Grateful Dead Keyboard Player Brent Mydland Found Dead in Home
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Brent Mydland, keyboard player, singer and songwriter since 1979 for the psychedelic rock band the Grateful Dead, was found dead in his home. He was 37.
Friends discovered Mydland’s body Thursday in the bedroom of his home in Lafayette, a suburb 25 miles east of San Francisco, said Sgt. Richard Terry of the Contra Costa County Coroner’s office.
It was not clear when or how Mydland died, but there was no sign of foul play, Terry said. An autopsy was scheduled for today.
Mydland had returned Tuesday from a three week national tour with the band, Terry said.
″We lost a brother, and we are very devastated,″ Grateful Dead spokesman Dennis McNally said.
Surviving band members met Thursday night ″to talk, to grieve and to figure out what to do next,″ McNally said. Tickets already have been sold for Grateful Dead shows in August and September in California, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York City and in October in Sweden, West Germany, France and England.
The Grateful Dead formed in 1965 and were at the forefront of the psychedelic counterculture movement in San Francisco. Among their better known songs are ″Truckin’,″ ″Casey Jones″ and ″Touch of Grey.″
Known for their diverse live sets and spontaneous ″jams,″ the Grateful Dead today retain a strong following of fans known as ″Deadheads.″ Many fans follow the band from show to show and trade tapes of concerts, which the band lets them record.
Mydland joined the band in April 1979, replacing keyboardist Keith Godchaux, who died a year later in an auto accident. Godchaux had replaced keyboardist Ron ″Pig Pen″ McKernan, who died of cirrhosis of the liver at age 27 in 1973.
Mydland was born in Germany to American parents stationed there with the military and grew up in the San Francisco area.
As a teen-ager, he played with small local rock ‘n’ roll bands. He worked with the group Batdorf and Rodney in the early 1970s, then joined the Los Angeles-based rock band Silver.
He joined the Grateful Dead after a stint with rhythm guitarist and vocalist Bob Weir’s side band Bobby and the Midnites.
At first Mydland had played in the shadow of the other more famous band members, including lead guitarist and vocalist Jerry Garcia. But he developed a greater presence in recent years, writing more songs and helping the band’s harmonies with what McNally called his ″rough, bluesy textured voice.″
John Barlow, who had collaborated with Mydland on most of his songs, said, ″Brent could pick his way through anything immediately, which meant he had the special requirement it was going to take to walk into the Dead overnight.
″He was musically central to the band, but he was so good at what he did that he was able to become fundamental to everything that the band was doing musically without it being immediately apparent to the audience,″ Barlow said.
Tunes Mydland wrote include ″Far From Me″ and the environmental ballad ″We Can Run (But We Can’t Hide),″ used recently in an Audubon Society video.
Most recently, Mydland frequently performed his ″I Will Take You Home,″ a lullaby written for his two young daughters.
He is survived by his wife, Lisa, his daughters and his parents, who live in the Sacramento area.