|Birth name||Philip Chapman Lesh|
|Born||March 15, 1940|
Philip Chapman Lesh (born March 15, 1940) is an American musician and a founding member of the Grateful Dead, with whom he played bass guitar throughout their 30-year career.
After the band's disbanding in 1995, Lesh continued the tradition of Grateful Dead family music with side project Phil Lesh and Friends, which paid homage to the Dead's music by playing their originals, common covers, and the songs of the members of his band. Lesh operates a music venue called Terrapin Crossroads. He scaled back his touring regimen in 2014 but continues to perform with Phil Lesh & Friends at select venues. From 2009 to 2014, he performed in Furthur alongside former Grateful Dead bandmate Bob Weir.
Lesh was born in Berkeley, California, and started out as a violin player. While enrolled at Berkeley High School he switched to trumpet and participated in all of the school's music-related extracurricular activities. Studying the instrument under Bob Hansen, conductor of the symphonic Golden Gate Park Band, he developed a keen interest in avant-garde classical music and free jazz. After attending San Francisco State University for a semester, Lesh was unable to secure a favorable position in the school's band or orchestra and determined that he was not ready to pursue a higher education. Upon dropping out, he successfully auditioned for the renowned Sixth Army Band (then stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco) with the assistance of Hansen but was ultimately determined to be unfit for military service.
Shortly thereafter, he enrolled at the College of San Mateo, where he wrote charts for the community college's well-regarded big band and ascended to the first trumpet chair. (A snippet of tape of Lesh on trumpet at CSM can be heard on "Born Cross-Eyed" from the Grateful Dead's 1968 release Anthem of the Sun .) After transferring with sophomore standing to the University of California, Berkeley in 1961, he befriended future Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten before dropping out again after less than a semester. At the behest of Constanten, he studied under the Italian modernist Luciano Berio in a graduate-level course at Mills College in the spring of 1962; their classmates included Steve Reich and Stanford University cross-registrant John Chowning.Lesh’s inborn intelligence and curiosity, coupled with his considerable involvement with learning institutions and esteemed mentors, later led to his being one of the decided intellectuals of the Grateful Dead.
While volunteering for KPFA as a recording engineer during this period, he met bluegrass banjo player Jerry Garcia. Despite seemingly opposite musical interests, they soon formed a friendship. Following a brief period as a Post Office Department employee and keno marker in Las Vegas (initially rooming with Constanten, who soon departed to study under Berio and other members of the Darmstadt School in Europe); a second stint with the Post Office in San Francisco; and a collaboration with the likes of Reich, Jon Gibson and Constanten upon the latter's return from Europe under the auspices of the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Lesh was talked into becoming the bassist for Garcia's new rock group (then known as The Warlocks) in the fall of 1964. This was a peculiar turn of events, as Lesh had never played bass before. According to Lesh, the first song he rehearsed with the band was "I Know You Rider".He joined them for their third or fourth gig (memories vary) and stayed until the end.
Since Lesh had never played bass, it meant that to a great extent he learned "on the job", yet it also meant he had no preconceived attitudes about the instrument's traditional rhythm section role. In his autobiography, he credits Jack Casady (who was playing with Jefferson Airplane) as a confirming influence on the direction his instincts were leading him into.While he has said that his playing style was influenced more by Bach counterpoint than by contemporaneous rock and soul bass players, one can also hear the fluidity and power of a jazz bassist such as Charles Mingus or Jimmy Garrison in Lesh's work, along with stylistic allusions to Casady. Lesh has also cited Jack Bruce of Cream as an influence.
Lesh was an innovator in the new role that the electric bass developed during the mid-1960s. Contemporaries such as Casady, Bruce, James Jamerson and Paul McCartney adopted a more melodic, contrapuntal approach to the instrument; before this, bass players in rock had generally played a conventional timekeeping role within the beat of the song, and within (or underpinning) the song's harmonic or chord structure. While not abandoning these aspects, Lesh took his own improvised excursions during a song or instrumental. This was a characteristic aspect of the so-called San Francisco Sound in the new rock music. In many Dead jams, Lesh's bass is, in essence, as much a lead instrument as Garcia's guitar.
Lesh was not a prolific composer or singer with the Grateful Dead, although some of the songs he contributed or co-wrote (including "New Potato Caboose", "Box of Rain", "Truckin'", "Unbroken Chain" and "Pride of Cucamonga") are among the best known in the band's repertoire. Lesh's high tenor voice contributed to the Grateful Dead's three-part harmony sections in their group vocals in the early days of the band, until he largely relinquished singing high parts to Donna Godchaux (and thence Brent Mydland and Vince Welnick) in 1976 due to vocal cord damage from improper singing technique. In 1985, he resumed singing lead vocals on select songs as a baritone. Throughout the Grateful Dead's career, his interest in avant-garde music remained a crucial influence on the group.
In 1994, he was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead.
After the disbanding of the Grateful Dead, Lesh continued to play with its offshoots The Other Ones and The Dead, as well as performing with his own band, Phil Lesh and Friends.In 1999, he co-headlined a tour with Bob Dylan.
Additionally, Lesh and his wife Jill administer their charitable organization, the Unbroken Chain Foundation. The couple have two children together, Grahame and Brian. Both Grahame and Brian follow in their father's musical footsteps. The three frequently play together both publicly and privately, for example in an annual benefit concert grouping known as Philharmonia, dating to 1997, most recently on December 18, 2011 at a Christmas gig including Bob Weir and Jackie Greene at the Tenderloin Middle School cafeteria attended by 250 people.
In 1998 Lesh underwent a liver transplant as a result of chronic hepatitis C infection; since then, he has become an outspoken advocate for organ donor programs and when performing regularly encourages members of the audience to become organ donors (tracks identified as the "donor rap" on the live recordings of his various performances).
In April 2005, Lesh's book Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead ( ISBN 0-316-00998-9) was published. The book takes its name from the lyrics of a Grateful Dead song titled "Unbroken Chain," from their album From the Mars Hotel . "Unbroken Chain" is one of the few songs Lesh sings. This was the only book about the Grateful Dead written by a member of the band until 2015, when Bill Kreutzmann released his memoir, Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams and Drugs with the Grateful Dead.
On October 26, 2006, Lesh released a statement on his official website, revealing that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer—the disease that killed his father—and would be undergoing an operation in December 2006 to have it removed.On December 7, 2006, Lesh released a statement stating that he had undergone prostate surgery with the cancer being removed.
In 2009, Lesh went back on tour with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead. Following the 2009 summer tour Lesh proceeded to found a new band with Bob Weir named Furthur, which debuted in September 2009.
In 2012, Lesh founded a music venue called Terrapin Crossroads, in San Rafael, California. The venue officially opened on March 8, 2012, with a first of a run of twelve concerts by Phil Lesh and Friends.When not on tour, Lesh's sons, Grahame and Brian, serve as the house band at Terrapin Crossroads In addition to songs from the Dead catalog, Lesh played material by Mumford & Sons, Zac Brown Band and other contemporary acts with his sons.
Lesh began performing again with Phil Lesh and Friends in 2012. Furthur disbanded in early 2014 and, at age 74, Lesh ceased touring full time. Since then he has performed regularly at Terrapin Crossroads with various Phil Lesh and Friends line-ups as well as with the Terrapin Family Band. He also performs select show at venues throughout the United States, notably the Capitol Theatre, as well as at festivals.
He took part in the 2015 Fare Thee Well concerts and a short North American tour with Bob Weir in the spring of 2018.
In October 2015 Lesh announced that he had bladder cancer surgery. He stated that his prognosis was good and that he expected to make a full recovery.
In August 2019 Lesh announced that he had to undergo back surgery, in which he and his band had to cancel upcoming engagements at the Outlaw Music Festival, Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, and Dirt Farmers Festival. He is expected to make a full recovery.
The Other Ones:
Phil Lesh and Friends:
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and psychedelic rock; for live performances of lengthy instrumental jams; and for its devoted fan base, known as "Deadheads". "Their music", writes Lenny Kaye, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists." These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world". The band was ranked 57th by Rolling Stone magazine 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 recording of their May 8, 1977 performance at Cornell University's Barton Hall was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2012. The Grateful Dead has sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.
Phil Lesh and Friends is an American rock band formed and led by Phil Lesh, former bassist of the Grateful Dead.
Robert Hall Weir is an American musician and songwriter best known as a founding member of the rock band Grateful Dead. After the Grateful Dead disbanded in 1995, Weir performed with The Other Ones, later known as The Dead, together with other former members of the Grateful Dead. Weir also founded and played in several other bands during and after his career with the Grateful Dead, including Kingfish, the Bob Weir Band, Bobby and the Midnites, Scaring the Children, RatDog, and Furthur, which he co-led with former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh. In 2015, Weir, along with former Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, joined with Grammy-winning singer/guitarist John Mayer, bassist Oteil Burbridge, and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti to form the band Dead & Company. The band remains active.
Tom Constanten is an American keyboardist, best known for playing with Grateful Dead from 1968 to 1970.
Dark Star Orchestra is a Grateful Dead cover band formed in Chicago, Illinois. They serve as a tribute band to the rock group the Grateful Dead. Since 1997, the band has been "celebrating the Grateful Dead concert experience."
Joe Russo is an American drummer and half of the Benevento/Russo Duo. He has toured, performed and recorded with a number of other bands, including Cass McCombs, A Big Yes and a Small No, Fat Mama, Robert Walter's 20th Congress, Bustle In Your Hedgerow, Younger Brother, Shpongle, Tom Hamilton's American Babies, the Trey Anastasio/ Mike Gordon duo, the Gene Ween Band, and Furthur. He also plays with the Shpongle Live Band. In 2013 he formed a Grateful Dead tribute band called Joe Russo's Almost Dead.
The Dead was an American rock band composed of some of the former members of the Grateful Dead.
Deadheads for Obama is the name given to the February 4, 2008 reunion concert of three former members of the Grateful Dead at The Warfield in San Francisco. The show, performed one day before the Super Tuesday primary elections, was an act of support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, and featured former Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Mickey Hart, as well as John Molo, Jackie Greene, Steve Molitz, Mark Karan and Barry Sless.
The Grateful Dead were an American rock band known for their lengthy, partially improvised performances, as well as for a loyal fan base who often followed the band for several shows or entire tours. They disbanded in 1995, following the death of de facto bandleader Jerry Garcia. Since then remaining members have reunited for a number of concert tours and one-off performances, often in very different configurations. The following is a list of instances where former Grateful Dead members have reunited.
Furthur was a rock band founded in 2009 by former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. The original lineup also included John Kadlecik of the Dark Star Orchestra on lead guitar, RatDog's Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Jay Lane on percussion, and Joe Russo of the Benevento/Russo Duo on drums. Named after the famous touring bus used by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters in the 1960s, Furthur was an improvisational jam band that performed music primarily from the extensive Grateful Dead songbook, as well as their own original music and that of several other well-known artists. In addition to the original members, the band's lineup included backup vocalists Sunshine Becker of the a cappella ensemble SoVoSó and Jeff Pehrson of the folk rock bands Box Set and the Fall Risk.
John Kadlecik is an American guitarist. He was a founding member as the lead guitarist for the Grateful Dead tribute band, Dark Star Orchestra, in 1997. From 2009 to 2014 he performed with original Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh in Furthur.
Thomas Richard Hamilton Jr. is an American songwriter, musician, and producer best known as the lead vocalist and guitarist for the bands Brothers Past, American Babies, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, Bill Kreutzmann's Billy & the Kids, and Electron.
Sunshine Becker is an American singer who performed backing vocals for the band Furthur. Despite her maiden name, Garcia, she is not related to Jerry Garcia, an incorrect assumption made by some because of her involvement with Furthur, a post-Garcia incarnation of the Grateful Dead. Similarly, despite her first name, Sunshine, she is not to be confused with Sunshine Kesey, daughter of Ken Kesey and Carolyn Adams, Jerry Garcia's second wife.
Terrapin Crossroads is a music venue in San Rafael, California, founded by former Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh.
Lockn' Festival, formerly known as Interlocken Music Festival, is an annual four-day music festival held at Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, Virginia. The festival focuses primarily on jam bands and other music improvisation acts. Its inaugural event took place September 5–8, 2013, drew nearly 25,000 fans and featured notable groups such as Furthur, Trey Anastasio Band, Gov't Mule, Widespread Panic featuring John Fogerty, The String Cheese Incident featuring Zac Brown, and The Black Crowes.
Move Me Brightly is a music documentary film. It contains live performances of Grateful Dead songs from a 2012 concert by Bob Weir and a number of other musicians, called "Move Me Brightly: Celebrating Jerry Garcia's 70th Birthday". The film also includes interviews with some of the performers, other musicians, and members of the Grateful Dead extended family. It was released on DVD and Blu-ray in 2013.
Scott Guberman is an American keyboardist best known for his work with founding Grateful Dead bassist, Phil Lesh. After relocating to the Bay Area from the East Coast In 2015, Guberman was asked to join Phil Lesh's band "Communion". He now plays regularly as a member of Phil Lesh & Friends and with Lesh in other formations at Terrapin Crossroads.
Holly Bowling is a classically trained pianist best known for transcribing the music of Phish and the Grateful Dead into arrangements for solo piano. In 2014, Bowling published her "Jam Transcription" of Phish's famous rendition of "Tweezer" from Lake Tahoe on July 31, 2013. The success of Bowling's "Tahoe Tweezer" ignited her career as a musician. Her first solo tour began in July 2015. She has released two albums inspired by the music of Phish and the Grateful Dead and is now a well respected and established musician in the psychedelic rock and jamband music scene. Bowling is a frequent guest member of Everyone Orchestra, Phil Lesh & Friends, as well as being a part of Warren Haynes' Christmas Jam for the last two consecutive years. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Blue Note Jazz Club, The Massey Center, Lockn' Music Festival, Jam Cruise & The Peach Festival. She was named by Rolling Stone in November 2016 as one of "Ten New Artists You Need To Know Right Now."
Fillmore West 1969: February 27th is a live album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. As the name suggests, it was recorded on February 27, 1969, at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. It was produced as a four-disc vinyl LP, in a limited edition of 9,000 copies. It was released on April 21, 2018, in conjunction with Record Store Day.
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