It think it is a safe bet that people will be playing grateful dead music far beyond when all of the original members have passed on. In this way it is similar to jazz, blues or folk songs that have been played for many years, in some cases for over 100 years. The interesting question for me is whether or not there will continue to be a "flagship" band touring that serves as the "mothership" for all the Deadheads. For example, right now there are very good Dead tribute bands in almost every part of the country, including ones that tour nationally. The biggest example, of course, is DSO. There are also bands led by original members Bill Kreutzman and Mickey Hart that play some Dead material. However, I would have to say that Furthur is the "mothership" at this point for Deadheads seeking the music and the experience created by the Grateful Dead.
Once the "core four" are all dead and gone, say 20 to 30 years from now (I'm not being morbid, just sayin') I wonder if DSO will become the mothership, or some other tribute band, or if the scene will simply decentralize and be more or less how it is now, only without a Furthur or a DSO out there touring nationally and drawing big crowds.
I'm sure certain Dead classics will be standard covers for whatever jam bands are touring in 2040, and I'm sure every city wll have a Dead tribute band. I also sure people will be listening to recordings and watching video of GD shows far into the future. What I wonder is if there will be a version of Dead Tour still going later on in this century. What do you all think?
i have similar thoughts as you have...i've discussed it with several people...the grateful dead is seriously going in the history books...it will be studied in terms of music...phd's of all areas will write books about it, its effects on society, it's economics both as a corporate machine and also individually for venues and cities, english majors will study the lyrics lyrics, it was truly an american institution for 30 solid years
i teach social studies and they are already mentioned in textbooks as a driving force in 1960's counterculture