Mickey Hart joined the Grateful Dead in 1967 as a second drummer and percussionist, joining existing drummer Bill Kreutzmann - the two soon became known as the 'rhythm devils', and their interplay became a vital part of the band's sound. However Hart actually left the Dead to go on sabbatical in early 1971, and was absent for many of their best releases (including the live albums Skull & Roses and Europe '72). Free from the band's busy touring schedule, he found the time to record a solo album, released the same year that Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir also put out their debuts. Rolling Thunder was an interesting mix of rock and world music, focusing heavily on percussion. Hart has never been just a drummer, but a keen enthusiast for all things percussive and all global music traditions. This was showcased heavily on Rolling Thunder, making it distinctly different from the solo albums of his band-mates. Among the musicians it featured were fellow San Francisco rockers Sam Andrew (of Big Brother & The Holding Company), Barry Melton (of Country Joe & The Fish), John Cipollina and David Freiburg (of Quicksilver Messenger Service), Paul Kantner and Grace Slick (of Jefferson Airplane), Stephen Stills, and his bandmates Garcia, Weir and Phil Lesh. It also had appearances from Indian tabla players Zakir Hussain and Alla Rakha, and the Tower of Power horn section.
Two songs featured on Rolling Thunder were also part of the Grateful Dead's live show - "Playing In The Band" had first appeared on Skull & Roses the year before, and "Pump Song" appeared the same year as "Greatest Story Ever Told" on Bob Weir's Ace (as did a more polished version of "Playing In The Band").
Mickey Hart's sabbatical lasted a few years, but he rejoined the Grateful Dead in 1974, and remained with them until their dissolution in 1995.
|> Diga (1976)