Mickey Hart is widely considered to be America’s Ambassador of Rhythm and Percussion to the world. His resume for such a title is extremely solid and uniquely powerful. He is of course best known as half of the tandem “Rhythm Devils,” the driving force behind the legendary rock and roll band the Grateful Dead. For nearly 30 years, he and Bill Kreutzman would spiral around each other in a nightly rhythmic exploration deep into the soul and spirit of percussion.
By 1991, Mickey’s pursuit for knowledge and enlightenment afforded by the ancient music of indigenous cultures and civilizations led him to assemble the Planet Drum group and record and release an album of the same name. Planet drum would spend 26 weeks as #1 on Billboard’s World Music chart and win a Grammy for Best World Music Album. In 1994 he and the rest of the Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Mickey has composed music for the television and film industries, including the visceral drumming for the movie Apocalypse Now. In 1996 he composed percussion music for 100 players to perform at the Opening Ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. He has also penned 4 books seeking to illuminate the connection between rhythm and our innate physiology.
Mickey’s efforts in the greater ethnomusical community have been substantial. In 2002 he established The Endangered Music Fund for the purpose of returning royalty payments to those indigenous people who had their music recorded and released internationally. He has appeared before Congress many times to speak as an expert about rhythm and its healing value for the elderly, and is a member of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function at Beth Abraham hospital. With his appointment by the Library of Congress to the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center, Mickey heads a committee designed to digitize and preserve their huge collection of musical archives and was conferred an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters by the Saybrook Research Center for these efforts.
In 2004, Mickey assembled a cast of many of the most prominent players in the world to lead what would become The Guinness Book world record for largest drum circle. The event took place at the Earthdance Festival in Laytonville, California and included 4504 people. Many HandMade Rhythm ashikos graced the 360 degree stage for the event.