The Grateful Dead reached an unusual album-sales milestone on Feb. 5, as the jam-band progenitors notched their 59th album in the Top 40 of the Billboard 200 album chart. With this, the Dead have surpassed Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley as the artist with the most Top 40 albums in the history of the US record industry.
Of course, the Dead only released 13 studio albums during their initial run, with the final one coming in 1989. But if you know anything about the Dead, you’ll know that those studio sets are only the tip of the tip of the iceberg, with a whole universe of live albums and bootlegs that have been keeping the group’s diehards busy for decades. The group’s latest charting record is the 49th edition of the live series Dave’s Picks, this one featuring a 1985 Dead show from Stanford, Calif.’s Frost Amphitheater.
Dave’s Picks Volume 49 entered the Billboard chart at No. 25.
David Lemieux, the archivist who curates the namesake series, noted in a statement that the Dead’s milestone “could be the most unlikely and unexpected record in music history.”
“It’s an honor and privilege to work for this community,” he wrote, “and our aim is to keep building on this record by delivering the quality of recordings Deadheads have come to expect for many years ahead.”
(The initial standard-bearer for Dead live albums was the Dick’s Picks series, curated by Dick Latvala until his death in 1999, with Lemieux taking the unofficial mantle of Curator-in-Chief afterward, responsible for subsequent Dick’s Picks releases and later the Dave’s Picks series.)
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While the Grateful Dead’s long trip officially ended with the death of Jerry Garcia in 1995, the surviving members have been carrying the torch with various spin-offs and splinter bands for decades ever since. The most recent incarnation, Dead & Company, featuring original guitarist/singer Bob Weir and next-gen Deadhead John Mayer, recently announced a reunion residency at the Sphere in Las Vegas.
The group played what was billed as a “final” tour in 2023, closing with a set of mammoth concerts in San Francisco. Last week, however, the group teased a return with a video saying: “In 2023, Dead & Company played their final tour. But there are other ways to make sure the music never stops. And it’s gonna be a ball.”
Dates for the Vegas residency have yet to be announced. However, the 50th Dave’s Picks volume is due out in April.