Happy Birthday, Bill Kreutzmann

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014
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Happy Birthday, Bill Kreutzmann

It’s Bill Kreutzmann’s 68th birthday today, a man who, although his profile has never been as high as those of his bandmates, was – along with Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and Bob Weir – part of the original fivesome that founded The Warlocks in 1964. And if you’ve never heard of the Warlocks…well, just by virtue of the guys who were in the band, you’ve probably already figured out they soon changed their name to The Grateful Dead.

Born in Palo Alto, California in 1946, Kreutzmann started playing drums when he first entered his teens. Although his sixth grade music teacher told him that he couldn’t keep a beat, Kreutzmann had a close encounter with author Aldous Huxley, who encouraged him to keep drumming during a visit to Kreutzmann’s prep school. While we don’t know for sure if that was the deciding factor in Kreutzmann continuing to tough it out behind the kit and find his groove, it sure does make the Dead’s eventual ties to the psychedelic scene a little more understandable.

Kreutzmann was part of The Grateful Dead from start to finish, playing at every one of their 2,300 shows, and when Garcia’s death in 1995 led to the band’s inevitable dissolution, he continued to play alongside Lesh, Weir, and Mickey Hart in The Other Ones and The Dead while also venturing into other musical endeavors, including the bands Backbone, The Trichromes, and 7 Walkers.

To celebrate Mr. Kreutzmann’s birthday, we’ve put together a playlist featuring some of the best studio recordings by The Grateful Dead. Yes, we know, they were always better live than on their albums...but the albums were still pretty good, too.