Grateful Dead's Billboard triumph: Deadheads help the band break a record

The Grateful Dead has broken a Billboard record, and may continue doing so...even in the era of pop, rap, and Taylor Swift
Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh. Music File Photos - The 1970s - by Chris Walter
Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh. Music File Photos - The 1970s - by Chris Walter / Chris Walter/GettyImages

In case you didn't hear, on February 4th, 2024, Taylor Swift won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year for an unprecedented fourth time for her album Midnights. However, what you might not hear about quite so much: Just a day following Taylor Swift's groundbreaking moment at the Grammy Awards, an iconic band, whose roots stretch far back before Swift's time, has further etched its own chapter in music history.

The Grateful Dead, a legendary ensemble, has now clinched the record for the highest number of Top 40 albums on the Billboard 200 chart. Surpassing both Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra, the Grateful Dead stands tall with 59 entries in the Top 40 as of Monday. In other words, The Grateful Dead keeps on truckin'...

Their latest achievement came with the debut of Dave’s Picks, Volume 49: Frost Amphitheatre, Stanford U., Palo Alto, CA (4/27/85 & 4/28/85) at No. 25 on the chart. Notably, Elvis and Sinatra are tied with each other at 58 albums each. This feat is particularly remarkable given that the band disbanded following the passing of Jerry Garcia in 1995. What's even more extraordinary is that 41 of the Grateful Dead's 59 Top 40 entries have occurred since 2012, largely owing to the popularity of the series of archival albums curated by David Lemieux.

Why are the Grateful Dead still breaking records?

In a statement, Lemieux attributed this recent milestone to the band's extensive recording of live performances and the unwavering dedication of their fanbase, known as "Deadheads" (always in pursuit of "The Vibe"). He mused that this achievement could arguably be deemed the most unexpected record in music history.

The band's dominance on the charts might only strengthen further: Another installment in the Dave’s Picks series is slated for release in April. This upcoming volume will capture the magic of the Grateful Dead's May 1977 performances at the Palladium in New York City, hinting at the possibility of extending their record-breaking streak. Even for non-Dead Heads, it seems there could be something impressive about a band's ability to maintain such a loyal fanbase.