It’s been a long, strange trip for the Grateful Dead on the Billboard charts, dating back to 1968 when the first of their 45 albums hit the Billboard 200.
After several psychedelic albums, the San Francisco-based band made a left turn toward country-rock. The Dead’s back-to-back albums Workingman’s Dead (1970) and American Beauty (1971) produced their first radio hits — “Uncle John’s Band” (No. 69 on the Billboard Hot 100) from the former and the band’s best-known song, “Truckin’,” (No. 64) and “Sugar Magnolia” (No. 91), from the latter.
While significant radio play eluded the band for the next 16 years, their albums routinely cracked the top 20 of the Billboard 200, including Wake of the Flood (No. 18), Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel (No. 16) and Blues for Allah (No. 12) from 1973 to 1975. “The Music Never Stopped” from the latter disc peaked at No. 81 on the Hot 100.
This fruitful period continued with Shakedown Street (No. 41 on the Billboard 200) in 1979 and Go to Heaven (No. 23) in 1980, which included the funky “Alabama Getaway” (No. 68 on the Hot 100). But as they toured the country followed by their loyal Deadhead supporters, the Dead recorded less frequently.
When In the Dark came out in 1987, their first studio album in seven years, the Dead had their biggest success: a Top 10 album (No. 6) and a No. 9 single with “Touch of Grey.”
Two years later, Built to Last (No. 27) would be their final studio effort. After more than 20 years, the Grateful Dead may have ceased recording as a unit, but the music would never stop.
In all, the band has charted 82 titles on the Billboard 200, many via the Dave’s Picks archival series that began with Dave’s Picks Volume 1 in February 2012. In 2017 alone, The Dead has charted four of these albums in the Billboard 200’s top 40, following six in 2016.