The four surviving members of the Grateful Dead have retired the name the Other Ones in favor of "the Dead." And, while some Deadheads will see this move as sacrilege -- believing that the name died with Jerry Garcia in 1995 -- the actual Dead members (bassist Phil Lesh, drummers Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann and vocalist-guitarist Bob Weir) view the move as a reconnection with their legacy. The band also features Jimmy Herring on guitar, Jeff Chimenti on keyboards and Rob Barraco on keyboards and vocals.
Discussions to resurrect "the Dead," which was always shorthand for the band's full name, began following a hugely successful two-day music festival last August at the Alpine Valley Music Theater in East Troy, Wisconsin, which featured the Other Ones and the band members' individual side projects.
"Seven years ago, when Jerry passed, we made a conscious decision to retire the name Grateful Dead," the band members explained via a post on their Web site, dead.net. "We did so after some deep soul searching and out of our love and respect for what we had created together. After we played our first shows together at Alpine Valley last year, we were all profoundly affected by a sense of awe and connection that none of us had felt since we played with Jerry. It was a magical occurrence that no one could have anticipated, yet one we all want to embrace. To us, this was the Grateful Dead -- without Jerry."
The Other Ones used those two Wisconsin shows as a springboard for a successful fall tour and a big hometown New Year's Eve show at Oakland Arena with Hot Tuna and Medeski Martin and Wood.
"Finally, in the course of this winter, they talked and the end result was [they said], 'Well, it's not the Grateful Dead, because there is a guy missing, but we are the Dead,'" explains Dennis McNally, the band's longtime publicist/historian. "To celebrate that evolution they are throwing this little benefit party."
"This little benefit party" will be the hottest ticket in the Dead community this week. The Dead are making the name change official with a special small venue show at the Warfield Theater in San Francisco on Friday, a benefit for the band's regular assortment of worthwhile causes -- the Rex Foundation, the Unbroken Chain Foundation and the Further Foundation.
Playing the Warfield will also bring the post-Garcia era full circle. The Other Ones debuted on that stage on June 4, 1998, playing an evening of classics like "Jack Straw," "Box of Rain" and "Fire on the Mountain," and now will be put to rest at the same venue.
The Dead plan to tour the U.S. this summer.