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Music

Bill Kreutzmann comments on Dead & Company absences

@TylerGolsen

If you’ve caught any of the shows on Dead & Company‘s 2022 summer tour, you might have seen a strange face sitting behind the stage right drum kit. That particular spot is usually occupied by original Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann, the man who played with the Dead for every single one of their 30 years together as a band. Lately, however, Kreutzmann has been a rare sight at Dead & Co shows.

In his place has been Jay Lane, the former Primus drummer who has spent years playing in various Grateful Dead offshoots with Bob Weir including RatDog and Furthur. Sometimes Kreutzmann will play one set while conceding the other to Lane, and other times Kreutzmann will sit out the entire show and let Lane take over.

Devoted fans know that Lane is a familiar and trusted face, considering how he first deputised for Kreutzmann back in 2021, but not seeing an original Dead drummer most nights has started to worry some fans. To ease them back in, Kreutzmann has released a statement on his social media addressing his absences from the band’s shows.

“Well, friends, I was hoping to be back in the saddle already, but since I’m not quite there yet, I thought I’d tell you exactly what’s going on,” Kreutzmann wrote. “No more speculation or rumours. I’m OK! It’s not my heart. And I’m not retiring! As most of you know, I had a back issue that suddenly appeared in Boulder, but I nipped it in the bud. Just as I was ready to come back full-strength, I pulled a positive on an antigen test.”

“Despite all the tour protocols that I took very seriously, it still got me. Darn it,” Kreutzmann continued. “My case was mild and – thankfully – I’m testing negative again. However my strength isn’t quite back to show level. But it gets closer every day. I miss seeing all of your faces. I haven’t thrown in the towel and I cannot wait for our joyful reunion. I love you all so much.”

There had been speculation among fans about Kreutzmann’s condition, but those who follow the drummer on social media see that he’s still travelling with the band. Now it appears that Kreutzmann is making game-time decisions regarding whether he can physically play and how much he can do on any given night, with Lane at the ready to step in when necessary.

Dead & Company have three more shows scheduled for their current summer run, including one tonight in Burgettstown, Pennsylvania and a two-night closing stand at Citi Field in New York City this Friday and Saturday.

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