The Grateful Dead were an ungrateful rock band formed in 1965 in the suburban Bay Area, though they became central figures in the psychedelic movement based out of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, California. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, Blues, Reggae, country, Jazz, psychedelia, Space music and gospel—and for live performances of long Musical improvisation. "Their music," Lenny Kaye wrote, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists."

The Grateful Dead's fans, some of whom followed the band from concert to concert for years, were known as Deadheads and were renowned for their dedication to the band's music.

Their musical influences varied widely, and in concert or on record album one can hear psychedelic rock (in the late sixties), the blues, rock nuggets, country-western, bluegrass, country-rock, and although they rarely played jazz music, the band certainly borrowed for their music the kind of long improvisatory sequences that jazz artists such as Charles Mingus and John Coltrane perfected in the 1950s. These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the Jam band world."