Bruce Hornsby had fun with the Grateful Dead, but not that kind of fun

Bruce Hornsby has had many highlights throughout his career, but in an interview with Music Radar he reveals one of his favorite things he’s ever done is join the Grateful Dead.

Discussing the artists he’s worked with in the past, he shared, “But the collaboration I had most fun with was joining the Grateful Dead.” 

“That whole scene … the fans, playing one song for a couple of hours, the people I met, the body of work that those guys created. OK, it might not be on a par with The Beatles, but it’s pretty darn close,” he said.

Hornsby initially performed with the Dead whenever he and The Range would open for them, but started filling in regularly when they were between keyboardists in the early ’90s.

“And the great thing was that they simply sat me down and said, ‘play whatever you want,’” he said. “There were no rules, no funny looks if you came in at the wrong place. There was no ‘wrong place!’ It was pure music and it was wonderful.” 

He added, “Man, I wouldn’t trade my time with the Dead for anything.” 

And while Hornsby had lots of fun touring with them, he didn’t have the kind of hallucinogenic fun some may associate with the band. 

“I knew the score. Bear Stanley [the Dead’s live sound engineer, who was known as The Acid King] was still with them and he was wandering around backstage, dropping a little of this and that into the Kool-Aid,” he said. “But I took Bear to one side and told him, ‘Look, this ain’t my thing. You dose me and I’m outta here.’”

He noted, “He was true to his word. Not that it stopped the rest of the guys having a ball up there!”

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