One of 'The Grateful Dead' comes home to New York

Wednesday, April 25, 2018
One of 'The Grateful Dead' comes home to New York
Sandy Kenyon reports on Grateful Dead drummer and Long Island native Mickey Hart.

UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (WABC) -- A recent multimedia show at the Hayden Planetarium on the Upper West Side of Manhattan featured a member of the Grateful Dead doing what was described as an "immersive experience."

That group is, of course, an iconic band from San Francisco. But drummer Mickey Hart grew up on Long Island, and the thee-time Grammy winner said a visit to the American Museum of Natural History as a kid changed his life.

Fans of the Grateful Dead already know what a long strange trip it's been for the group, so they won't be too surprised to find Hart at the Planetarium.

"It's really thrilling," he said. "When I was a little kid, my grandma took me here. My light went on when I was 9, 10 years old, wondering about the mysteries of space, the wonder of it all."

We found him playing an instrument from 500 B.C. with a 21st Century twist.

"I turn the light, the radiation, into sound," he said, showing the RAMU device, which is short for Random Access Musical Universe.

He uses it to tell the story of our universe: 13.8 billion years in 30 minutes.

His latest project comes a few years after the surviving members of The Dead said "fare thee well" in 2015 after half a century of playing together. Hart explained the decision to quit.

"I was thinking we've done what we came to do," he said. "And let's do it up right and put it out to pasture and make it right for us and for them."

He's talking about the fans known as "Dead Heads," and the members of the band are devoted to them.

"We built an army, you know, of millions of people that wanted to enjoy the same kind of soundscape as the band," Hart said, "So yeah, it was perfect. A perfect union."

Their music will never die, and the musicians still play together and in solo presentations like the one at the Hayden. So what makes him want to keep performing at the age of 74?

"I think it's desperation," he said. "I am so desperate to do it. I feel that I've got to do this. I love to do this. It's my life, you know, and in that desperation, to find the magic."

So how did Mickey Hart come to join the band? Here he is describing the origin story of the Grateful Dead:

Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart tells Sandy Kenyon how he met the band's drummer Bill Kreutzmann


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