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Bill Kreutzmann

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Biography

Bill Kreutzmann started playing drums at the age of 13, despite having been told by his sixth grade music teacher that he couldn’t keep a beat. As a teenager, he met Aldous Huxley at his high school, who encouraged him in his drumming. At the end of 1964 he co-founded the band The Warlocks, along with Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Ron “Pigpen” McKernan. Their first real gig was May 5, 1965, two days before Kreutzmann’s 19th birthday. In November 1965, the Warlocks became the Grateful Dead. Meeting fellow percussionist Mickey Hart in the fall of 1967 would have a big impact on Kreutzmann’s career. Hart soon joined the Dead, making it one of the first (and few) rock bands to feature two drummers. The two percussionists’ remarkable cohesion, synchronicity, and driving power would be a hallmark of the Grateful Dead sound for the next thirty years, earning them the nickname “The Rhythm Devils”. Their ten-minute drum duets, a feature of every show from 1978–1995 became legendary in the rock world. Kreutzmann remained with the Grateful Dead until its dissolution following the passing of Garcia in 1995, making him one of four members to play at every single one of the band’s 3,500 shows, along with Garcia, Weir and Lesh.

Following the end of the Grateful Dead, Kreutzmann returned to his home in Hawaii but by 2000 was back on the road with The Other Ones (Weir, Hart, Bruce Hornsby, Steve Kimock, Mark Karan, and Alphonso Johnson).

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