Controversy with John Meyer and Dead & Company


Photo from Wikimedia Commons

After the death of Jerry Garcia (lead singer and guitarist of the Grateful Dead) there has been a search to find someone who can act as a replacement to fill that role. With the merge of John Meyer, Jeff Chimenti and Oteil Burbridge the new band named “Dead and Company” started to emerge, but there is no performer that will ever be able to replace the sound that Jerry was able to create with the Grateful Dead.  


 The sounds of the new band are a little off compared to the old records such as  “Althea” that Jerry and the Dead created. If John Meyer has taken this position to replace the sound of Jerry and imitate the singing and playing that he created that will never work. Each musician has their own style and the style of Jerry Garcia will never be replicated. 


Listening to the different sounds of both bands there is a clear difference in the way that Jerry leads the band compared to how John Meyer plays with them. The Grateful Dead songs have a major diversity from rock to folk with Jerry being able to change his playing and lead the band through solos or the style of singing to fit the genre. In songs such as “Box of Rain” Jerry is able to play a style of music that is steered towards folk contrasting a song such as “Shakedown Street” that has more of a rock style. John Meyer, on the other hand, brings in a style that the Dead has really never experienced which is this jazzy pop that is a major switch from the classic music. During the song “Dire Wolf” John Meyer’s guitar was spot on but the singing almost sounded like he was trying to impersonate the sound of Jerry defeating the purpose to let his music stay as it is. 


When the band announced John Meyer there was some controversy if a pop star should be one of the main faces for Dead and Company based on the fact how different the styles of music are. The Grateful Dead have never been a pop band and their sounds would never be able to blend in with pop music. If John Meyer is able to incorporate his style of music that won’t completely change the sound of the Dead but give it a twist that might benefit newer listeners. On the other hand, John Meyer has a lot of style that he can bring to the band expanding the sounds and bringing new audiences to their genre. With the jazz folk mix this new sound doesn’t have any other bands like them letting them stand out in the sea of musicians. Throughout the songs that he has already played there is a new type of music that the Dead are producing due to the fact that John Meyer has opened their realm of genres. 


During the beginning of the merge John Meyer seemed to care about the small details that affected only him in the band. These include longer solos to try and make himself stand out and changing the pitch of the lyrics way off the original songs making it almost unrecognizable at some parts. Now we are seeing John Meyer bring in new ideas to help add variety to the band with other sounds and small changes. When John Meyer can find the happy medium it will drastically change the bands sound and appeal to more audiences.


John Meyer will never be able to replace or mimic the sounds that Jerry Garcia created, but he has to continue to bring in his own style of music to help diversify the band