Grateful Dead, John Mayer Promote Pot Legalization on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'

By May Wilkerson 05/12/16

Dead & Company hoped that their guerrilla-style publicity tactics would generate buzz without breaking laws or offending mainstream TV audiences.

Grateful Dead, John Mayer Promote Pot Legalization on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'
Photo via Jimmy Kimmel Live/YouTube

The Grateful Dead is going back on tour, and this time, they'll perform alongside singer-songwriter John Mayer. Ahead of its summer tour schedule, the new ensemble, who call themselves Dead & Company, took the stage on Tuesday's episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! to promote marijuana legalization.

According to the LA Times, Dead & Company invited at least 300 marijuana advocates to the performance—including members of the California Cannabis Industry Association and the LA medical pot collective, Buds & Roses—encouraging them to wear weed-themed apparel and carry signs to get the pro-pot message across to a mainstream audience, leading up to election season. 

“The folks it would be hitting on that broadcast would be outside our normal sphere of influence,” said Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead. “We're about music, but we're about other stuff as well, and we always have been. We need to make our feelings on the subject as apparent as we can.” The other members of the California jam band in Dead & Company are Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann.

The new group performed four songs in the parking lot behind El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood on Tuesday, as part of a summer concert series on the late-night talk show, to a crowd peppered with tie-dye t-shirts. In February, Dead & Company announced their upcoming summer tour across the U.S.—starting at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in June and ending at Boston's Fenway Park in July.

The band originally considered having its Kimmel appearance sponsored by marijuana advocacy groups, but according to the Times, the idea never came to be—which is not surprising, since the legality of marijuana advertising under federal broadcasting rules is still murky. Dead & Company hoped that its guerrilla-style publicity tactic would generate buzz without breaking laws or offending mainstream TV audiences. 

“They're respectful advocates, and they're very thoughtful in their approach to this entire industry,” the band’s co-manager, Bernie Cahill, told the Times. “I don't see that changing.” Marijuana is prohibited on a federal level in the United States, though a growing number of states have legalized it for medical or recreational use. In California, where Jimmy Kimmel Live! is filmed, weed is legal for medical use. This November election, California voters will have a chance to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Check out Dead & Company's performance of "Bertha" below:

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.