Grateful Dead Drummer Mickey Hart Taps the Cosmos

In 1972, free jazz pioneer Sun Ra proclaimed, "Space is place," in a bizarre sci-fi/blaxploitation film of the same name.

Space remains the focus of intense interest for astronomers, astronauts, moviemakers, and UFO hunters, and it also serves as the latest inspiration for former Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, who seems to be heeding Sun Ra's advice some 39 years later.

Hart has been tapping the cosmos of late, working with NASA and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists to turn ancient light waves beaming in from space into sound waves he can adapt into music for Deadheads and average listeners alike.

Mickey Hart
Mickey Hart

Location Info


The Compound Grill

7000 E. Mayo Blvd.
Phoenix, AZ 85054

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: North Phoenix


The Mickey Hart Band is scheduled to perform Tuesday, December 6, at The Compound Grill.

The collection of astrophysical data Hart translates into sound audible to the human ear includes rumblings caused by galaxy and star formation, supernovae, quasars, cosmic background radiation, and even the original creation of the known universe.

"I've been involved in sampling the epic events of the universe from the Big Bang to now — everything that makes up our lives," Hart says on his website. "It's all about the vibrations of life. In this case, they began as light waves, and these light waves are still washing over us . . . I want to bring these light waves into the human range and use that as a musical catalyst and play with it."

As crazy as that sounds, this type of far-reaching endeavor isn't unexpected from Hart. Wearing his ethnomusicologist hat in collaboration with the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, Hart spearheaded the "Endangered Music Project" to record and preserve musical traditions at risk.

Given that Hart's been exploring music from the Earth's farthest reaches longer than he played behind Jerry Garcia, space (which always followed drums) is the next logical step.

Hart, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with The Dead, was unavailable to explain the scientific process of turning light into sound (too busy tinkering around in the studio, we're told) but notes on his website that anything that vibrates has a sound, and light waves vibrate. Hart's cosmic samples are as much about texture and feeling as recognizable musical content.

"I add a little spice to them with some reverb and some delay," he told Rolling Stone. "It makes for a hot little stew."

That stew provides the Mickey Hart Band a working platform for its not exactly un-Dead-like jams. Naturally, Hart's music has a heavy percussive element — the band features drummer Ian "Inx" Herman, percussionist Greg Ellis, and talking drum/djembe player Sikiru Adepoju — along with Hart on his expansive kit.

The music is both new and familiar, showing off traditional song structures amid lengthy jams that shift from psychedelic to funky. Vocalists Tim Hockenberry and Crystal Monee Hall, guitarist Gawain Mathews, and Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools complete the band.

Bolstered by lyrics from longtime Dead collaborator Robert Hunter, Hart is debuting these compositions — along with songs from throughout his career, including Grateful Dead favorites like "Fire on the Mountain," "Scarlet Begonias," and "Casey Jones" — on his current tour.

Hart plans to release an as yet-untitled CD of finished material in the spring. Yet, no matter how good the music turns out — and live videos on YouTube provide early positive affirmation — Hart can't win another Grammy Award, if there isn't a category for what he does. World music? Sort of, but the fact is — it's far out, man. Like, outer space far out.

My Voice Nation Help
Haole Surfer
Haole Surfer

mickey hart had many different bands over the years not just this one. learn your trivia dude your way off.


Maybe he BILLY G meant RAT DOG? not Furthur? NEVER BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU HEAR, AND ONLY HALF OF WHAT YOU SEE. And old Hells Angels saying. the GD Band and Jerry Garcia were very good friends with the HELLS ANGELS FRISCO AND OAKLAND CHAPTERS and local cave creek HA-81 SONNY BARGER since around 1965 in the Merry Prankster days at Ken Kesey,s farm in Lahonda Calif.. I trust a bikers word over any straight citizen anyday. TREAT ME GOOD I WILL TREAT YOU BETTER,TREAT ME BAD I WILL TREAT YOU WORSE. Billys word is 100% Good Pal. CHUCK ZITO

Fucking dirty hippies
Fucking dirty hippies

you sound like a fucking stoned out asshole dirty hippie. go fuck yourself queer boy! you need to calm down your thinking to much. go buy a calculator for your math problem. billy grillo is a well known guy in the biker world here in phoenix. thats why you dont know him. you not a biker your a fucking dirty ass hippie numb nuts.


Billy Grillo is one of a few old Dead Road Crew guys they were Ram Rod, Bill Candelaro,Steve Parrish,Billy Grillo and John JT Thomas. He is still working at 62 years old. Mostly he worked with Bill Krutzman the 2nd drummer in the Dead. Billy is a good pal of mine here in Phoenix we been riding bikes together ever since he moved here. CHICO MORA HELLS ANGELS MC PHX AZ.


lots of bikers and deadheads know billy grillo from way back in the early 1970s. he used to live in the north bay area in santa rosa california out in the country. he was on an old easy riders the biker magazine vcr tape way back in the early 1980s and they did a story on billy it was called hard riding roadie of the grateful dead. billy owns about 7 motorcycles and that was what the story was about.if you had been around the dead family you would know who billy grillo is.

Billy Grillo
Billy Grillo

Ask Micky Hart about me Billy Grillo. im now in my early 60s and still working on the road crew. you got my dates and story incorrect. my name also is on most Grateful Dead cds albums etc. or Google my name. come meet me at the Micky Hart show 12-6-2011 and talk to me in person. ask any roadie for Billy Grillo. im Italian. and im an old school biker.

Calling Elvis
Calling Elvis

Hopefully the very unhip James King of new times fame will come to this show and finally meet the local Hells Angels MC face to face. The Angels are old school Deadheads.

Billy Grillo
Billy Grillo

Good luck finding any DeadHeads in Phoenix Arizona besides me. My name is Billy Grillo and I have worked for the Grateful Dead road crew since 1971 to 1995 when Jerry Garcia died. I have worked with Micky Harts band and Bob Weirs band Furthur since 1995 when Jerry Garcia died. I have lived in Phoenix since 1992 and I have known only 1 Deadhead in this city in all those years and we both work together and in his spare time he also works for the Allman Brothers Band. im sure a few members of the local Hells Angels MC will show up at this show as Sonny Barger and the Angels are big fans of Micky and have known him since Frisco in the 1960s.


Hey Billy!

It's Page, from VA, 87' was a great year! Thanks for putting me up in Cali and the bike ride! I had a blast that year from coast to coast and you made that possible.....thanks and miss you!

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