Happy Birthday Mickey Hart: Grateful Dead Plays The Spectrum On This Date In 1990
Grateful Dead drummer Michael Steven Hartman, aka Mickey Hart was born in New York City on this date in 1943. Hart quickly became interested in both percussion and science at an early age and continues to explore both fields to this day. A fateful meeting with Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann at a Count Basie Orchestra concert in San Francisco led to Hart joining the band.
Mickey Hart first performed with the Grateful Dead on September 29, 1967 at the Straight Theater in San Francisco, where Kreutzmann invited him to sit-on for the second set. “After that night, I moved into a closet in Billy and [bassist] Phil’s [Lesh] apartment on Belvedere and became the sixth member of the Grateful Dead,” Hart wrote. Mickey’s initial tenure with the band ended in February 1971. Hart joined his old mates for their final concert before a hiatus on October 20, 1974 and was welcomed back into the fold when the group returned to the road in 1976. He and Kreutzmann were behind the kits for the rest of the Grateful Dead’s career. More recently, Mickey and Billy have formed the drum line for Dead & Company, a band that also features GD guitarist Bob Weir as well as bassist Oteil Burbridge, keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and guitarist John Mayer.
The Grateful Dead played a number of shows on Hart’s birthdays. On September 11, 1990 the band performed the second of a three-show run at The Spectrum in Philadelphia. The concert was the fourth of the tour which came less than two months after keyboardist Brent Mydland’s tragic death. Vince Welnick was tapped for the keyboard seat and Bruce Hornsby lent a hand for a few years, but wasn’t available to start touring with the Dead until September 15, 1990. So Mickey’s birthday show in 1990 was Welnick’s fourth as a member of the band and one of just six without Hornsby that fall.
After opening with “Jack Straw,” Jerry Garcia shined on “Bertha.” Garcia and Weir went back and forth over the course of the set with Bobby also leading “Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Queen Jane Approximately,” “It’s All Over Now” and “Hell In A Bucket” and Jerry fronting “Candyman,” “Brown Eyed Women” and “Tennesse Jed.”
Mickey, Billy, Jerry, Bobby, Phil and Vince used the pairing of “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider” to get the second set underway. A tender “Looks Like Rain” came next before the highlight of the evening — a stellar sequence of “He’s Gone” and “Spoonful.” The former took on extra emotion in the wake of Mydland’s death and the latter led into an adventurous jam that featured hints of a number of other songs. Hart and Kreutzmann followed the adventurous improv with their nightly “Drums” section. The Rhythm Devils sent wild and tribal sounds flowing around the venue throughout the nine-minute excursion.
Hart remained onstage to give the instrumentalists a base for their trip through “Space.” Eventually, the entire band was back and treated fans to an exquisite “The Wheel.” Weir then led a raucous “I Need A Miracle” before Garcia belted out the ballad “Black Peter.” A cover of Chuck Berry’s “Around & Around” brought the second set to a close. The concert came to an emotional conclusion with an encore of Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”
Listen to a recording of the Dead’s concert on this date in 1990 via Paul B and Dan Faust below:
Watch video of the performance shared by Kevin Tobin:
Set One: Jack Straw, Bertha -> Greatest Story Ever Told, Candyman, Queen Jane Approximately, Brown Eyed Women, It’s All Over Now, Tennessee Jed, Hell In A Bucket
China Cat Sunflower -> I Know You Rider, Looks Like Rain, He’s Gone -> Spoonful -> Jam -> Drums -> Jam -> The Wheel -> I Need A Miracle -> Black Peter -> Around & Around
Encore: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door