Mickey Hart

For the manager of the Tyrone Gaelic football team, see Mickey Harte.
Mickey Hart

Hart at the Web 2.0 conference in 2005
Background information
Birth name Michael Steven Hartman
Born (1943-09-11) September 11, 1943
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Genres Rock, world music
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums, percussion
Years active 1960s–present
Associated acts Grateful Dead, The Other Ones, The Dead, Rhythm Devils, Dead & Company
Website mickeyhart.net
External video
Oral History, Mickey Hart reflects on the idea of music creating balance in your life. Interview date August 4, 2010, NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Oral History Library
Mickey Hart leading a drum circle, February 2005

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 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".

Early life and education

Michael Steven Hartman was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island attending Lawrence High School before dropping out as a senior and leaving for Europe.[1]

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.[2] Olatunji later taught Hart and collaborated with Hart and the Grateful Dead on a regular basis.[3]

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 his father.[4] 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 continued under the name "The Dead", as well as playing with Dead & Company which started in 2015.

Alongside his work with the Grateful Dead, 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.[5] 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 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,[6] and received the first ever Grammy Award for Best World Music Album.[7]

Hart has written books on the history and traditions of drumming throughout history. His solo recordings (featuring a variety of guest musicians) are percussive but verge on New Age. 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.[8]

In 2000, Hart became a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, a not-for-profit organization that studies the healing power of music[9] – 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.[10]

Mickey Hart (in background, playing drums) and Bob Weir (playing guitar) performing at the Mid-Atlantic Inaugural Ball during the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, January 20, 2009.
Tipper Gore and Mickey Hart playing drums together during a The Dead concert in April 2009

Hart was also a judge for the 3rd annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.[11]

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 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 US 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.[12][13]

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 del Carmen in January 2010.[14]

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).[15]

The Rhythm Devils did only one show in 2011, at the Gathering of the Vibes Music Festival in Bridgeport, Connecticut. This version of the band was Hart, Kreutzmann, Keller Williams, Sikiru, Steve Kimock and Reed Mathis of Tea Leaf Green on bass.[16]

In 2011 Hart debuted a new version of the Mickey Hart Band.[17] This lineup included Tim Hockenberry (vocals, keyboards, trombone, saxophone, other instruments), Crystal Monee Hall (vocals, guitar, hand percussion), Ben Yonas (keyboards), Gawain Mathews (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 coasts of the United States. 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.[18][19]

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 the Sudan, Nigeria, Tibet, Indonesia, Latvia, and Brazil.[20]

Mickey Hart in 2013

In August 2013, the Mickey Hart Band embarked upon a tour with the Tea Leaf Trio, which includes three members of the band Tea Leaf Green, in support of the band's new album titled Superorganism.[21]

On September 29, 2013, the completed version of his and George Smoot's film Rhythms of the Universe premiered at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.[22]

In the summer of 2015, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart), joined by Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti, performed a series of concerts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead. The performances took place at Santa Clara's Levi Stadium on June 27 and 28, 2015 and Chicago's Soldier Field on July 3, 4 and 5, 2015. These performances marked the first time Weir, Lesh, Kreutzmann and Hart performed together since the Dead's 2009 tour and was publicized as the final time the musicians will all perform together.[23]

Mickey is currently touring with Dead & Company, a band consisting of former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, along with John Mayer (guitar), Oteil Burbridge (bass), and Jeff Chimenti (keyboards). The band announced 22 concert dates for 2015, from October 29 through December 31, all in the United States.

Personal life

Mickey Hart, January 2013

Hart has been married since 1990 to lawyer, environmental activist and parks administrator Caryl Hart, with whom he has had two children Reya and Taro.[24] 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.[25] Hart is the only Jewish member of the Grateful Dead.[26][27]






  1. Needles, Tim. "Interview with Grateful Dead drummer & musicologist Mickey Hart". Short and Sweet NYC. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  2. Hart, Mickey; Stevens, Jay; Lieberman, Fredric (1990). Drumming at the Edge of Magic. San Francisco: Harper. p. 127.
  3. Planet, Janet (2003-04-06). "Babatunde Olatunji: 1927–2003". African Music Encyclopedia. Janet Planet. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  4. Planer, Lindsay. "Rolling Thunder: Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  5. Anderson, Rick. "Planet Drum: Review". AllMusic. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  6. Smith, E. "Doc" (September 22, 2006). "Planet Drum Comes to the Masonic". BeyondChron. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  7. "The Grammy Winners". The New York Times. February 27, 1992. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  8. "The Grateful Dead Biography". RockHall.com. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  9. Bowden, Ray (March 7, 2013). "Mickey Hart Band with African Showboyz, Oriental Theatre, Denver, CO – 3/1". Jambands.com. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  10. "About the Music Has Power Awards". MusicHasPower.org. Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  11. "Past Judges For The Independent Music Awards". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  12. Graff, Gary (July 1, 2008). "Hart: The Dead Happy To Rock Again For Obama". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  13. Pizek, Jeff (July 4, 2008). "Mickey Hart: Unity, Healing through the Beat". Daily Herald. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  14. "Faces and Places (page 3)". CERN Courier. February 24, 2010. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  15. "The Rhythm Devils Adds July Dates". Jambands.com. April 12, 2010. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  16. "The Rhythm Devils—setlist—Gathering of the Vibes, Bridgeport, CT, July 24 2011". Deadheadland.com. July 25, 2011. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  17. "Mickey Hart band Debut Performance—August 5, 2011 Napa Valley Opera House". Deadheadland.com. August 6, 2011. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  18. "Dave Schools Joins Mickey Hart Band For Fall Tour". Glide Magazine. October 4, 2011. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  19. "Biography". MickeyHart.net. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  20. Campagna, Jeff (October 5, 2011). "The Mickey Hart Collection in Rhythm with the World". SmithsonianMag.com. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  21. Smith, E. "Doc" (September 6, 2013). "Mickey Hart's 'Superorganism' Comes to the Fillmore". BeyondChron. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
  22. "Rhythms of the Universe: An Evening with Mickey Hart and George Smoot". Ustream.tv. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. September 29, 2013. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  23. "Dead 50".
  24. Knight, Brian L. "Conversations with the Rhythm Master: An Interview with Mickey Hart". Vermontreview.tripod.com. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  25. "Jerry Hart". BlogTalkRadio.com. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  26. Cohen, Debra Nussbaum (March 22, 1996). "Jews mythologize Grateful Dead seder". Jweekly.com. San Francisco Jewish Community Publications Inc. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  27. Brinn, David (May 29, 2013). "Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart to perform in Jerusalem". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2015-04-06.
  28. Planer, Lindsay. Däfos at AllMusic. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  29. Brenholts, Jim. Yamantaka at AllMusic. Retrieved February 10, 2016.
  30. Ruhlmann, William. Music to Be Born By at AllMusic. Retrieved February 10, 2106.


Further reading

External links

External video
Geo Sessions: Global Drum Project Pt. 1. From National Geographic. Global Drum Project, featuring ex-Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart and tabla legend Zakir Hussain
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mickey Hart.
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