Mickey Hart

marimba

Mickey Hart (b. 1943), real name Michael Steven Hartman, is an American percussionist and musicologist. He is best known as one of the two drummers of the rock band the Grateful Dead. He and fellow Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann earned the nickname ‘the rhythm devils.’ Before joining the Grateful Dead, Hart and his father, Leonard Hart, a champion rudimental drummer, owned and operated Hart Music, selling drums and musical instruments in San Carlos, California. Hart joined the Grateful Dead in 1967, and left in 1971 when he extricated himself from the band, due to conflict between band management and Mickey’s father. During his sabbatical, in 1972, he recorded the album ‘Rolling Thunder.’ He returned to the Dead in 1974, and remained with the group until their official dissolution in 1995. Collaboration with the remaining members of the Grateful Dead continues, under the band name The Dead.

Alongside his work with the Grateful Dead, Mickey Hart has flourished as a solo artist, percussionist, and the author of several books. In these endeavors he has pursued a lifelong interest in ethnomusicology and in world music. His travels and his interest in all things percussion-related led him to collect percussion instruments, and to collaborate with percussion masters the world over.

Hart became interested in percussion as a grade-school student. A few months out of high school he discovered the work of Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, who later taught Hart and collaborated with him and the Grateful Dead on a regular basis.

Hart was influential in recording global musical traditions on the verge of possible extinction, working with archivists and ethnomusicologists at both the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution. He is on the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center and has been a spokesperson for the Save Our Sounds audio preservation initiative. He also serves on the Library of Congress National Recorded Sound Preservation Board and is known for reissues and other recordings with historical and cultural value.

Hart has written books on the history and traditions of drumming throughout history. His solo recordings (featuring a variety of guest musicians) are percussive of course, but also verge on New Age music categorically. His enthusiasm for world music traditions and preservation and collaborative efforts is comparable to that of guitarist Ry Cooder.

In 2000, Hart became a member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to seek to establish new knowledge and develop more effective therapies which awaken, stimulate and heal through the extraordinary power of music – continuing his investigation into the connection between healing and rhythm, and the neural basis of rhythm.

During 2006, Hart teamed up with fellow Grateful Dead bandmate Bill Kreutzmann, Phish bassist Mike Gordon and former The Other Ones lead guitarist Steve Kimock, to form the Rhythm Devils, a nickname that refers to Hart and Kreutzmann’s legendary drum solos and improvisation. The band features songs from their respective repertoires as well as new songs written by Jerry Garcia’s songwriting companion Robert Hunter.

In 2010 Hart debuted ‘Rhythms of the Universe,’ a composition based on a variety of astrophysical data. The composition represents a collaboration between scientist and artist, using their own sophisticated tools. Nobel Laureate in physics George Smoot from the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Keith Jackson, a computer scientist and musician also from the LBNL, are providing some of the data for the project. The final result will be a musical ‘history of the universe,’ from the Big Bang onwards through galaxy and star formation, up until modern times, including images from the Hubble Space Telescope and rhythms derived from the cosmic background radiation, supernovae, quasars, and many other astrophysical phenomena.

One Comment to “Mickey Hart”

  1. hey, how ya doin’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.