Singer-songwriter John Mayer proudly declared himself a "Deadhead" as he defended members of the Grateful Dead in their decision to regroup after playing what was supposed to be the band's final tour this summer.
Mayer is rehearsing in a city north of San Francisco with three of the four remaining members of the band for a fall tour that kicks off Oct. 29 in New York, months after the Dead played to devoted fans who, in some cases, paid thousands of dollars for sold-out shows in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Chicago.
"I don't know of any Deadhead in the world who said, 'When I paid my money, I paid to see these guys finish this,'" Mayer said in an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press in the Marin County recording studios of singer and guitarist Bob Weir.
The Grateful Dead's Weir and percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann are part of Dead & Company with Mayer. Bassist Phil Lesh is not involved, although Weir in an earlier interview did not rule out the possibility of Lesh joining an upcoming show.
The Grateful Dead celebrated its 50th anniversary with five concerts in June and July, two decades after beloved guitarist Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack and long after releasing its last studio album.
Still, younger fans continue to discover the jam band known for its live sessions and improvisation, including 37-year-old Mayer, who said he fell hard and fast for the music in 2011. He met Weir while guest-hosting the "The Late Late Show" in February and from there, the idea of collaborating evolved.
Weir said Tuesday that when they played together, he noticed Mayer "was answering back, and it was fun, and more fun than I was really going to be happy about just walking away from."
The band announced Monday that 5,000 fans will have a chance to win two tickets each to a Nov. 7 show at Madison Square Garden in New York City.