Charlie Rose Interviews Lead Guitarist of Emerging Grateful Dead Cover Band

by Dan Kelly
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Persistent Hollywood womanizer and bubblegum-pop songwriter John Mayer made his first-ever appearance on the PBS talk show, Charlie Rose, last week – waxing poetic about all the latest developments in his burgeoning career, including his new album, The Search for Everything, and his unlikely role as the lead guitarist in Dead & Company, an emerging Grateful Dead cover band.

MayerWikiMayer’s interview with Rose comes as Dead & Company prepare to kickoff their summer tour, which will feature tickets that the vast majority of the band’s fanbase can’t afford. Seemingly oblivious to that fact, Mayer described his new band’s live performances as a “fraternal loving thing that feeds a bit off people not understanding it.” Mayer quickly admitted that he really doesn’t understand it either, but for the right price he’s willing to learn.

As for Mayer’s role in the band, the 39-year-old steps into the shoes of the Grateful Dead’s late, great frontman, Jerry Garcia – a musical visionary and close friend of Mayer’s, despite the fact that the two never met. With a nostalgic sigh, the pop-artist-turned-hippie recalls that he didn’t go to a Dead show until he was actually in the band.

The Connecticut native went on to elaborate on his recent discovery of the Grateful Dead’s music and fans, as well as how he feels about carrying the torch for one of rock’s “most alive Dead person that’s ever lived and died.” In the wake of Mayer’s eloquent response, a visibly befuddled Charlie Rose could be seen looking off camera at one of his producers and mouthing, “What the fuck is he talking about?”

DeadCompanyLogoAlthough Mayer didn’t know who the Grateful Dead were three years ago, he used phrases like “I get it now” and “you wouldn’t understand” when discussing his newfound love of the iconic band. It’s clear that Mayer has stumbled his way down the golden road and picked up the pretentious lexicon of the recently converted.

As an artist who is much more familiar with teen audiences, Mayer expressed disappointment in the relatively low energy of Dead & Company’s mostly “geriatric” fanbase – suggesting the splinter band may be looking to attract a younger, wilder crowd. “You don’t see Deadheads working hard to recruit,” he said. “They like that you have to kind of find them.”

Through it all Mayer has tried to remain grounded. And despite his repeated attempts to sing the high backing vocals originally slated for Donna Godchaux on songs like “Scarlet Begonias” (see video below), he tries not to overreach. “I’m there not as a star,” Mayer said. “I’m there to help that crowd go to that place.”

Here’s to hoping that when we get there, Garcia’s fronting the band.

See the entire Charlie Rose-John Mayer interview here.

Dan Kelly is a music snob and satirical writer best known for his work on Dead-50.net. Growing up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, he was exposed to a part of the jam scene that his parents luckily knew little about. When he’s not complaining about the sound quality of your latest AUD recordings, he works as a Web Content Strategist in Omaha, NE. You can reach Dan at DKelly@SongMango.com.

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