Bob Weir: Wikis

  
  

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Bob Weir

Bob Weir performing in 2007
Background information
Birth name Robert Hall Weir
Born October 16, 1947 (1947-10-16) (age 62)
San Francisco, California
Genres Rock
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1960s – present
Labels Warner Bros.
Arista
Grateful Dead Records
Associated acts Grateful Dead (1965-'95)
Kingfish (1974-'76)
Bobby and the Midnites (1980-'84)
RatDog (1995-present)
The Other Ones (1998-2002)
The Dead (2003-2009)
Furthur (2009-present)
Website www.rat-dog.com
Bob Weir in 2007.

Bob Weir (born Robert Hall Weir, October 16, 1947) is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist, most recognized as a founding member of the Grateful Dead. After the Grateful Dead disbanded, Weir performed with The Other Ones, later known as The Dead, together with other former members of the Grateful Dead. Weir also founded and played in several other bands during and after his career with the Grateful Dead, including Kingfish, the Bob Weir Band, Bobby and the Midnites, RatDog, and his newest band Furthur.[1]

Weir played mostly rhythm guitar during his career with the Grateful Dead. He is known for his unique style of complex voiceleading, bringing unusual depth and a new approach to the role of rhythm guitar expression.

Contents

Career

Weir was born in San Francisco, California and raised by his adoptive parents in the suburb of Atherton. He began playing guitar at age thirteen after less successful experimentation with the piano and the trumpet. He had trouble in school because of undiagnosed dyslexia and he was expelled from nearly every school he attended, including Menlo School in Atherton.[2] One of these was the Fountain Valley School in Colorado, where, during the ’63 Spring term, he was trained for a career in music by his headmaster-assigned guidance counselor and roommate Chalmers “Chip” Wood, who later deeded him John Perry Barlow as a stop-gap mentor. John Perry Barlow, along with Robert Hunter, would in time become the two main lyricists for the Grateful Dead. On New Year's Eve, 1963, 16-year-old Weir and another underage friend were wandering the back alleys of Palo Alto, looking for a club that would admit them, when they heard banjo music. They followed the music to its source, Dana Morgan's Music Store. Here, a young Jerry Garcia, oblivious to the date, was waiting for his students to arrive. Weir and Garcia spent the night playing music together and then decided to form a band. The Beatles significantly influenced their musical direction. "The Beatles were why we turned from a jug band into a rock 'n' roll band," said Bob Weir. "What we saw them doing was impossibly attractive. I couldn't think of anything else more worth doing" [3]Originally called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, the band was later renamed The Warlocks and eventually the Grateful Dead.

Weir performing with the Grateful Dead, 12/31/76 Photo: David Gans

Weir played rhythm guitar and sang a portion of the lead vocals through all of the Dead's 30-year career. (In the fall of 1968, the Dead played some concerts without Weir and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. These shows, with the band billed as "Mickey and the Hartbeats", were intermixed with full-lineup Grateful Dead concerts. Late in the year, the band relented and took Weir and Pigpen back in full time.)[4][5] In the late 1970s, he began to experiment with slide guitar techniques and perform certain songs during Dead shows using the slide. His unique guitar style is strongly influenced by the hard bop pianist McCoy Tyner and he has cited artists as diverse as John Coltrane, the Rev. Gary Davis, and Igor Stravinsky as influences.[2] Weir was known for using periodic guitar moves during various times at Grateful Dead concerts to invigorate the crowd and to create musical momentum.

Weir's first solo album, Ace, was released in 1972, with the members of the Grateful Dead performing as the band on the album, though credited individually. While continuing to perform as a member of the Grateful Dead, in 1975 and 1976 Weir played in the Bay Area band Kingfish with friends Matt Kelly and Dave Torbert. (He later contributed to Kelly's 1987 album A Wing and a Prayer, on Relix Records). In 1978 he fronted the Bob Weir Band, with future Grateful Dead member Brent Mydland on keyboards. In 1980 he formed another side band, Bobby and the Midnites.

Shortly before Garcia's death in 1995, Weir formed another band, RatDog Revue, later shortened to RatDog. As of April 9, 2008, Weir has performed approximately 800 shows with RatDog. Known for his raspy, deep tone, in RatDog Weir sings covers by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, and Willie Dixon while also performing many Grateful Dead classics. In addition, Ratdog performs many of their own originals, most of which were released on the album Evening Moods.

Weir has also participated in the various reformations of the Grateful Dead's members, including 1998, 2000, and 2002 stints as The Other Ones and in 2003, 2004 and 2009 as The Dead.

Weir is an honorary member of the board of directors of the environmental organization Rainforest Action Network, along with Woody Harrelson, Bonnie Raitt, and John Densmore. He is also on the board of directors of the Rex Foundation.

Despite breaking his ribs in a tour bus accident in early October 2008, saying that "[I]t only hurts when I breathe, laugh, or hold a guitar," Weir performed with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead (Lesh, Kreutzmann, and Hart) with Jeff Chimenti (RatDog) on Keyboards and Warren Haynes (Gov't Mule, The Allman Brothers Band) on Lead Guitar and Vocals, on October 13, 2008, in a get out the vote Concert for Change at Penn State University

Personal life

Bob Weir and Mickey Hart performing at the Obama Inaugural, January 20, 2009.

Weir remained single throughout his years with the Grateful Dead, although he lived for several years with a woman named "Frankie," allegedly the inspiration for Weir's best-known song "Sugar Magnolia". On July 15, 1999 Weir married Natascha Muenter. They have two daughters, Shala Monet Weir and Chloe Kaelia Weir. Natascha's younger sister Leilani Munter is a race car driver in the NASCAR circuit.

Weir is reported to be a member of the Bohemian Club and has attended and performed at the secretive club's annual bacchanal at the Bohemian Grove. [6]

Philanthropy

In 2002, Weir signed on as an official supporter of Little Kids Rock, a non-profit organization that provides free musical instruments and instruction to children in underserved public schools throughout the U.S.A. In addition to sitting on LKR's Honorary Board of Directors, Weir's Furthur Foundation awarded LKR a grant to expand their programming and reach more students who had not been receiving music education.

Guitars

Onstage in 2007 playing a Modulus G3FH

Early pictures of The Warlocks in concert show him playing a Gretsch Duo-Jet, [7] and after the Warlocks became the Grateful Dead, Weir briefly played a Rickenbacker 365, a Guild Starfire IV acoustic-electric (with Garcia playing an identical Cherry Red Starfire IV, which appear very similar to the Gibson ES-335) as well as a Fender Telecaster before settling on for the following decade, the Gibson ES-335.[8] Weir usually played a cherry red 1965 ES-335 until the band's hiatus in 1974, although he did occasionally use a Gibson ES-345. Weir played a black Gibson Les Paul in 1971. Weir can also be seen playing a sunburst ES-335 in The Grateful Dead Movie, filmed in October of 1974. During the early 1970s, Weir also used a 1961 or 1962 Gibson SG.

In 1974, Weir began working with Jeff Hasselberger at Ibanez to develop a custom instrument.[9] Weir began playing the Ibanez 2681 during the recording of Blues for Allah; this was a testbed instrument with sliding pickups that Hasselberger used to develop several additional 2681s for use onstage, as well as Weir's custom "Cowboy Fancy" guitar, which he played from 1979 until the mid-1980s.[10] Weir began using a Modulus Blackknife at that point, and continued to play the Blackknife, along with a hybrid Modulus/Casio guitar for the "Space" segment of Grateful Dead concerts for the rest of that band's history. Weir's acoustic guitars include several Martins, a Guild, an Ovation, and a line of Alvarez-Yairi signature models.

Of late, photos on Rat-Dog.com show Weir playing most often a Modulus G3FH custom and his returned to use Gibson ES-335. He has seemingly retired a 1956 Fender Telecaster previously owned by his late half-brother, James Parber.[11]

Discography

Notes

  1. ^ "Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Joe Russo, Jay Lane, Jeff Chimenti and John Kadlecik Form New Band "Furthur", Set Dates For September, JamBase, August 14, 2009
  2. ^ a b McNally, Dennis. A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. New York: Broadway Books, 2002. ISBN 0767911857
  3. ^ Garcia An American Life by Blair Jackson 2000 pg. 67
  4. ^ McNally, p. 279, 284
  5. ^ Scott, John W. et al. (1999). DeadBase XI: The Complete Guide to Grateful Dead Song Lists, DeadBase, ISBN 1-877657-22-0, p. 8
  6. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-460991/The-gentlemens-club-rich-famous-worships-1980s-Page-3-girl.html
  7. ^ Psychedelic News
  8. ^ Hunter, Robert, Stephen Peters, Chuck Wills, Dennis McNally. "Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip." DK ADULT; 1 Amer ed edition (October, 2003). ISBN 0-7894-9963-0
  9. ^ Ibanez
  10. ^ Weir Interview
  11. ^ Tele Story

References

External links








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