One of the most distinctive bass players in rock music in one of the most innovative bands in rock music, Phil Lesh began playing bass with the Grateful Dead back in 1965 and helped create what would be known as the San Francisco Sound. While studying jazz and classical music early on, Lesh tried out the trumpet and violin, but switched to bass in college.
When Jerry Garcia was putting a band together, Lesh jumped right in and remained loyal to the cause for 30 years. Lesh wasn't one of the main songwriters for the Grateful Dead, but he did contribute some solid offerings in “New Potato Caboose,” “Box of Rain,” “Unbroken Chain,” and the omnipresent “Truckin'.” He also endeared himself to fans by being the guy in charge of the live recordings and archives, ensuring that each and every release met Dead standards.
Though Garcia passed away in 1995 and marked an end to the official Grateful Dead, Lesh partnered with Bob Weir and Mickey Hart to carry the legacy forward with The Other Ones. Then, in '99, he took a stab at flying solo with Love Will See You Through.
Ever the warrior, Lesh took to the road to support the release before heading into the studio to lay down 2002's There and Back Again. His gaggle of touring musicians became known as Phil Lesh & Friends to pay respect to his side players. They not only play Lesh original tunes, but also dig into the Grateful Dead catalogue, as well.
A new gathering – dubbed the Dead – came together beginning in 2003 to pay homage in proper form to their tradition. Lesh, of course, was right at the heart of the action. He also published a memoir in 2005, Searching for the Sound: My Life with the Grateful Dead. It's the only first person account of the band written by a band member.
Another solo live set came in 2006, Live at the Warfield, along with a series of releases from each show of the '06 tour. Round about 2008, the Phil Lesh & Friends project went on an informal hiatus so that Lesh could team up, once again, with Weir in Furthur.