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Bill Kreutzmann

Bill Kreutzmann
Bill Kreutzmann, c. 1975
Background information
Birth name William Kreutzmann, Jr.
Born (1946-05-07) May 7, 1946
Palo Alto, California, US
Origin San Francisco, California
Genres Rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Years active 1959–present
Associated acts

William "Bill" Kreutzmann, Jr. (;[1] born May 7, 1946)[2] is an American drummer who played with the music group the Grateful Dead for its entire thirty-year career. He also performs with his own bands BK3, 7 Walkers and Billy & the Kids.


  • Grateful Dead 1
  • Post-Grateful Dead 2
  • Visual arts 3
  • Personal life 4
  • Discography 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10

Grateful Dead

Bill Kreutzmann, playing a djembe. Grateful Dead band members Brent Mydland, Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia (from left to right) are in the background. Denver, Co.
Kreutzmann with a talking drum, 1982 Photo: David Gans

Kreutzmann was born in Palo Alto, California, the son of Janice Beryl (née Shaughnessy) and William Kreutzmann, Sr. His maternal grandfather was football coach and innovator Clark Shaughnessy.[3] He is of part German descent.[4] Kreutzmann started playing drums at the age of 13. As a teenager, he met Aldous Huxley at his high school, who encouraged him in his drumming despite having been told by his sixth grade music teacher that he could not keep a beat.

At the end of 1964 he co-founded the band the Warlocks, along with Phil Lesh, Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. Their first real gig was May 5, 1965, two days before Kreutzmann's nineteenth birthday. During the band's early days, Kreutzmann sometimes used a fake draft card with the name "Bill Sommers" to be admitted to bars where the band was playing, since he was underage.[5] In November 1965, the Warlocks became the Grateful Dead.

Meeting fellow percussionist Mickey Hart in the fall of 1967 had a big impact on Kreutzmann's career. Hart soon joined the Dead, making it one of the first (and few) rock bands to feature two drummers. The two percussionists' remarkable cohesion, synchronicity, and driving power became a hallmark of the Grateful Dead sound, and earned them the nickname "the Rhythm Devils". Their lengthy drum duets were a feature of nearly every show from 1978–1995, and are documented in a number of recordings by the band.[6]

Kreutzmann remained with the Grateful Dead until its dissolution after the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, making him one of four members to play at every one of the band's 2,300 shows, along with Garcia, Weir and Lesh.[7]

In 1994, Kreutzmann and the other members of the Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[8] In 2007, they won a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.[9]

Post-Grateful Dead

Kreutzmann's first post-Grateful Dead musical project was Backbone, a trio with guitarist Rick Barnett and bassist Edd Cook. They released one album, Backbone, in 1998.[10]

In 1998, former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, and Mickey Hart formed a band called the Other Ones, which played a number of shows as part of the Furthur Festival. The band did not play live in 1999. Then, in 2000, Kreutzmann joined The Other Ones.[11] The band, with Kreutzmann, toured in 2000 and 2002.[12][13][14] In 2003, they changed their name to The Dead.[15] The Dead played a number of live concerts in 2003, 2004 and 2009.

Kreutzmann collaborated with Journey guitarist Neal Schon, Sy Klopps, Ira Walker, and Ralph Woodson to form the Trichromes in 2002. They released an EP, Dice with the Universe,[16] and an album, Trichromes.[17]

On December 17, 2005, Kreutzmann participated in the 17th Annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam as the drummer for SerialPod, a group which also included Phish members Trey Anastasio and Mike Gordon.[18][19]

During 2006, Kreutzmann teamed up with fellow Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart, Phish bassist Mike Gordon, and former The Other Ones guitarist Steve Kimock to form the Rhythm Devils. The band features songs from their respective former bands as well as new songs written by Jerry Garcia's songwriting companion Robert Hunter. The Rhythm Devils played their first tour in 2006, which ended at the popular Vegoose festival in Las Vegas, Nevada over the Halloween weekend. In 2008 they released a DVD called The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience.

In 2008, Bill Kreutzmann toured the eastern United States with bassist Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers Band and guitarist Scott Murawski of Max Creek as BK3.[20][21][22] In 2009 Oteil Burbridge was replaced by former Neville Brothers and longtime Bonnie Raitt bassist James "Hutch" Hutchinson. Hutchinson had performed with Kreutzmann, Papa Mali and keyboardist Matt Hubbard earlier in the year at a New Years Eve concert in Haiku on the island of Maui. Some 2009 shows also featured Donna the Buffalo singer/instrumentalist Tara Nevins. In February 2010 the trio played several concerts with Burbridge again assuming the bassist role.

On August 2, 2009, Kreutzmann played with Phish during most of the 2nd set at Red Rocks Amphitheatre.

In 2010, Kreutzmann formed a new band, called Tea Leaf Green.[23] 7 Walkers has recorded a studio album which was released on November 2, 2010.[24]

Kreutzmann is sometimes the guest drummer with the David Nelson Band when they tour Hawaii. This band includes David Nelson of the "New Riders of the Purple Sage", Pete Sears of Jefferson Starship, Barry Sless and Mookie Siegel. In late January 2012, he played several shows with this band on Maui and then on the Big Island of Hawaii, where they played at the Akebono Theater on February 3, the Lighthouse Deli in Hawi on the 4th and at the Kona Historical Society in Kealakekua on the 5th.

In October 2014 Kreutzmann announced that he had formed a new band, called Billy & the Kids, which would begin performing live in December. The other band members are Reed Mathis on bass, Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits on keyboards, and Tom Hamilton Jr. of American Babies on guitar and vocals.[25]

Kreutzmann's memoir, Deal: My Three Decades of Drumming, Dreams, and Drugs with the Grateful Dead, was published by St. Martin's Press on May 5, 2015.[26]

Visual arts

In 1995, Kreutzmann produced a film called Ocean Spirit. The film is a documentary about the six-week expedition that involved a 3,000-mile ocean voyage from San Francisco to the Revillagigedo Islands, 400 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Kreutzmann is featured in the film and was the executive producer. Wesley C. Skiles, noted underwater filmmaker, wrote and directed the project. "We went with no preconceived notions," says Kreutzmann, "except that we were committed to the concept of nonintrusive interaction. We were seeking a way to go beyond our own boundaries as human beings, to meet with the creatures of the sea on their terms. And I hoped somehow to combine film and music to capture that moment of contact."[27] The film has a strong environmental message and "exquisite photography", wrote John Metzger of the Music Box.[28]

Kreutzmann also does work as a visual artist that began in 1993 when he acquired his first computer, a Powerbook 540C with Photoshop installed. Jerry Garcia, already a proficient computer artist, taught Kreutzmann the basics. In 2001, he began releasing limited edition reproductions of his digital artwork. His work can be found at Walnut Street Gallery.[29]

Personal life

Kreutzmann instructing about drumming

Kreutzmann's son Justin is a film and video director.[30][31] He directed Backstage Pass, a 35-minute Grateful Dead music documentary video that was released in 1992, and Dead Ringers: The Making of Touch of Grey, a 30-minute documentary released in 1987.[32] In 2001 Justin assisted in the early stages of An Ox's Tale, a documentary about the late John Entwistle, bassist for The Who. Currently he maintains a blog called "Rock and Reel", which covers rock history and his current projects. Already having worked on numerous projects with Pete Townshend, he is the chief cameraman for Townshend's partner Rachel Fuller. Justin's recent works include Rock 'n' Roll Band, a concert film of the music group Tea Leaf Green,[33] and a film titled Fragments, a documentary of The Who's 2006–2007 tour.[34] He is one of the producers of a documentary film about the Grateful Dead planned for release some time in 2015, with Martin Scorsese as an executive producer.[35]

On October 29, 2010, Bill Kreutzmann endorsed Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana in California. Kreutzmann made the endorsement on the California Marijuana Report radio show. "I smoke marijuana and I'm not a criminal; please vote Yes on 19," Kreutzmann told Eric Brenner, the show's host. "Jerry Garcia would have voted Yes," he added.[36]


As band leader:

Grateful Dead:

Rhythm Devils:

With other artists:

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Scott, John W.; Dolgushkin, Mike; Nixon, Stu (1999). DeadBase XI: The Complete Guide to Grateful Dead Song Lists. Cornish, New Hampshire: DeadBase. p. 565.  
  3. ^ – Need We Say More? > Features > Bill Kreutzmann Remembers Jerry Garcia
  4. ^ William "Big Bill" Kreutzmann, Sr (1922–1995) – Find A Grave Memorial
  5. ^ Steven Stolder (January 11, 1998). Pop Quiz – Q & A with the Dead's Bill Kreutzmann", ''San Francisco Chronicle'', January 11, 1998""". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  6. ^ "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Drums". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  7. ^ "The Art of Rock and Roll". Walnut Street Gallery. Walnut Street Gallery. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Grateful Dead Inducted in 1994.". Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. he Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award". The Recording Academy. Retrieved November 10, 2014. 
  10. ^ John Metzger. "Metzger, John. ''Backbone'' review, ''The Music Box'', November 1998". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  11. ^ "Cooper, Scott. "Return of the Other Other One", ''Metro'' (Silicon Valley), August 24 – 30, 2000". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  12. ^ , October 7, 2002Rolling StoneDansby, Andrew. "Dead Come Alive as Other Ones", Archived May 8, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Ratliff, Ben. "Keeping Pace with Shades of the Dead", ''New York Times'', November 28, 2002". New York Times. November 28, 2002. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  14. ^ Selvin, Joel. , December 1, 2002San Francisco Chronicle"Other Ones Reunite",
  15. ^ "Selvin, Joel. "Marin Icons Now The Dead", ''San Francisco Chronicle'', February 12, 2003". February 12, 2003. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  16. ^ John Metzger. "Metzger, John. ''Dice with the Universe'' review, ''The Music Box'', April 2002". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  17. ^ John Metzger. "Metzger, John. ''TriChromes'' review, ''The Music Box'', September 2002". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  18. ^ "Kerr, Paul. "17th Annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam", JamBase, January 3, 2006". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  19. ^ "Clarke, Richard. "Warren Haynes 17th Annual Christmas Jam", ''Glide'' magazine, December 27, 2005". December 27, 2005. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  20. ^ "Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge & Scott Murawski Kick Off Tour May 28, 2008". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  21. ^ Budnick, Dean. "Let It Grow", Relix, August 2008, p. 49 – 52
  22. ^ Bill Kreutzmann's Trio – Keeping the Fire Burning", KyndMusic, November 7, 2008""". November 7, 2008. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  23. ^ Bill Kreutzmann Adds Dates with 7 Walkers",, March 16, 2010""". March 16, 2010. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  24. ^ "Lipshutz, Jason. "Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann Announces 7 Walkers Release", ''Billboard'', September 16, 2010". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  25. ^ "Bill Kreutzmann Announces Formation of Billy & the Kids", JamBase, October 8, 2014. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  26. ^ Associated Press (May 9, 2012). "Grateful Dead Drummer Writing Memoir", New Orleans Times-Picayune. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  27. ^ O'Brien, Richard. . Sports Illustrated. Retrieved November 12, 2014. 
  28. ^ John Metzger. "Metzger, John. ''Ocean Spirit'', ''The Music Box'', May/June 1995". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  29. ^ Bill Kreutzmann on The Art of Rock & Roll
  30. ^ Justin Kreutzmann on the Internet Movie Database
  31. ^ "Justin Kreutzmann interview on, December 5, 2005". December 5, 2005. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  32. ^ on DeadDisc.comDead Ringers: The Making of A Touch of Grey.
  33. ^ James Bolen (December 7, 2006). "Bolen, James. "Tea Leaf Green: Rock 'n' Roll Band", ''Houston Press'', December 7, 2006". Retrieved 2011-10-20. 
  34. ^ "The Who Documentary", MyMcMurray Rock 97.9
  35. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (October 23, 2014). "Martin Scorsese & Amir Bar-Lev Truckin' on Grateful Dead Documentary Film", Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  36. ^ "Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann Endorses Prop 19 Legalization". Toke of the Town. October 30, 2010. Retrieved 2011-10-20. 


  • Bill Kreutzmann biography on Allmusic
  • Bill Kreutzmann discography on
  • "About Bill Kreutzmann",
  • Bruner, Sarah. "Just a Guy Who Plays Drums: An Interview with Bill Kreutzmann",, March 1999
  • McKinley, Mike. "Conversation with Bill Kreutzmann", State of Mind Music, May 27, 2008
  • McNally, Dennis (2002). A Long Strange Trip: The Inside Story of the Grateful Dead. Broadway Books. ISBN 0-7679-1185-7.
  • Corbett, Ben. "Grateful Dead Drummer: In the Key of Kreutzmann", Crawdaddy!, May 22, 2009 (bad link)Copy of interview here:
  • Rock and Reel website
  • Bill Kreutzmann Artwork at Walnut Street Gallery
  • Perry, Shawn. "The Bill Kreutzmann Interview",

Further reading

  • Blatt, Ruth (June 25, 2015). "Grateful Dead Drummer Bill Kreutzmann On The Discipline Of Being Free".  

External links

  • Bill Kreutzmann – official website
  • Grateful Dead – official website
  • Community page – about Bill Kreutzmann
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