As the Grateful Dead prepare to bid you goodnight with one final Fare Thee Well show at Chicago’s Soldier Field Sunday night, President Barack Obama, a longtime Chicagoan, has paid tribute to the long-running jam legends with a message congratulating the group on their 50th anniversary and enduring legacy.
“Here’s to fifty years of the Grateful Dead, an iconic American band that embodies the creativity, passion and ability to bring people together that makes American music so great,” Obama wrote. “Enjoy this weekend’s celebration of your fans and legacy. And as Jerry [Garcia] would say, ‘Let there be songs to fill the air,'” a nod to American Beauty‘s “Ripple.”
The presidential message, as well as a photo of the Dead’s Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and their respective families with the President during an Oval Office visit in 2009, reportedly appeared on the cover of Friday’s Fare Thee Well program, Relix writes.
Obama’s connection to the Grateful Dead members actually dates back to February 2008, when Weir, Lesh and Hart reunited for the first time in four years to perform at “Deadheads for Obama,” a Super Tuesday campaign event for the Illinois senator-turned-presidential candidate. In October 2008, the Dead once again reunited – this time with Kreutzmann – to play at an Obama rally in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.
After Obama won the 2008 presidential election, he invited the Dead to perform at one of his 10 inaugural balls in Washington, D.C. in January 2009.
The Grateful Dead will close out their Fare Thee Well run, featuring the surviving “core four” paired with Phish’s Trey Anastasio and keyboardist Bruce Hornsby, Sunday night. Although the first of the three Chicago Fare Thee Well performances was a classic, Saturday night’s concert, while patriotic, was marred by lost chemistry.