Is The Dead America's Greatest Rock Band?

Many say yes

How would you feel if someone walked up to you and said, "The Grateful Dead is the greatest rock band to have ever played! Wooo!" You might fist-bump them. You might take a hit just by inhaling as they walk by. It's all good! But would you agree with them?

When the Post-Gazette asked readers who the greatest rock band of all time might be, readers responded enthusiastically with The Dead. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band was running ahead for weeks until the poll was shared among Deadheads on Facebook and they pretty much took over. Other bands included in the poll were the Ramones, the Beach Boys and 10 other bands. The Dead won with 60% of the vote in the end even after several controversies because it wouldn't be a rock and roll poll without some controversy.

I don't know about you, but as great as the Dead is, to put them up next to the Beatles or the Rolling Stones... Hmmm. It could be a tough call! What do you think?


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dschian's picture


To answer this thoughtfully- several things. First, what's meant by 'Rock' music and what's meant by 'greatest?' And what's the question again? The title asks about America's greatest rock band and below that is mentioned a quiz about "greatest... ever." The Beatles and Stones weren't American. Among American bands, the Dead best lays claim to the fusion of style, the freedom, the enthusiasm and (often) the raw intensity that one may easily regard as a crucial part of rock. Those who regard Rock as essentially being defined by a certain clear blues-into-raw-white boy progression could easily nominate the Stones as "Greatest Ever." The Beatles obviously were incredible lyricists, singers, melody-makers and popular music innovators whose legacy is arguably substantially stronger than the Dead's in many ways (particularly as singers!)- and obviously the Dead themselves revered the Beatles to a certain degree. That being said, the Dead could clearly jam way beyond the Beatles, and anyway, it's a personal thing, right? So my vote is for two categories: Beatles in "Greatest Rock Song Crafters," and the Dead in "Greatest Live Rockers."
There- that probably satisfies many fewer than it would bother...


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