In addition to his musical prowess, Billy has proven to be a highly entertaining historian for the band. In his 2015 memoir Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead, Kreutzmann goes into gritty detail about the band’s long, strange trip. Ever hear about the time they dosed the camera crew with LSD during the taping of their guest appearance on Hugh Hefner’s “Playboy After Dark” show? Watch Bill tell the hilarious story on CONAN: Nearly 52 years ago to the day, on May 5, 1965, a nearly-19-year-old Bill Kreutzmann took the stage with a new little jug band called The Warlocks for their first ever gig at a pizza parlor in Palo Alto, CA. That band would eventually change its name to the Grateful Dead, and go on to become one of the most musically and culturally influential bands of all time. Today, as we celebrate Kreutzmann’s 70th birthday, we take a look back at some of our favorite Billy moments from years past.As one-half of the Dead’s legendary two-piece rhythm section (along with Mickey Hart), Kreutzmann helped define the role of the jam band drummer by both propelling the full band’s improvisations and taking the audience on a percussion-only journey with a nightly “Drums” segment. Check out this video of one of our favorite “Drums”, from Halloween 1980 at Radio City Music Hall:Though many years have passed, Bill and Mickey—also known as the Rhythm Devils—are just as creative and inventive as ever. If you need proof, take a listen to this mind-blowing “Drums” from just last year at Dead & Company’s November 7th, 2015 Madison Square Garden show (starts at 51:10): Even since Jerry Garcia’s untimely passing in 1995, Kreutzmann has continued to tour heavily, keeping the spirit and music of the Grateful Dead alive with a variety of outfits including The Other Ones, The Dead, The Rhythm Devils, and Dead & Company. Watch Kreutzmann perform with his newest solo project creation, Billy & the Kids, at Red Rocks in 2015:Bill has also been known to make surprise appearances when the mood strikes him, from inconspicuously joining a street performer’s drum jam in San Francisco to jumping in with an unwitting Wes Williams Band for an emotional performance of “Scarlet Begonias” in New Orleans. Happy 70th, Bill, here’s to many more years worth of music and memories!
You are Here
- Celebrate Bill Kreutzmann’s 70th Birthday With Our Favorite Moments From His Legendary Career