Category Archives: Woodstock Music and Art Fair

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

born September 11, 1943

Synopsis

The opening description of Mickey Hart from his site reads that he “is a pivotal innovator, chronicler, and influencer in percussion and rhythm. Best known as a drummer in the renowned expedition into the soul and spirit of rock and roll, The Grateful Dead, the multi-Grammy award winner is also an energetic painter, accomplished writer, restless explorer, and an acclaimed expert on the history and mythology of drums. A true original armed with an inventor’s audacious curiosity, Hart boldly seeks to break the rhythm code of the universe and investigate its deepest vibrations.”

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

To the beats…

Michael Steven Hartman was born in Brooklyn. Leah, his mother, raised Mickey. Leonard, his father, had left Leah before Mickey was born. Mickey and mom moved to Long Island (NY) soon after his birth. Later he attended Lawrence High School there,  but dropped out as a senior. He went to Europe and later joined the Air Force.

Hart was in the Air Force’s drum and bugle corps.  After the Air Force, Hart became a session drummer in NYC. While there, he received a letter from his father inviting him to work at his music store in San Carlos, California. Mickey went and it was a good thing for him, a great thing for us.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Rhythm Devils

Of the Grateful Dead members, Mickey first met Bill Kreutzmann who invited Hart to sit in with the band. On September 29, 1967 he did just that for the band’s second set.

Having two drummers was a rarity, but he and Kreutzmann became known as the Rhythm Devils because of their unique interplay.

Leonard Hart became the band’s money manager, but  in March, 1970, he and an estimated $70,000 to $150,000 of band money disappeared. A detective eventually located him and a jury found him guilty of embezzlement. Hart served a six month sentence; he and his son never saw each other again.

Lenny Hart died of natural causes on February 2, 1975. According to Dennis McNally “Mickey went to the funeral home, cleared the room, took out the snakewood sticks that had been his inheritance, played a traditional rudimental drum piece, “The Downfall of Paris,” on Lenny’s coffin, and split. 

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Hart leaves; returns

Because of his father’s actions, Hart left the band in February 1971 and in 1972 released Rolling Thunder. Not bitter about Lenny Hart’s crime, Jerry GarciaPhil Lesh, and Bob Weir all played on the album.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Hart returned to the Dead in October 1974 at Winterland for the band’s final shows on its tour. The Dead cut back touring in 1975 doing only four shows: one each in March, June, September, and October. Mickey did contribute to their 1975 studio album, Blues for Allah. In 1976 Hart was in again and continued to be in the band.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Mickey Hart

Outside on his own both during and after the Dead’s last show with its Jerry Garcia line-up, Hart remained and remains active.

You can check out his live appearance schedule here.

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart

Discography

  • 1976, Diga Rhythm band
  • 1979, music from the movie Apocolypse Now, much of which he contributed.
  • 1989, Music to Be Born By, an album based on the heartbeat of his son in the womb,
  • 1990 his first book, Drumming at the Edge of Magic
  • 1990, At the Edge album
  • 1991, both book and disc, Planet Drum,
  • 1998 Supralingua album
  • 2000, Spirit into Sound album
  • 2007 Global Drum Project, with Hart,  Zakir Hussain, Sikiru Adepoju, and Giovanni Hidalgo. It won the Grammy award for Best Contemporary World Music Album.
  • 2012 the same group on Hart’s Mysterium Tremendum,
  • 2013, Superorganism, with long-time Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.
  • 2017, RAMU

Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart
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RIP Dennis Greene

RIP Dennis Greene
Dennis Greene, top row, fourth from left, with Sha Na Na. He left to get a master’s degree at Harvard and a law degree at Yale. Credit via Photofest

RIP Dennis Greene

Hands down, the most unusual act at Woodstock  was Sha Na Na,  but their presence that Monday morning preceding Jimi Hendrix’s iconic performance proved that the festival was seriously fun.

Dennis Greene, one of the founders of Sha Na Na, died on Saturday. Bachelor’s from Columbia University. Master’s from Harvard University. Law degree from Yale.

Greene went on to become a vice president of Columbia Pictures and then a law professor, most recently at the University of Dayton.

Thank you Dennis!

Full NYT Obit

RIP Dennis Greene

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Mitch Mitchell

Mitch Mitchell

Mitch Mitchell

September 9, 1947 – November 12, 2008

Were you experienced?

Mitch Mitchell

     The first time I saw a picture of Mitch Mitchell was simply because he was to the right of Jimi Hendrix on the cover of the Experience's Are You Experienced album.
       In my simple teenage view, simply looking at that cover made me experienced. Those colors with that oddly bulging picture and unnaturally colored trees. After listening to the album, I thought for sure I was experienced. Of course Hendrix's guitar was the star. I'd never heard anything like it, but the drumming ("What's his name? OK, Mitch Mitchell.") was equally unearthly. 

John Ronald “Mitch” Mitchell

     Like many drummer before and many drummer since, Mitch Mitchell played in a variety of bands in a variety of ways before hitting the spotlight with Jimi Hendrix.

     Even a step further back in his life, Mitchell was a child actor in several British productions.  It was while still in school and working in a drum store that Mitchell began playing what became his life's work. 

     He worked with bands as a member and worked with bands as a studio drummer. He even played with the Who between Doug Sandom's departure and Keith Moon's arrival. Part of his early experience included developing a love of jazz drumming, particularly that of was John Coltrane's drummer, Elvin Jones.

Jimi Hendrix Experience

     That developing ability attracted the attention of others. particularly Chas Chandler, ex-Animal bassist and the person who brought Hendrix to England to create a band around him.

     Mitchell was part of the Experience throughout it's brief time. He became a part of the band on October 6, 1966 and stayed with them until it's dissolution in June 1969. Mitchell remained with Hendrix when Hendrix developed the ever-changing line-up and band names until Hendrix's death in 1970.

Mitch Mitchell

      Following Hendrix's death, Mitch Mitchell remained active as a drummer, but never again would the spotlight be upon him.  His credit list after 1970 are mainly on Hendrix recordings that obviously preceded Jimi's death (see: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/mitch-mitchell-mn0000134577/credits)

     In 2008, he was part of the Experience Hendrix Tour that featured  Billy Cox, Buddy Guy, Jonny Lang, Robby Krieger, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Eric Johnson, Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo, Aerosmith's Brad Whitford,Hubert Sumlin, Chris Layton, Eric Gales, and Mato Nanji. 

     Mitchell died in his sleep in Portland, Oregon five days after the tour ended.  He is buried in Seattle.

     Here is an excellent video about Mitchell:

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