From Wikipedia: Mickey Hart (born Michael Steven Hartman; September 11, 1943) is an American percussionist and musicologist. He is best known as one of the two drummers of the rock band the Grateful Dead. He was a member of the Grateful Dead from September 1967 to February 1971, and from October 1974 to August 1995. He and fellow Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann earned the nickname “the rhythm devils”.
Before joining the Grateful Dead, Hart and his father, Leonard Hart, a champion rudimental drummer, owned and operated Hart Music, selling drums and musical instruments in San Carlos, California.
Hart joined the Grateful Dead in September 1967, and left in February 1971 when he extricated himself from the band, due to conflict between band management and Mickey’s father. During his sabbatical, in 1972, he recorded the album Rolling Thunder. He returned to the Dead in 1974, and remained with the group until their official dissolution in 1995. Collaboration with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead continues, under the band name The Dead.
Alongside his work with the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart has flourished as a solo artist, percussionist, and the author of several books. In these endeavors he has pursued a lifelong interest in ethnomusicology and in world music. His travels and his interest in all things percussion-related led him to collect percussion instruments, and to collaborate with percussion masters the world over.
Hart became interested in percussion as a grade-school student. A few months out of high school he “discovered the work of Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji“. Olatunji later taught Hart and collaborated with Hart and the Grateful Dead on a regular basis.
Hart was influential in recording global musical traditions on the verge of possible extinction, working with archivists and ethnomusicologists at both the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution. He is on the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center and has been a spokesperson for the Save Our Sounds audio preservation initiative. He also serves on the Library of Congress National Recorded Sound Preservation Board and is known for reissues and other recordings with historical and cultural value.
In 1991, Hart produced the album Planet Drum, which remained at #1 on the Billboard World Music Chart for 26 weeks, and received the first ever Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.
Hart has written books on the history and traditions of drumming throughout history. His solo recordings (featuring a variety of guest musicians) are percussive of course, but also verge on New Age music categorically. His enthusiasm for world music traditions and preservation and collaborative efforts is comparable to that of guitarist Ry Cooder.
In 1994, Mickey Hart was inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead.
In 2000, Hart became a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to seek to establish new knowledge and develop more effective therapies which awaken, stimulate and heal through the extraordinary power of music – continuing his investigation into the connection between healing and rhythm, and the neural basis of rhythm. In 2003, he was honored with the organization’s Music Has Power Award, recognizing his advocacy and continuous commitment to raising public awareness of the positive effect of music.
Bob Weir and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead performing at the Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball during the Obama Inaugural. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hart was also a judge for the 3rd annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists’ careers.
After the death of Jerry Garcia and the consequent dissolution of the Grateful Dead in 1995, Hart continued to play music with various groups including members of the Grateful Dead. In the 1996 Furthur Festival, Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box played, as did Bob Weir‘s band Ratdog.
In 2005, Hart and the members of the band Particle joined to create the Hydra Project.
During 2006, Hart teamed up with fellow Grateful Dead bandmate Bill Kreutzmann, Phish bassist Mike Gordon and former The Other Ones lead guitarist Steve Kimock, to form the Rhythm Devils, a nickname that refers to Hart and Kreutzmann’s drum duets and improvisation. The band features songs from their respective repertoires as well as new songs written by Jerry Garcia’s songwriting companion Robert Hunter. The Rhythm Devils announced their first tour in 2006, which ended at the popular Vegoose festival in Las Vegas, Nevada over the Halloween weekend.
In June and July 2008, Hart led the Mickey Hart Band on a U.S. concert tour. The band consists of Hart, Steve Kimock on guitar and pedal steel guitar, George Porter, Jr. on bass, Kyle Hollingsworth on keyboards, Sikiru Adepoju on talking drum, Walfredo Reyes, Jr. on drums, and Jen Durkin on vocals.
In 2010 Hart debuted “Rhythms of the Universe,” a composition based on a variety of astrophysical data. The composition represents a collaboration between scientist and artist, using their own sophisticated tools. Nobel Laureate in physics George Smoot from the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Keith Jackson, a computer scientist and musician also from LBNL, are providing some of the data for the project. The final result will be a musical “history of the universe”, from the Big Bang onwards through galaxy and star formation, up until modern times, including images from the Hubble Space Telescope and rhythms derived from the cosmic background radiation, supernovae, quasars, and many other astrophysical phenomena. The work premiered at the conference “Cosmology on the Beach” in Playa de Carmen in January 2010.
In April 2010, it was announced that Rhythm Devils will tour in the summer of 2010 with a new lineup including Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann (assorted percussion), Keller Williams (guitar, vocals), Sikiru Adepoju (talking drum), Davy Knowles (guitar, vocals), and Andy Hess (bass).
The Rhythm Devils did only one show in 2011, at the Gathering of the Vibes Music Festival in Bridgeport CT. This version of the band was Hart, Kreutzmann, Keller Williams, Sikiru, Steve Kimock and Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green on bass.
In 2011 Hart debuted a new version of the Mickey Hart Band. This lineup included Tim Hockenberry (vocals,keyboards, trombone, saxophone, other instruments), Crystal Monee Hall (vocals, guitar, hand percussion), Ben Yonas (keyboards), Gawain Matthews (guitar), Sikiru Adepoju (talking drum, djembe, shakers), Ian “Inkx” Herman (drums), Greg Ellis (percussion), Vir McCoy (bass). The band played a few shows in August 2011 on the east and west coast. In November and December 2011, the Mickey Hart Band did a 17 date tour with a slightly modified lineup. McCoy and Ellis were not in this lineup, and Widespread Panic band member Dave Schools joined the band as their bass player for the tour.
On October 11, 2011, Smithsonian Folkways released The Mickey Hart Collection. Comprising 25 albums, the series includes music from regions that span the globe, including Sudan, Nigeria, Tibet, Indonesia, Latvia and Brazil.
Mickey Hart was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island attending Lawrence High School before dropping out as a senior and leaving for Europe.
Hart has been married since 1990 to lawyer and environmental activist Caryl Hart, who obtained her PhD from UC Berkeley in 2009 on the topic of climate change and public lands. He has two children. One son, Taro, had his heartbeat recorded in utero and used as the basis for the album Music to Be Born By. His brother, Jerry Hart, is a radio talk show host and social media business consultant based in San Francisco. In addition, Hart is the only Jewish ex-member of the Grateful Dead.