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Grateful Dead’s Mickey Hart on drugs, his new art tour – and why many Republicans are true fans

It wasn’t just music. It was a movement. An experience. An archaeology of folklore. An awakening.

That’s what catapulted the Grateful Dead from its California counterculture roots of the 1960s into one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Known not just for their rhythms and live shows, the band became just as famous for openly discussing their use of drugs to transform music, and entice their audiences into a kind of collective trance during performances.

Deadheads – as their dedicated fan base was labeled – often went on tour with the band as they traversed the country, with true fans clocking up dozens – and some even hundreds – of shows. Even today, more than two decades after the death of band leader Jerry Garcia, live recordings of the Grateful Dead are still at the top of Deadheads’ playlists.

Somewhat counterintuitively, perhaps, among the most prominent and devoted group of Deadheads are Republicans, conservatives and libertarians.

“Music is above politics. It crosses party lines,” Mickey Hart, the Dead’s legendary drummer – and artist – told Fox News. “Music is for everybody. It is for Republicans and for Democrats. I have Republican friends. We enjoy music together. We don’t agree on a lot of things, but you can share music and it transcends. It’s not about lyrics, it is about that feeling.”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson – who has attended at least 50 shows – named his latest book “Ship of Fools,” an homage of the Grateful Dead song of the same name. Conservative pundit and author Ann Coulter says she has seen 67 Dead concerts. Steve Bannon is reported to have been among the college ranks of Deadheads. And Dirk Kempthorne, a secretary of the Interior under George W. Bush, has even met Hart – and bought some of his art collection several years ago.