Mickey Hart was born on September 11, 1943, in Brooklyn, New York City. He is best known for his nearly three decades as a fundamental part of the influential rock band the Grateful Dead. As half of the percussion unit known as the Rhythm Devils, Mickey and Bill Kreutzmann went beyond the conventions of rock drumming. Their extended polyrhythmic excursions were highlights of Grateful Dead shows, introducing the band’s audience to an ever-growing set of percussion instruments from around the world. Exposure to these exotic sounds fueled Mickey’s desire to learn about the various cultures that produced them.
Hart’s tireless study of the world’s music led him to many great teachers and collaborators including his partners in Planet Drum. The self-titled Planet Drum album not only hit #1 on the Billboard World Music Chart remaining there for 26 weeks it also received the Grammy for Best World Music Album in 1991- the first Grammy ever awarded in this category.
Planet Drum was one of twenty-nine recordings released on Mickey Hart’s The World series on Rykodisc Records. The World offered a wide variety of music from virtually every comer of the globe with releases like Voices of the Rainforest from Papua New Guinea and Living Art Sounding Spirit: The Bali Sessions.
Mickey’s experiences have led to unique opportunities beyond the music industry. He composed a major drum production performed by an assembly of 100 percussionists for the opening ceremony of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Additionally Mickey has composed scores soundtracks and themes for movies and television including Apocalypse Now Gang Related Hearts of Darkness The Twilight Zone the 1987 score to The Americas Cup the Walter Cronkite Report and Vietnam A Television History arvdr The Next Step. In 1994 Mickey along with all the members of the Grateful Dead was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Mickey’s lifelong fascination with the history and mythology of music is documented in four books: Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion Planet Drum Spirit into Sound: The Magic of Music and Songcatchers: In Search of the Worlds Music written in collaboration with National Geographic.
In 1999 Mickey was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. In October of 2000 the Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters upon Mickey for his work in advancing the preservation of aural archives.
Mickey is the 2003 Recipient of The Music Has Power Award by The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function part of the Beth Abraham Family of Health Services.
Mickey is the recipient of the 2004 Governors Award presented by NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences).
On Sept. 18 2004 Mickey set a new Guinness World Record for the largest drum circle with 454 drummers.
Mickey Hart served for twelve years on the American Folklife Center (AFC) Board of Trustees and helped to establish the “Save Our Sounds project a collaboration between the AFC and the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. He also served on the Smithsonian Folkways advisory board in the late 1980s where he was instrumental in shaping digitization strategy for the Moses and Frances Asch Folkways Records Collection and served as technical director for The Original Vision the initial Smithsonian Folkways reissue of Woody Guthrie and Lead Belly recordings. Hart also digitally remastered the Smithsonian Folkways album Hawaiian Drum Dance Chants and with Thomas Vennum Jr. supervised sound duplication for the album Navajo Songs.
In 2011 Mickey Hart made an agreement with Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to release the world music recordings known as The Mickey Hart Collection.’ The plan is to preserve and further the Grateful Dead percussionist’s endeavor to cross borders and expand musical horizons. Smithsonian Folkways will make many of Mickey Hart‘s music projects available digitally (stream and download) for the first time while keeping physical versions in print as on-demand CDs.
The Mickey Hart Collection started with 25 albums drawn from The World, a series Hart curated that incorporated his solo projects other artists’ productions and re-releases of out-of-print titles. Six of the twenty-five albums form the “Endangered Music Project”, a collaboration between Mickey Hart and the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress which presents recordings from musical traditions at risk. Both The World and The Endangered Music Project were previously distributed by Rykodisc from 1988 to 2002. Hart co-produced The Endangered Music Project with Alan Jabbour former Director of the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress.
The Mickey Hart Collection‘ offers a wide variety of music from virtually every corner of the globe recorded in a diverse range of locations from the Nubian Desert to the Papua New Guinea rainforest. “Music is our talking book our portal to the spirit world. I hope you will enjoy these audio snapshots of my musical journey ,” Hart said. “It’s an honor to have my recordings at Smithsonian Folkways alongside the greatest songcatchers of our time.”
Today, Hart continues his extensive Grateful Dead career with fellow original bandmates Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann — and now with John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chementi — in Dead & Company. The supergroup’s 2016 summer tour sold out shows nationwide in the United States, garnering acclaim from critics, Deadheads, and new fans alike.
Rolling Thunder (Warner Brothers BS2635 1972)
Diga Rhythm Band (1976)
The Rhythm Devils Play River Music with The Rhythm Devils (Passport Records PB 9844, 1980)
Dafos Mickey Hart Airto Moreira Flora Purim (Reference Recordings RR-1, 1983)
Yamantaka with Mickey Hart Henry Wolff Nancy Hennings (Celestial Harmonies Records, 1983)
Music to be Born By (Rykodisc, 1989)
At the Edge (Rykodisc, 1990)
Planet Drum (Rykodisc, 1991)
The Apocalypse Now Sessions with The Rhythm Devils (1991)
Mickey Hart’s Mystery Box (Rykodisc, 1996)
Spirit into Sound (2000)
The Best of Mickey Hart: Over the Edge and Back (Rykodisc, 2002)
Global Drum Project, with Zakir Hussain Sikiru Adepoju Giovanni Hidalgo (Shout Factory 2007)
Mysterium Tremendum (2012)
Superorganism (Empire, 2013)
Planet Drum, 25th Anniversary edition (Universal, 2016)
The Rhythm Devils Concert Experience DVD (2008)
Drumming at the Edge of Magic: A Journey into the Spirit of Percussion (1990)
Planet Drum: A Celebration of Percussion and Rhythm (1991)
Songcatchers: In Search of the Worlds Music (National Geographic 2003)
Spirit into Sound: The Magic of Music (2006)