Tag Archives: Grateful Dead

Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

Woodstock alum
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Happy birthday
March 19, 1944
(above: Tom playing “Mountains of the Moon” at Wofford College on Jan 13, 2009)
Tom Constanten
On Wednesday, August 29, 2012, former Grateful Dead keyboardist, composer and piano instructor Tom Constanten told stories from his long career and performed as part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum’s Hall of Fame Series.
Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

Tom Constanten


Being a keyboardist with the Grateful Dead has often been unlucky.  Ron “Pigpen” McKernan (age 27), Keith Godchaux (32), Brent Mydland (37) and Vince Welnick (55) all died shortly after or during their time with the Dead. 


Tom Constanten is happy to have escaped that club.


Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

Becoming Dead


                   According to the Grateful Dead site,Phil Lesh was standing in line at Cal Berkeley’s music department in 1961 when he overheard a young man, Tom Constanten by name, remark that Music stopped being created in 1750 and began again in 1950. They shook hands, and became friends for life. Shortly after, T.C. persuaded Phil to apply for a special class in electronic composition at Mills College with Luciano Berio, which would become one of the touchstones of Lesh’s life. As the Grateful Dead emerged and began to create, Phil returned the favor to T.C., who became the Dead’s advisor/keyboard creative spirit, altering normal piano sounds by inserting combs, Dutch dimes, and a gyroscope into the body of the keyboard, as they recorded the masterpiece avant garde albums Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa. He joined the touring band in November 1968, and amicably departed in January 1970, feeling that he was underamplified … and in so doing avoided the curse of the Dead keyboard seat.”



Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

After Dead


 From the All Music site: “After the Dead, Constanten  spent the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s mostly in the Bay Area, creating odd compositions, teaching piano, and playing shows around the periphery of the Dead scene. He composed for the theater with some success, including the off-Broadway play Tarot… ultimately winning a silver medal in the New York Critics’ Circle Poll. In 1986, he was an artist in residence at Harvard University. 


Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

Neck injury

In August 16, 2016 he posted at his Facebook page, “Fell down and broke my neck last Wednesday. Just like they warned me about as a kid.
I’d driven up to the Post Office at the top of the hill to mail off a bill, and, knowing there was heavy rain in the forecast, figured it would be better to mail it off inside. I parked the car, and on the way in a bit of uneven pavement tripped me up. I fell, face first, onto the concrete.
I am so very grateful for the woman who spotted me right away and called 911.”


Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

Recovery and continued touring


He has recovered and in July 2017 returned to Bethel, NY to visit the site of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts with his sister Susan and son Jeff.


Briefly Dead Tom Constanten

 


He has released five albumsNightfull of Diamonds (1992), Morning Dew (1993), Grateful Dreams (2000), 88 Keys to Tomorrow (2002), and Moved to Stanleyville (2006) and continues to tour.


Briefly Dead Tom Constanten
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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: http://www.philzone.com/leshlinks/phil-lesh-bio.html

               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 Jerrry 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, Dead and Company, 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 and Bob Wier are touring this spring:


Dead Bassist Phil Lesh


Dead Bassist Phil Lesh
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San Francisco Human Be In

San Francisco Human Be In

Turn on, tune in, and drop out.

San Francisco Human Be In
poster by artist Rick Griffin

On January 14, 1967: the San Francisco Human Be In was held in Golden Gate Park. It was a prelude to San Francisco’s Summer of Love, which made the Haight-Ashbury district a symbol of American counterculture and introduced the word “psychedelic” to suburbia.


San Francisco Be In
another poster

The San Francisco Human Be In exhibited the ideas of the 1960s counterculture: personal empowerment, cultural and political decentralization, communal living, ecological awareness, higher consciousness (with the aid of psychedelic drugs), acceptance of illicit drug use, and radical liberal political consciousness. The hippie movement developed out of disaffected student communities around San Francisco State and Berkeley and in San Francisco’s beat generation poets and jazz hipsters, who also combined a search for intuitive spontaneity with a rejection of “middle-class morality”. Allen Ginsberg personified the transition between the beat and hippie generations.


The San Francisco Oracle announced The San Francisco Human Be In on the cover of its fifth issue. The headline called it “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In”.


A new California law banning the use of LSD that had come into effect on October 6, 1966 spurred the idea. The speakers at the rally included Timothy Leary in his first San Francisco appearance, who set the tone that afternoon with his famous phrase “Turn on, tune in, drop out,” Allen Ginsberg, who chanted mantras, and other counterculture gurus including comedian Dick Gregory, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Jerry Rubin.


Music was provided by several local bands including Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Quicksilver Messenger Service.


“Underground chemist” Owsley Stanley provided massive amounts of his “White Lightning” LSD, specially produced for the event, to the gathered masses.


San Francisco Human Be In


A great first-hand account from Rosie McGee [from: Brandelius, Jerilyn Lee, “Grateful Dead Family Album — p 40. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1989.]


 “The Great Human Be-In” – afternoon concert…Best of all were the glorious free concerts in the Panhandle — a flatbed truck, makeshift electricity, food, wine, friends, sunshine, and some wonderful bands who hadn’t hit the big time yet. At first it seemed amazing that we knew by name so many of the hundreds gathered; but as the months went by, our awareness of a larger community grew until it peaked that fine day in January of 1967, the day of the tribal Stomp at the Polo Fields to be known as the “Human Be In.” We heard it through the grapevine, and a half dozen of us started early that morning to walk the couple of miles to the park. As we walked along Lincoln Avenue, we noticed other groups of neighbors walking in the same direction. More joined in off side streets, and by the time we turned north into the park, we were a large, laughing group. A half mile later, we were a horde and as the Be-In took shape through the day, we were awed and thrilled as the Polo Fields filled up with more than 20,000 people. It was a day of innonence and hope; and in many ways the last moments of naivete for a neighborhood that had just gone public.


And, of course, the Dead recorded their performance: Morning Dew ; Viola Lee Blues ; Good Morning Little Schoolgirl >>>


Grateful Dead at the 1967 Human Be-In

San Francisco Human Be In

San Francisco Human Be In

 

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