Bobby and The Midnights was a band formed in the early 1980s, led by Bob Weir, one of the founding members of the Grateful Dead. The band's name referred to Weir's nickname "Bobby" and the time of day when they performed, which was usually after midnight.
The group was a side project for Weir, who had been a part of the Grateful Dead for over 15 years at the time. With Bobby and The Midnights, he was able to explore new musical styles and collaborate with other musicians.
The original lineup of the band included Weir on guitar and vocals, keyboardist Brent Mydland (also of the Grateful Dead), bassist Alphonso Johnson, drummer Billy Cobham, and saxophonist Kenny Gradney. The group released their debut album, simply titled "Bobby and The Midnights," in 1981.
The album showcased the band's eclectic style, which combined elements of rock, funk, R&B, and jazz. Weir's songwriting was also on full display, with tracks like "Book of Rules" and "Josephine" standing out as highlights.
The band's live performances were also noteworthy, featuring extended jams and improvisation. Weir's guitar playing was as impressive as ever, and the addition of Mydland's keyboards and Gradney's saxophone gave the group a unique sound.
Despite the talent of the musicians involved, the group's debut album was not a commercial success. It only reached number 118 on the Billboard 200 chart and received mixed reviews from critics.
Undeterred, the band continued to tour and record. They released their second album, "Where the Beat Meets the Street," in 1984. This album featured a slightly different lineup, with Mydland and Johnson being replaced by keyboardist Bobby Cochran and bassist Dave Schallock, respectively.
"Where the Beat Meets the Street" continued in the same vein as the first album, with catchy songs and impressive instrumental performances. The album's standout track was "Easy to Slip," a cover of a Little Feat song that became a fan favorite.
Despite the quality of their music, Bobby and The Midnights struggled to gain traction in the music industry. Weir's association with the Grateful Dead may have worked against the band, as many critics and fans saw it as a side project rather than a serious endeavor.
After the release of their second album, the band went on hiatus. Weir returned to the Grateful Dead, while other members pursued other projects.
Although Bobby and The Midnights never achieved the same level of success as the Grateful Dead, their music continues to be appreciated by fans. The band's style was ahead of its time, blending genres and pushing the boundaries of what was considered rock music.
Weir's songwriting was particularly noteworthy, as he tackled a range of topics and emotions. The band's lyrics often dealt with themes of love, loss, and longing, and Weir's delivery was always heartfelt.
In hindsight, it's clear that Bobby and The Midnights were an important part of Weir's musical journey. The band allowed him to explore new sounds and collaborate with other talented musicians, and their music remains a testament to his creativity and passion.
While the band may not have reached the same level of success as the Grateful Dead, their legacy lives on. For fans of Weir's music, Bobby and The Midnights offers a glimpse into an often-overlooked chapter in his storied career.