Mickey Hart's 70th Tribute with David Gans

Joey Spehar was joined by David Gans to celebrate Mickey Hart’s 70th birthday. David Gans is a huge fan of the Grateful Dead and Mickey Hart, and hosts The Grateful Dead Hour and The Worlds of Mickey Hart, radio shows celebrating the music of these legendary bands and musicians.

Mickey Hart is half of The Grateful Dead’s “Rhythm Devils” drum team, and has several projects of his own including several solo albums, The Mickey Hart Band and the Rhythm Devils. Joey Spehar calls Hart “a modern Alan Lomax” for his role in preserving world music.

As the backbone of the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann “made drum solos actually interesting instead of a time to go get another beer.” But that might not even be as important as his work as an ethnomusicologist, ensuring that the music of people all over the world doesn’t go extinct. “Mickey got interested in world music very, very early in the game. When he joined the Grateful Dead, he was a military drummer, a marching band kind of drummer. He expanded his world into the Grateful Dead’s world and expanded the Grateful Dead’s world by joining them,” Gans said. Hart began recording Indian music with Allah Rahka, tabla player for Ravi Shankar, and Allah’s son Zakir Hussain. “They started doing world music stuff together before the tag “world music” even existed.”

The Mickey Hart Band’s last album, Mysterium Tremendum, was a bit of a concept album. For this album, Mickey looked to outer space, using information from radio telescopes to compose these songs. For The Mickey Hart Band’s newest release, Superorganism, “looks to inner space,” Gans says. “using the same technology, he was mapping brain waves and the sound of cells dividing, and sent them to these colleagues of his and turned them into music that Mickey plays on stage.” Mickey wears a special cap onstage that has electrodes in it. Gans claims, “He’s actually jamming with his own brain on stage in real time.”

Since Mickey is in good health for his 70th birthday, Joey thinks Hart will be around for another 70 years. Hart has gone from outer space to the inside of his own brain, so whatever he does next, its sure to be interesting, and likely amazing.