The four core surviving members of the Grateful Dead—Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir—will reunite for their final shows together at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 3, 4 and 5. The musicians will be joined by Trey Anastasio (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards) and Bruce Hornsby (piano) for the run, which is billed as “Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead.” The group will play two sets of music each night.
The performances will take place at the same stadium where the Grateful Dead played their last concerts on July 8 and 9, 1995. In the tradition of the original Grateful Dead Ticketing Mail Order, tickets will first be made available via a first-come, first-served mail order system. All additional ticketing information, as well as an announcement video from Jerry Garcia’s daughter Trixie Garcia, can be found at Dead50.net.
“The Grateful Dead lived an incredible musical story and now we get to write a whole new chapter,” Bill Kreutzmann said in a statement. “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.”
Phil Lesh added, “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…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.”
“I have a feeling this will come out just right,” said Mickey Hart. “Cant wait to find out…HERE WE GO!”
The members of the Grateful Dead have come together a few times since Garcia passed away in August of 1995. In 1998, Weir, Lesh, Hart and Hornsby toured as The Other Ones while Weir, Hart, Kreutzmann and Hornsby toured under the same moniker in 2000. Following a few years of tension, the core four members of the Dead reunited onstage on December 31, 2001 and toured nationally as The Other Ones the following year. The group eventually reverted their name to The Dead for their 2003 and 2004 runs.
After another few years apart, Weir, Lesh and Hart reunited for an Obama benefit in 2008, which paved the way for a formal The Dead tour with Kreutzmann in 2009. The Dead have not performed since their July 4, 2009 headlining appearance at the Rothbury Music Festival. Since that time, Lesh and Weir have continued to tour together with Furthur, while Hart and Kreutzmann have occasionally performed as The Rhythm Devils.
Trey Anastasio, who covered the Grateful Dead during Phish’s early days, first shared the stage with a member of the group when he joined Phil Lesh & Friends in April of 1999. He has played with all of the surviving original members of the band since then, and was part of the short-lived SerialPod supergroup with Kreutzmann and Phish bassist Mike Gordon. Notably, he also sat in with Furthur during one of their performances at the inaugural Lockn’ festival in 2013.
“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 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?”
Bruce Hornsby was a touring member of the Dead from 1990-1992, when he helped the band transition after the death of keyboardist Brent Mydland. In total, he performed with the band around 200 times, including sit-ins with the band in the ‘80s and mid-‘90s. He was also a member of the Dead spinoff The Other Ones during their 1998 and 2000 tours.
Jeff Chimenti, who comes from a jazz background, first entered the Dead’s orbit when he joined Bob Weir & RatDog in 1997. He was a member of The Other Ones in 2002 and remained with The Dead for all of their subsequent tours. He also played keyboards in Furthur, and has occasionally performed with Phil Lesh & Friends.
“Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead” was conceived as a partnership between Relix and Jambands.com publisher Peter Shapiro and Madison House Presents. Shapiro began his career by producing two documentaries about the Grateful Dead, and owning the Dead-inspired club Wetlands Preserve. Madison House Presents — lead by Don Sullivan, Jeremy Stein and Mike Luba — has focused on the live music experience by developing music festivals and tours. Sullivan, Stein, and Luba each cite the Grateful Dead as a primary influence both personally and professionally.