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Phil Lesh is best known as being a founding member and bass player for the 1960s rock group Grateful Dead.
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American musician Phil Lesh was born on March 15, 1940, in Berkeley, California. Exposed to classical music early, Lesh played violin at age 8 and switched to trumpet at age 14. He took private lessons in high school and explored avant-garde classical and jazz music. In 1962, he met bluegrass banjo player Jerry Garcia and later joined his band, the Warlocks,
In a way, it's my way of dealing with, finding closure with Grateful Dead music, and giving thanks in a way to Jerry and Bob and all the guys in the band for making up this wonderful music.
So what it boils down to, in my humble opinion, is that we need to support the arts in schools, and at every other level in the education of children.
as bass guitarist. The band renamed itself the Grateful Dead and Lesh played with the band from 1965 to 1995.
Phillip Chapman Lesh was born on March 15, 1940, in Berkeley, California, the son of Frank and Barbara Chapman Lesh. His father was an amateur musician and small business owner. While both his parents worked, young Phil was cared for by his maternal grandmother, Jewel "Bobbie" Chapman. An avid listener of classical music, she often had the radio while taking care of Phil. His earliest memory is being carried away by Brahms's First Symphony.
At age eight, Phil Lesh began playing the violin and joined the Young People’s Symphony Orchestra in Berkeley, California playing classics from Beethoven to Wagner. At age 14, he switched to trumpet. In his sophomore year he transferred from El Cerrito High School to Berkeley High School for music courses in harmony. During this time he developed a keen interest in avant-garde classical music and free jazz. Phil Lesh credits school music programs with his success in music.
In 1958, Phil Lesh enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley as a music-major, but was quickly disenchanted with the restrictive music curricula. He transferred to Mills College in Oakland, California, and enrolled in Luciano Berio's modernist music class. There he learned the mechanics of music theory and wrote several compositions. However, he found it difficult to get his pieces performed as he was not an established composer. For a time he made a living driving truck for the U.S. Postal Service.
In the spring of 1965, Phil Lesh met bluegrass banjo player Jerry Garcia, whose band, the Warlocks, was playing at a party. Lesh wasn't into rock and roll at the time, but really liked the band's music. He mentioned to Garcia an interest in playing the bass guitar. A few weeks later, Garcia invited him to join the band. Lesh learned the bass while playing several of the band's gigs. Soon after, they changed their name to the Grateful Dead.
With his earlier musical training, Lesh developed in improvisational style with the Grateful Dead that more resembled Bach counterpoint than rock and roll. Thus, he became a musical pioneer like several other rock bassists of his time: John Entwistle of The Who, Jack Cassidy of Jefferson Airplane, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and Jack Bruce of Cream.
As one of the seminal bands of the 1960s and 70s, the Grateful Dead was known for its eclectic style. The songs fused rock, bluegrass, folk, blues, and occasionally reggae, and country. Most noticeably during live performances, they blended jazz, psychedelia, and space rock in long musical improvisations, running as long as 45 minutes.
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With the 1960s came the psychedelic movement, a time when taking hallucinogenic drugs and listening to experimental music peaked within the countercultures of America and Great Britain. Among the movement's most famous musicians were the Grateful Dead, which mixed genres such as psychadelia, blues, folk, country, rock 'n' roll and jazz to create their incredibly unique rock sound. Known for changing set lists for each show, and for sometimes playing for more than four hours in one set, the Dead created songs like "Sugar Magnolia," "Casey Jones" and "Scarlet Begonias." While the group toured with various musicians until it disbanded in the late 1990s, its main members included Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart.
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