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To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Grateful Dead, the four original members — Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir
— will reunite at Chicago's Soldier Field, nearly 20 years to the day of the last Grateful Dead concert, which took place at the same venue. “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead" will occur over three nights on July 3, 4, and 5, 2015, marking the original members' last-ever performance together.
The band will be joined by Trey Anastasio (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), and Bruce Hornsby (piano). The group will perform two sets of music each night.
Over the span of their five-decade career, Grateful Dead served as a reflection of the refracted social, political, and cultural concerns in the United States. The group first garnered notoriety in 1965 while serving as the house band at Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests, where they developed their signature blend of music, melding elements of jazz, bluegrass, rock, and soul. While improvisation has long been the hallmark of Grateful Dead performances, the group’s original compositions, such as “Uncle John’s Band,” “Scarlet Begonias,” “Eyes of the World,” “Truckin,’” “Ripple,” and “Touch of Grey” are firmly entrenched in the Great American Songbook. Following the death of iconic guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1995 — which ended their formal performances as Grateful Dead — Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh, and Bob Weir continued their mission of musical innovation both together and individually, including a reunion performance at President Barack Obama’s 2008 mid-Atlantic inauguration ball.
Joining the original members of Grateful Dead are three musicians who have embodied the band’s spirit of musical innovation throughout their eclectic
careers. Guitarist Trey Anastasio is best known for his work as the principal songwriter and lead guitarist for touring juggernaut Phish, but he has also found time to score and arrange music for orchestras and Broadway productions such as “Best Musical” TONY nominee ‘Hands on a Hardbody.’ Pianist Bruce Hornsby had already won the first of his three Grammy Awards when he first guested with Grateful Dead in 1988. Following the death of the band’s
keyboard player Brent Mydland in 1990, Hornsby toured with the group into 1992, and he has maintained a collaborative relationship with its members ever since. Bay Area native and jazz keyboardist Jeff Chimenti joined Bob Weir’s Rat Dog in 1997, and has since worked on projects such as Phil Lesh & Friends, The Other Ones, The Dead, and Furthur.
“I have a feeling this will come out just right,” said Mickey Hart. “Can’t wait to
find out…HERE WE GO!”
Bill Kreutzmann added, "The Grateful Dead lived an incredible musical story and now we get to write a whole new chapter. By celebrating our 50th, we get to cheer our past, but this isn't just about history. The Grateful Dead always played improvisational music that was born in the moment and we plan on doing the same this round."
“It is with respect and gratitude that we reconvene the Dead one last time to celebrate - not merely the band's legacy, but also the community that we’ve been playing to, and with, for fifty years,” commented Phil Lesh. "Wave that flag, wave it wide and high…"
"Lookin' forward to this one, oh boy, you bet,” commented Bob Weir. “Let's see just how much fun we can have this 4th of July."
"Jerry Garcia was a great American master and the Grateful Dead are not just a genuine piece of musical history, but also an important part of American history,” said Trey Anastasio. “This is a band, born right at the beginning of electric rock, that took the American tradition and moved it forward. They really embodied the American concept of freedom, rolling around the country with a ginormous gang of people and the mindset that ‘you can come if you want, you can leave if you want. We don’t know what’s going to happen. All we know is we’re not looking back.’ What could be more American?”
"The great thing about these shows happening in Chicago, not only is it the amazing Americana of Chicago - the central location for all Dead Heads to
come gather - but it's also the last place the Grateful Dead played together in 1995,” said Trixie Garcia. “Being able to get everyone back together - the fans and the band members - for this special weekend, is a really big deal."