The Grateful Dead closed up shop after guitarist Jerry Garcia died in 1995, but the band's long, strange trip has continued down a variety of side projects and offshoots over the last 20 years, including a number of collaborations between the group's surviving members. That's all set to come to an end this summer, when the Dead's 'Core Four' reconvene for a series of 50th anniversary performances that are being billed as their last-ever shows together.
To prepare you for the Dead's "Fare Thee Well" celebration, we've rounded up some key bits of information about who's involved, what they've been up to since Garcia's passing, and where and when it's all going down — as well as how you can take part, even if you haven't been lucky enough to score tickets. Read on for everything you need to know about the Grateful Dead reunion shows!
Who's in the Band?
Surviving original members Mickey Hart (drums), Bill Kreutzmann (drums), Phil Lesh (bass), and Bob Weir (guitar) are back for one last hurrah, joined by Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), Bruce Hornsby (piano), and Trey Anastasio (guitar). Hornsby toured with the Grateful Dead from 1990-'92 following the death of keyboard player Brent Mydland, while Chimenti was a member of the post-Grateful Dead bands the Dead and Furthur. Anastasio, whose work with Phish owes a heavy debt to the Grateful Dead, has shared stages with all of the surviving members at various points over the last 16 years.
How Long Has It Been?
Not as long as you might think. The Grateful Dead dissolved following guitarist Jerry Garcia's death in 1995, but Hart, Kreutzmann, Lesh, and Weir formed a new band called the Other Ones in 1998, and that outfit toured with a handful of shifting lineups (including a couple of times with Hornsby) until 2003, when they changed their name to the Dead. That group last toured in 2009, after which Weir and Lesh started the offshoot band Furthur, which lasted until 2014.
What Have the 'Core Four' Been Up To?
Quite a bit, honestly. Weir fronts his RatDog band, Lesh leads Phil Lesh & Friends, and Hart and Kreutzmann have joined or started a handful of projects between them. Hart's solo career has found him making a number of forays into world percussion music, perhaps most notably with Planet Drum (1991) and Mickey Hart's Mystery Box (1996); Kreutzmann, meanwhile, has been heard with BK3, 7 Walkers, and Billy & the Kids.
When and Where Are the Shows?
The fun starts June 27 and 28, when the band's scheduled to lead a two-night stand at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. — as the band puts it, "just a dozen miles south" of where they started jamming at a Palo Alto music store 50 years ago — and concludes July 3, 4, and 5 at Soldier Field in Chicago, the site of the band's final show with Garcia on July 9, 1995.
How Can You Watch or Hear Them?
Demand for tickets has far outpaced supply, so unless you already have yours or are wealthy enough to absurdly overpay for them, your options are limited to streams and simulcasts. Fortunately, you have several to choose from: the Dead's SiriusXM station will broadcast the Soldier Field shows, and they'll also be simulcast to select theaters. For fans who want remote access to all five performances, there's the "Fare Thee Well" webcast, which is available for the package price of $99.95. The July 3-5 shows at Soldier Field will be available via Pay-Per-View on cable systems nationwide. Each PPV show begins with a countdown at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the live event from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Concert replays will also be available via Video On Demand on cable starting the day after each concert. And will these eventually be available on DVD and Blu-ray? You bet.
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