While the Grateful Dead has been one of the most prolific and well-loved bands of the 20th century, unbeknownst to many fans they have been allegedly involved in a number of government conspiracies, particularly those related to hallucinogenic drug research and alternative states of consciousness. Of course, this shouldn't shock most fans - the music of the Grateful Dead has been described by many as "psychedelic" and is the leading example of the "acid rock" genre.
Formed in 1965 when interest in hallucinogenic drugs like LSD or "acid" was spreading across the country, the Grateful Dead caught the attention of former participants in Project MK-ULTRA, including Robert Hunter, who would eventually go on to write a large portion of the band's songs, and Ken Kesey then attending Stanford University. The tests with Project MK-ULTRA involved administering doses of psilocybin, mescaline and LSD, then having the subjects report on their experiences. In effect, the fact that Robert Hunter was at the forefront of this research means that the Grateful Dead was, in many ways, at the forefront of the research as well.
This information about the Grateful Dead's involvement with Project MK-ULTRA is only the tip of the iceberg. Other leading Grateful Dead government conspiracy theories include the mysterious Project 58, Subproject 54 or “Perfect Concussion”, and involvement with figures like Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey, of Furthur note.
The reason this is so important is due to the ultimate purpose of Project MK-ULTRA carried out at Stanford University - to develop technologies for mind control and emotional resonance. There are a number of theories as to why the Grateful Dead was the successful band that it was. The band's "Deadheads" are some of the most passionate fans in the music world, giving up careers, families and lives to follow the band on tour for decades. It was almost as though the music itself were a drug.
In addition to testing drugs, these government conspiracies also tested various elements of auditory (eg. sub-aural frequency’s) and visual hallucination and (I Dosing?). Many of these elements were said to have found their way into the Grateful Dead concert experience.
Whether or not you believe in these Grateful Dead conspiracy theories, they are definitely interesting and add another layer of intrigue to one of the most iconic bands of the 20th century.