On this day in 1967, Mickey Hart joined the Grateful Dead as its new drummer.

Hart joined the Dead along with founding member Bill Kreutzmann, which made them one of the first  double-drummer rock bands, and earning the pair the nickname “the rhythm devils.”

Of the many expansive, sonic mainstays Hart has contributed over the years, perhaps the two best known are his setup, which includes RAMU, a digital “Random Access Musical Universe,” with a database of sound samples he’s been collecting all his life, MIDI pads, drum rigs, and synthesizers; and the famous “beam,” an eight-foot-long, 13-inch–high-and-wide metal post strung with 13 piano wires all tuned to the note of D.

“Life is about rhythm,” Hart has said. “We vibrate, our hearts are pumping blood, we are a rhythm machine, that’s what we are. There’s nothing like music to relieve the soul and uplift it.”

Enjoy some of Hart’s interstellar, psychedelic clips, including the drum solo above from Radio City Music Hall in 1980.


“Dark Star”

“Sugar Magnolia”
“Island Groove”

Planet Drum is Hart’s brainchild (and sometimes touring project). He recruited drummers from all over the world in order to incorporate their different styles, rhythmic patterns, and instruments into a percussive, global melting pot. Here’s a clip from the endeavor.

“Scarlet Begonias”
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Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann

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