Grateful Dead Break Billboard Record Almost 30 Years After Disbanding

Three decades after the untimely demise of Jerry Garcia, the Grateful Dead are still making music history by beating out Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Barbara Streisand and others for the most top 40 album releases of all time.
Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead have made Billboard chart history despite not being a band for nearly 30 years, with the greatest number of top 40 albums to ever make the Billboard 200.

According to Billboard, the release of Dave’s Picks, Volume 49: Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford U., Palo Alto, CA (4/27/85 & 4/28/85) debuted at number 25 on the charts making the total number of top 40 releases in the Dead’s repertoire at 59, surpassing both Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley who were previously tied for the record at 58.

“Dave’s Picks” is a series of live recordings of old Grateful Dead shows put together by archivist David Lemiex, who will celebrate his 25’th year of working with the band this year. These albums are responsible for 41 of the 59 top 40 debuts and have all been released well after the 1995 death of Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia in 1995. The latest release in this series sold 21,000 of the 25,000 printed album units which were all exclusively sold through Official Grateful Dead channels.

“This could be the most unlikely and unexpected record in music history, and is a testament to a few things,” Lemieux said in a press release. “First and foremost is the exceptional and consistent quality of the Grateful Dead’s more than 2,000 live shows. On the heels of this is the loyalty and passion of the many Dead Heads who have made this record possible. And to top it off, the Grateful Dead have a partnership with Rhino that ensures these many album releases are produced with care, love, and respect for both the band’s music and legacy, and the Dead Heads themselves.”

Even decades after disbanding the Grateful Dead has maintained a powerful presence among their fan base which seems to grow larger every day. Dead-themed merchandise and products stretch into every sector of the economy, especially among the emerging legal cannabis community. “Dead and Company,” a Grateful Dead cover/spin-off band formed by three former Dead members and others including John Mayer have been credited with spreading Grateful Dead music to a younger audience. Their tour last year saw over 840,000 attendees with over 120,000 at the final San Francisco show alone.

“It’s an honor and privilege to work for this community, and our aim is to keep building on this record by delivering the quality of recordings Dead Heads have come to expect for many years ahead,” Lemieux said. “It is truly remarkable to witness the Grateful Dead’s enduring legacy and profound impact.”

Mark Pinkus, President of Rhino, reinforced Lemieux’s sentiments in a statement, intimating that the success of these album releases is proof of the real, tangible influence the Dead perpetuated with their music. 

“Their music and culture transcend time, and this groundbreaking achievement is a testament to their ongoing influence. Rhino is honored to continue to share their meaningful and magical music with Dead Heads, both old and new,” Pinkus said.

Bernie Cahill, Founding Partner of Activist Artists Management and manager of the Grateful Dead said in a statement that the release of Dave’s Picks Volume 49 was a reminder that the Grateful Dead reinvented the way live shows were performed and remembered, as is evidenced by the immense popularity of the live recordings among their fanbase.

“This remarkable achievement speaks not only to the genius and vision of the Grateful Dead, it is also a reminder of their truly epic live shows that reinterpreted their great American songbook every single time they took the stage! Simply put, this is another incredible milestone for a band who has never compromised, and has always done everything on their own terms,” Cahill said.

Dead and Company’s final tour was supposed to be in 2023 but they announced at the end of the tour they likely were not done, shortly thereafter announcing a string of 24 shows at the Las Vegas sphere (which currently boasts a giant deadhead image on its outer shell) from May 16 to July 16 of 2024. Dave’s Picks Vol. 50 (Palladium, New York City – 5/3/77) is slated for release in April.

  1. In the photo above the article, seated to Jerry’s left if I’m right looks like Senator Patrick Leahy hope I spelled correctly, anyway he was a huge fan and was interviewed just after Jerry’s passing about his feelings for Garcia and the band🥀🎶🌍✌️😎

  2. I’ve seen the Dead preform live for years. I honestly believe all the accolades earned by the Greatful Dead are testimony to the power their music has on mankind! Well done boys!

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