Amidst the the growing counter-culture scene in the Bay Area, The Grateful Dead were founded by Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Ron McKernan, and Bill Kreutzmann in Palo Alto in 1965. Their eclectic music formed the archetype for the “Jam Band” genre, combining elements from rock, blues, folk, country, bluegrass, and psychedelic music into a improvisational performances. Over the years the Dead released 22 recorded albums, although they were most famous for their improvisational jams at concerts, earning them a cult-like following of self-proclaimed “Dead Heads” who would follow the band from concert-to-concert throughout the band’s career.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and they’ve sold more than 40 million albums in total; all that with only one top 40 hit (“Truckin”), and one Top 10 hit (“Touch of Grey”) that came near the end of the band’s run, shortly before Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995. Since then various incarnations of the Dead have continued to tour, although a 2015 tour was said to be the band’s last.
In 2015 Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann started a new group called Dead and Company with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and former Dead keyboardist Jeff Chimenti which Weir has said may have a future in the studio and will continue to tour in coming years.
In 2008, The Grateful Dead named the University of Southern California McHenry Library as the home of their complete archival history, including their recorded music, live bootlegs, and artworks. The collections are are now housed at UC Santa Cruz.