Rock Band digs up Grateful Dead

Eighteen master tracks from hippie phenomenon will be available for digital download via Harmonix and MTV Games' upcoming rhythm title, including "Truckin'" and "Casey Jones."

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Jerry Garcia's death in 1995 nailed shut the coffin on the phenomenon that was the Grateful Dead. For the previous 30 years, the jam band he fronted had numerous hits, with 11 gold, four platinum, and three double-platinum records. It also was on tour virtually nonstop, trailed by thousands of loyal fans known as Deadheads. The band became a symbol of the psychedelic culture of the 1960s, and its various icons--dancing teddy bears and blue-and-red-adorned skulls--remain required insignia on the hippie uniform.

Now, 12 years after his demise, the beard that sold a million Birkenstocks is being dug up--in video game form. Today, MTV Games and Harmonix announced that the Grateful Dead will appear in the forthcoming rhythm game Rock Band. Some 18 master recordings of the group's biggest hits--including "Truckin'," "Uncle John's Band," "Touch of Grey," "Sugar Magnolia," and "Casey Jones"--will be made available for the game on license from Rhino Records. The songs will "be available as digitally distributed game levels following Rock Band's release this holiday season," according to MTV Games.

The Grateful Dead becomes the third famous musical act whose master recordings will be available for digital distribution via Rock Band. At the E3 Media & Business Summit in July, MTV Games announced that original songs from The Who and Metallica could also be downloaded in the forthcoming rhythm game for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. At last month's Games Convention in Germany, a PlayStation 2 edition was revealed, but it was not mentioned in today's Grateful Dead announcement.

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