Grateful Dead's Mickey Hart on Bringing Back Jerry Garcia for His Strangest Solo Album Yet

Marc Nader/ZUMA Wire
Hart onstage in 2016.

Since Rolling Thunder in 1972, percussionist Mickey Hart has been the Grateful Dead’s most prolific -- and most inventive -- solo artist. His latest album, RAMU (out Nov. 3), named after the musical device he created, combines archival samples, funky polyrhythms and rich melodies into a sonic tapestry. Hart explains how he creates a sound separate from the Dead.

CREATE COOL TOYS

“RAMU, the instrument, stands for Random Access Musical Universe. It’s a digital database that brings universes together that [are] normally autonomous.”

DIVE INTO ARCHIVES

“I created songs built around archival recordings from the Library of Congress just waiting to be discovered. I’ve found things that never coexisted before.”

STIR THE POT

“There’s a political side [to the album], which was very important to me, considering who’s in the White House. That was great stimulus; Mr. Trump is a great inspiration.”

BRING BACK JERRY

“My archivist [found] a 1987 recording of [the Dead’s Jerry Garcia] messing around with his MIDI synth on guitar. I put a groove with it -- and Jerry [returns].”

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 18 issue of Billboard.