In addition to rewiring parts of the American songbook for a new, psychedelic generation, and creating classics of their own, the Dead also created an entire cultural zeitgeist that continues it long strange trip today.
The Beatles go without saying. End of story.
The Dead, buy using age old concepts from Eastern philosophies, proved more radical than the rest. They made it a point of staying away from formulaic, pop culture 3 minute songs. They toured first, THEN recorded an album. They invited tapers to the shows, PROVIDING them access to the sound boards! Then, they made this available encouraging trading for free, or at most, the cost of reproduction. The beginnings of shareware and viral marketing. ...
just look at their charity work as well as their history
They embodied the counterculture spirit through their music.
because they absorbed so many different influences to produce their unique sound, developed their careers on their own terms, and toured so extensively for such a long period, all to bring the sheer, simple joy and bliss of music to so many...
Merged blues, psychedelic, jamming, jazz, improvisation, country, rock, and great lyrics. Made political statements without being obviously political (like Shostakovich). Touched and reached hundreds of millions, changed and transformed music and generations of people. Integrated art and lighting as well. Played the trips festival and had thousands follow them for large parts of their lives across 3 generations.
shared music before Apple made a fortune on it along peace & love...
I think they influenced a change in lifestyle socially and crossover possibilities musically.