The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long musical improvisation. "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". They were ranked 57th in the issue The Greatest Artists of all Time by Rolling Stone magazine. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and their Barton Hall Concert at Cornell University (May 8, 1977) was added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry. The Grateful Dead have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.
The Grateful Dead was founded in the San Francisco Bay Area amid the rise of counterculture of the 1960s. The founding members were Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals), Bob Weir (guitar, vocals), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards, harmonica, vocals), Phil Lesh (bass, vocals), and Bill Kreutzmann (drums). Members of the Grateful Dead had played together in various San Francisco bands, including Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions and the Warlocks. Lesh was the last member to join the Warlocks before they became the Grateful Dead; he replaced Dana Morgan Jr., who had played bass for a few gigs. With the exception of McKernan, who died in 1973, the core of the band stayed together for its entire 30-year history. Other longtime members of the band include Mickey Hart (drums 1967–1971, 1974–1995), Keith Godchaux (keyboards 1971–1979), Donna Godchaux (vocals 1972–1979), Brent Mydland (keyboards, vocals 1979–1990), and Vince Welnick (keyboards 1990–1995).