Watch Grateful Dead Soundcheck in 1976

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Songs include “The Music Never Stopped”, “Dancing In The Street”, “Eyes” and more.

By Nate Todd August 22, 2021 12:46 p.m. PDT

Former Grateful Dead singer Donna Jean Godchaux-MacKay celebrates her birthday today. Born Donna Jean Thatcher on August 27, 1947 in Florence, Alabama, Donna Jean then found work as a session singer in the nearby musical mecca of Muscle Shoals where she lent her voice to a number of recordings including hits. by Percy Sledge, “When a Man Loves a Woman” from 1966 and Elvis Presley, “Suspicious Minds” from 1969, among others.

With an already impressive resume, Donna Jean moved to California in 1970 where she would meet and marry. Keith godchaux and also introduced the pianist to Jerry Garcia in the fall of 1971. Keith would join GD shortly thereafter, and Donna attended a memorable “One More Saturday Night” at the group’s New Years show in 1971. The singer officially joined the Grateful Dead in another memorable run. in the spring of 1972 at the Academy Of Music in New York.

Donna Jean’s vocals not only gave bassist Phil Lesh a much-needed respite to handle the high harmony register, but also, coupled with Keith’s funky basic piano styles, shaped the ’70s sound of the Grateful Dead. . Donna’s impact in particular can be seen and heard in a series of soundcheck videos as the Dead prepared for a six-night residency at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco in the summer of 1976.

While the July 12 soundcheck features iconic Donna Jean songs like “The Music Never Stopped”, it also features her harmony work on tracks like “They Love Each Other” and “Eyes Of The World” (on which Donna and Jerry share a smile) as well as a duet with guitarist Bob Weir on “Dancing In The Street”. Naturally, the soundcheck also gives fans a glimpse of some work in progress as Donna sets her part on the tricky conclusion of the “Gonna make em shine” deck of “Stella Blue”.

To celebrate Donna Jean’s birthday, check out the singer’s soundcheck with the Grateful Dead in ’76 below for this edition of Sunday cinema:

Dancing in the street


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They love each other


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The music never stopped


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The music never stopped


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Eyes of the world


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Also check out the full soundcheck plus audio from the July 12 Orpheum show below via Dennis Koda and Charlie Miller:


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