Happy Birthday Donna Jean Godchaux: Grateful Dead’s Donna Era Spotify Playlist
Donna Jean Godchaux, the former vocalist for the Grateful Dead, was born on this date in 1947. She joined the Dead in 1972, a few months after husband, keyboardist Keith Godchaux started playing in the band. Donna and Keith amicably left the group in early 1979 and the following year Keith tragically died at the age of 32 from injuries suffered in a car accident.
While Keith became a member of the Grateful Dead in October 1971, Donna did not appear onstage with the group until their concert on New Year’s Eve that year when she came out during “One More Saturday Night.” She became a permanent member of the Dead when she performed with them on March 25, 1972, which was the fourth show of a seven-night run at the Academy Of Music in New York City head of their famed Europe 1972 tour.
Donna and Keith’s tenure in the Grateful Dead included that historic trip overseas, as well as the band’s visit to Egypt in 1978. The Godchaux era also saw the death of co-founding keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, the 1974 return of drummer Mickey Hart who left the band in early-1971 after his father, who managed the Dead, stole a large amount of money from the band members. The couple’s time encapsulated the 1975 touring hiatus and Donna’s own late-1973 absence while on maternity leave.
While members of the Dead, the pair also performed with Jerry Garcia Band and appeared on the Grateful Dead’s studio albums, Wake Of The Flood (1973), From the Mars Hotel (1974), Blues For Allah (1975), Terrapin Station (1977) and Shakedown Street (1978), as well as Jerry Garcia‘s and Bob Weir‘s solo albums.
After a few shows in January and February 1979, Keith and Donna’s last appearance with the Grateful Dead was on February 17, 1979 at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. The Spotify Playlist below presents a chronological collection of live Grateful Dead recordings spanning Donna’s first show with the band in 1972 through their 1978 New Year’s Eve concert at the Winterland in San Francisco.