Grateful Dead Forum

April 10, 2003

the following is a press release from Mickey Hart's publicist:

[note: the date has been rescheduled. Check here for latest info]

Celebrate Life in Rhythm
Hosted by Mickey Hart and Bill Graham Presents

SAN FRANCISCO, April 10, 2003 -

This Sunday, April 13th, from 1pm to 3pm, Mickey Hart and Bill Graham Presents will be hosting a free event to celebrate the life of Babatunde Olatunji at Lagoon Park on the Marin County Fairgrounds. Called "Celebrate Life in Rhythm", this event will feature the following artists:

Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju, Bobby Vega, Hamza El Din, Bobi Cespedes, Arthur Hull with Village Music Circles, Remo Belli and special guests.

There will be speakers honoring Baba's life. Bring your favorite drums and percussion instruments! We will be drumming to celebrate Baba's life.

Babatunde Olatunji, a renowned Nigerian drummer who pioneered world music and influenced musicians such as Carlos Santana, Mickey Hart, John Coltrane and Bob Dylan, died Sunday at a Salinas hospital of complications from diabetes.

Mr. Olatunji, who would have celebrated his 76th birthday on Monday, had been living for the past year at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, where he was on the faculty.

Released in 1960, his groundbreaking album, "Drums of Passion," is considered the first world music recording in the United States. It has sold more than 5 million copies.

Mr. Olatunji is best known to Bay Area rock fans through his association with the Grateful Dead. His Drums of Passion performance group appeared in concerts with the band, and he was a founding member of Dead drummer Mickey Hart's Grammy-winning Planet Drum ensemble of world percussionists.

"He was the first to bring African rhythms to western music, to rock 'n' roll and jazz," Hart said. "He changed the face of what we recognize as music."

For more than 40 years, Mr. Olatunji served as an unofficial ambassador of African music and culture, teaching traditional drumming, dancing and chanting. Coltrane, the great jazz saxophonist, was among those who studied at his Olatunji Center for African Culture in Harlem.

Santana recorded Mr. Olatunji's song "Jingo," and titled one of his albums "Shango," a track from Mr. Olatunji's landmark "Drums of Passion" record.

Dylan mentioned him on his classic 1963 album "The Freewheeling Bob Dylan," singing "What I want to know, Mr. Football Man, is what do you do about Martin Luther King, Willie Mays, Olatunji?"

A prominent voice during the civil rights movement, Mr. Olatunji performed at President John F. Kennedy's inauguration.

He also is credited with being an early proponent of the mind-body-spirit connection in music therapy, seeing drumming as a way to physical, spiritual and emotional health.

He once said, "Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm."

Celebrate Life in Rhythm will be held at Lagoon Park at the Marin County Fairgrounds on Sunday, April 13th from 1pm to 3pm. This event is free to the general public. BRING YOUR DRUMS!

More information regarding the event and Babatunde Olatunji can be found at

**Biographical Information on Babatunde Olatunji's life taken with permission from Paul Liberatore's article in the Marin Independent Journal published on April 9th.


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