Formed in 1965, the Grateful Dead was an American rock band from Palo Alto, California. The group became famous for infusing an eclectic style of musical genres together — bluegrass, rock, country — and also for its long musical improvisations, or jams.
Despite his reluctance, lead guitarist and vocalist, Jerry Garcia, was widely recognized and often popularized as the lead spokesman for the band. His tie-dye shirts, wire-rimmed eyeglasses and bushy facial hair have become synonymous with band memorabilia and are nothing short of iconic.
Another major element of the Grateful Dead is its loyal community of fans. Comprised of a large core group of listeners that followed the Grateful Dead across different venues these fans were known as Deadheads. Deadheads defined a culture and sparked a phenomenon that is as unique as the Grateful Dead experience.
The Grateful Dead allowed fans to make live recordings of their shows and share these non-commercial recordings for free. The Dead even set aside taping sections where fans could set-up and record. With free music available the Grateful Dead sold many studio recorded albums, and made a lot of money from concerts and merchandise sales. Whether you were an actively touring Deadhead or just a casual listener that enjoys listening to the band’s legacy there are several online music archives you can connect with.
The Grateful Dead online music archives
Internet Archive features a Grateful Dead section boasting more than 8,976 free recordings that listeners can sift through. An awesome collection for any tapehead and it’s sure to keep you busy with countless hours of concert footage.
UC Santa Cruz
Next up, the University of California, Santa Cruz is home to the Grateful Dead Archive Online. It contains nearly 25,000 items and 50,000 scans to comb through and experience.
Library of Congress’s National Registry
It’s kinda like a big deal when the Library of Congress’s (LOC) National Registry acknowledges the Grateful Dead by selecting them to be preserved as cultural and artistic treasures for future generations. So, the LOC recognized that choosing one of the more than 2,300 concerts to include was a tough decision to make. They went with one that is arguably on of the best, the Barton Hall performance at Cornell University, May 8, 1977.
The website JerryGarcia.com is run by Garcia’s family and it’s an amazing tribute to the band and Jerry’s himself. According to Rolling Stone, the relaunch of this website gave it a digital overhaul that allows visitors to explore more than 15,000 hours of recorded music and 3,450 shows, plus information about 26 of Jerry’s bands.
There’s an enormous amount of information about the Grateful Dead on the Internet. Fortunately, there are also some outstanding online sources that are preserving their sounds for old and new listeners alike. All these portals combined are a definite confirmation that the Grateful Dead is an important part of our country’s heritage. Other bands have also followed the example set by the Grateful Dead and allow non-commercial recording and sharing of live concerts.
What are some of your favorite concerts that you’ve attended or listened to? Please share your stories with us.
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