeley, California and his first instrument was the violin. In high school he switched to the trumpet.  He eventually met Jerry Garcia and they became friends. Five years later, Jerry asked Phil to join the Warlocks and play bass.

Since no one had instructed him on  how to play the bass, he developed his own style based on his musical preferences such as classical music and jazz.

His contributions to the band were limited vocally and he composed few songs, but his musicianship was always an integral part of any Dead show.

Because of technical issues, the Dead’s contribution to the lore of  the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was more symbolic than actual. They felt their performance was sub-par and so that has become the description. Having said that, the show was not terrible in any sense. The Dead simply didn’t have the chance to fly that night.

Phil Lesh discussed his early influences and more in the following video.

In 1994, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead.

 In 1995, after Jerry Garcia died, the Grateful Dead stopped as a band, but each of the members continued to play music. Sometimes together, sometimes as solo artists.

Dead Bassist Phil Lesh

Phil Lesh non-stop

Phil Lesh played with The Other Ones and The Dead, as well as his own band collection, Phil Lesh and Friends. In 1999, he co-headlined a tour with Bob Dylan.  Check the link below to see all of his credits since 1995.

In the spring of 1997, Phil and friends launched the Unbroken Chain Foundation, “a nonprofit organization which seeks to perpetuate the long-standing tradition of community service that has been the hallmark of the remarkable three-decade relationship between the Grateful Dead and its audience.”

Dead Bassist Phil Lesh
photo from the Terrapin Crossroads site

In 2012, Lesh founded a music venue called Terrapin Crossroads, in San Rafael, California. The venue officially opened on March 17, of that year.

Dead Bassist Phil Lesh

Still playing

To say Phil is a lifer is an understatement. He continues to tour


Dead Bassist Phil Lesh

Sylvester Stewart Sly Stone

Sylvester Stewart Sly Stone

Happy birthday

March 15, 1943

Band leader
Woodstock alum
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee

Sylvester “Sly Stone” Stewart was born on March 15, 1943, in Denton, Texas, and raised primarily in Vallejo, California. He sang with his family’s gospel group. As a teenager he sang doo wop.

Around 1964, he started as a disc jockey at R & B radio station KSOL. He became known for mixing white artists into the station’s soul music format.

At the same time, Stone began producing for the San Francisco-based label, Autumn Records. One of the hits Stone produced was Bobby Freeman‘s “C’on an Swim.”

 Of course it was the formation of his own band 1966, Sly & the Stoners which later merged with his brother Freddie’s band to become Sly and the Family Stone. The band consisted of  bassist Larry Graham, trumpeter Cynthia Robinson, saxophonist Jerry Martini, and drummer Greg Errico,

In October 1967, they released  their first album, “A Whole New Thing.”

It was their resoundingly successful performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair as well as that performance’s inclusion in the following year’s movie and album that brought stardom. Here’s the lesser known song “Love City”  from that amazing performance.

Sylvester Stewart Sly Stone

Sly Stone

Sylvester Stewart Sly Stone

That success also brought the availability of a lifestyle that offered as many dangers as it did comforts and Sly Stone in particular indulged in the former.

Sly and the Family Stone were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.

He became homeless for awhile, but in 2015 a Los Angeles Supreme Court jury awarded him $5 million after  it found that Gerald “Jerry” Goldstein and Glenn Stone, his former manager and an entertainment lawyer, had cheated Stone out of over a decade’s worth of royalties.

But in 2016, the appellate court said the trial judge erred when it did not treat the assignment of royalties from Stone — legally Sylvester Stewart — to his deceased former manager Ken Roberts as a proven.

In July 2016, a California appeals court granted Stone’s former manager a new trial. (Law360 article)

Sylvester Stewart Sly Stone


On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone

On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone is a documentary about Sly Stone, his absence from the music scene, and one man’s quest to find out what happened to the artist. It is directed by Michael Rubenstone. [Wikipedia]

Dance to the Streaming Music

From a 2018 Deadline Hollywood dot com article: A feature documentary about Sly and The Family Stone and their impact on the development of funk, soul, rock, and psychedelic music is on its way. Dance to the Streaming Music, from Winter State Entertainment, will include exclusive interviews and footage of Sly and the Family Stone and other artists – and their reversal of fortune in the wake the Music Modernization Act.

While the project hoped for a 2019 release, it hasn’t happened as of 2023.


And in February 2021 a Rolling Stone magazine article stated that, “Questlove will direct a new documentary about the career and legacy of Sly Stone.

Per a release, the as-yet-untitled project will follow “the story of the influential artist, king of funk, and fashion icon Sly Stone, a musician who was breaking all the rules at a time when doing so was extremely challenging, even dangerous. The pressure of explosive mainstream pop success and the responsibility of representing Black America forced him to walk the fine line of impossible expectations.”

In a statement, Questlove said: “It goes beyond saying that Sly’s creative legacy is in my DNA… it’s a black musician’s blueprint… to be given the honor to explore his history and legacy is beyond a dream for me.” [2023 DEADLINE article]



Before the movie, came his autobiography: ‘Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)’

Slate magazine’s review said of it, “Sly Stone, now 80 years old, has just published a memoir…. The first thing that must be said about Thank You is that it is a miracle that it exists at all. For decades Sly has been one of music’s greatest ghost stories, a man who had descended into a nightmarish spiral of drug abuse and effectively withdrawn from public life. From the 1980s on, pretty much every time that Sly was in the news, it was for something terrible: arrests for cocaine and gun possession, harrowing motorcycle accidents, and money troubles that reportedly left him homeless. There were a series of failed comeback attempts before he stopped even really attempting; public appearances were vanishingly rare, and tended to range from discombobulated to deeply disturbing.”

Sylvester Stewart Sly Stone