serious analysis of the
people can't reach, and he can
pull them off right in
the flow of
playing. And now he's taken up playing
slide leads quite a bit, and that's neat, too, because that's another
context for me to play against. "Furthermore,
Bob has shared the vocal and songwriting chores with Garcia and generally
provided what very little on-stage communication occurs between the band
and its fiercely loyal, and still growing, legion of fans.
By 1965 the Beatles and Bob Dylan had helped pave the way for the return of electric instruments in popular music, and Garcia and Pigpen had been pressing the issue. Because Weir and other members of the band were then working at a music store, they had access to electric instruments and took the bait. After enlisting one of the store's drum students, Bill Kreutzmann, and getting the son of the store owner to play bass, they plugged in and became the Warlocks. When the work got to be too much for the bassist, Phil Lesh was recruited to take over, and all of the major elements locked into place. Two months later they made it official when they adopted the name the Grateful Dead.
Soon the band had a strong following in bars six nights a week. In 1966 novelist Ken Kesey engaged them as the house band for his Electric Kool Aid Acid Test (which later resulted in a Bantam book of the same name by Tom Wolfe), and the Dead learned to play in many interesting spaces. That was also the year they began to attract the kind of fans who would travel several thousand miles to see them play, and then camp out in the streets in front of the theater for days to ensure a spot close to the stage.
The Dead signed their first recording contract and then brought on a second drummer, Mickey Hart, in 1967. With the exception of the death of Pigpen in 1973, a three-year hiatus by Hart between 1971 and 1974, and the subsequent addition of Keith Godchaux and his wife Donna, the band's lineup remained intact until 1979, when Brent Mydland became the new keyboardist. When the Dead took a year and a half off between 1974 and 1976, Weir became involved with an existing band, Kingfish. This alliance lasted two years, through one studio and one live album. Weir's first solo album, Ace, appeared in 1972. It featured the rest of the Dead as his backup band. He had a hand in writing every tune on the album, with most co-writing every tune on the album, with most co-written by his boyhood friend, John Perry Barlow. Several of the songs remain fixtures in the Dead repertoire, including "Mexicali Blues," "Playing in the Band," and "Cassidy."
Bob's second LP, Heaven Help the Fool, was recorded in Los Angeles and released on Arista in 1978. The musicians were top studio players such as David Paich and Mike Porcaro (who were to become part of Toto). Again, the tunes were primarily Weir/Barlow collaborations. The Bob Weir Band, featuring Bobby Cochran on lead guitar, toured briefly after the LP was released. Weir's latest musical project  is Bobby & The Midnites, a group with Cochran, drummer Billy Cobham, and bassist Alphonso Johnson.
Meanwhile, the Grateful Dead roll on. Their 19th and most recent release, Reckoning. At the time Weir was preparing material for an upcoming Bobby & The Midnites album project and traveling between coasts doing concerts.
do you think is your role as a rhythm guitar player in a band?
is the most challenging part of your job with the Grateful Dead?
anybody have any particular responsibility to key the changes within the
long space jams that the Dead are noted for?
seems as if you guys do like to play in odd time signatures.