Friday 15 March 2019


Today comes another of those birthdays that make you feel old – in fact, two of them. Phil Lesh, the Grateful Dead's incomparably brilliant bassist, is 79, and Mike Love of the Beach Boys is 78.
Lesh, a musician more interested in avant-garde classical music and free jazz than in rock, had never played bass before Jerry Garcia enrolled him in his proto-Dead band The Warlocks. Since he had no preconceptions about the role of bass guitar – traditionally little more than an extension of the rhythm section – Lesh developed along highly original lines, making the bass an equal musical partner with Garcia's guitar.
Lesh claimed his playing was more influenced by Bach counterpoint than by anything in rock or soul music. It could certainly be a thing of beauty, as here on Ripple (from the Dead's American Beauty album), a kind of secular 23rd Psalm, perhaps appropriate for this sad day...


  1. Lovely song. Interesting to see who’s still alive and kicking. Last summer Brian Wilson and his band, featuring Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin appeared on Southsea Common. It was a shock to see Brian Wilson, flanked by two steadiers, helped to the seat of his piano with the aid of a Zimmer frame. The band were brilliant with Matt Jardine taking a lot of Brian Wilson’s vocals.

  2. Yes, and Dead & Company – Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, etc – are still going strong. Another tour coming up this summer, I gather, tho I don't suppose they'll reach Southsea Common...

  3. Ah yes Ripple as a secular 23rd Psalm, stoned also