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Brent Mydland


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Picking up where Keith Godchaux left off in the rotating keyboard position for the Grateful Dead, Brent Mydland by songwriting alone would no doubt have lasted the long haul of the next 16 years. Narrowly missing the Disco Dead era, Mydland started off hidden behind a band dynamic that had built up over the previous 15 years. His talents and popularity eventually evolved, but a fatal drug habit silenced his voice and his B-3, and the spot was left vacant yet again.

Born October 21, 1952, in Munich, Germany, his Army-serving father moved them to northeastern San Francisco when Mydland was a year old. Growing up in infamous ’60s California, he naturally followed suit and started a high school rock band that led to his first official effort, Silver.

Along with Greg Collier (guitar, vocals) and John Batdorf (guitar, vocals), Mydland covered keyboard and vocals. The Bay Area trio released its self-titled album in 1976 for Arista, which featured cover design credited to Phil Hartman — yes, the Phil Hartman of Saturday Night Live, Newsradio, and The Simpsons fame. Mydland wrote two songs for the ten-track effort: “Musician (It’s Not an Easy Life)” and “Climbing.” Silver opened for the likes of the Doobie Brothers, Seals & Crofts, and Three Dog Night.

After a stint with one of Grateful Dead singer/songwriter and guitarist Bob Weir’s side projects, Mydland went on to join the Dead in 1979, taking over for booted keyboardist Keith Godchaux (who died a year later in a car accident).

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