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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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Through their near-endless touring, the band gained the devotion of thousands of fans, known as "Deadheads." The band was also known for its alleged illegal drug consumption. After a drug bust, while on tour in New Orleans, the band memorialized the event in the song "Truckin."
From 1965 through the 1970s, Phil Lesh and the Grateful Dead toured perpetually. During this time,
Lesh composed some the band’s more popular songs including "Unbroken Chain", "Box of Rain", and "Pride of Cucamonga." In the band's early years, his high tenor voice contributed to the rich texture of the Grateful Dead's four-part harmony. However, in 1974, he had to stop singing due to vocal cord damage. In 1982, he dropped his register to baritone and resumed singing with the band.
In the 1970s, Phil Lesh began exploring several independent music projects, though never straying too far from the parent band. In 1975, Lesh recorded “Seastones”, an experimental collaboration with electronics wizard Ned Lagin and contributions by Grateful Dead band mates Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart, members of Jefferson Airplane, Grace Slick and Spenser Dryden and David Crosby of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young fame. The effort was met with mixed reviews, even by devoted Deadheads. One music reviewer described it as "cybernetic bio-music."
On August 9, 1995, Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia died of an apparent heart attack after a long struggle with drug addiction. Upon hearing of this death, Phil Lesh wrote in his autobiography, "I was struck numb. I had lost my oldest surviving friend, my brother." The remaining members of the band, decided not to continue as the Grateful Dead, but did organize several other bands with Grateful Dead alumni. "The Other Ones" was formed in 1998 with original band members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh and Mickey Hart. They later changed their name to "The Dead." Phil also formed his own band, Phil Lesh and Friends. He currently tours with another band he started with Bob Weir called "Furthur."
Phil Lesh and his wife Jill, administer a charitable organization, the Unbroken Chain Foundation. They have two children, Grahame and Brian, both musicians. In 1998, Lesh underwent a successful liver transplant, a result of chronic hepatitis C. He is now an advocate for organ donor programs. In 2005, he wrote the book Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead. In 2006, Lesh announced he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a disease that killed his father. He underwent surgery and later announced he was cancer-free.
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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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