Donna Jean Godchaux
|Donna Jean Godchaux|
Godchaux singing with her band, November 6, 2009, Blacksburg, Virginia
|Birth name||Donna Jean Thatcher|
August 22, 1947 |
|Associated acts||Grateful Dead
Jerry Garcia Band
Heart of Gold Band
Donna Jean Godchaux Band
Donna Jean Thatcher was born in Florence, Alabama. Prior to 1970, she had worked as a session singer in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, eventually singing with a group called Southern Comfort and appearing as a backup singer on at least two #1 hit songs: "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge in 1966 and "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley in 1969. Her vocals were featured on other classic recordings by Boz Scaggs and Duane Allman, Cher, Joe Tex, Neil Diamond and many others. She then moved to California and met future fellow Grateful Dead member Keith Godchaux, whom she married in 1970.
Donna introduced Keith to Jerry Garcia after Garcia's performance at San Francisco's Keystone Korner in September 1971. At the time, Donna Jean was not working as a musician. She joined the band shortly afterwards, remaining a member until February 1979.
Donna Jean provided back-up and lead vocals in the group's music. During their membership in the Grateful Dead, the couple also issued the mostly self-written Keith & Donna album in 1975 with Jerry Garcia as a Keith and Donna Band member. In turn, they performed as part of the Jerry Garcia Band.
Donna did not perform again with any Grateful Dead band members until after the death of Jerry Garcia. Shortly after her husband's death in 1980, she married bassist David MacKay (former Fiddleworms member and bassist for the Donna Jean Godchaux Band) and the couple moved to her childhood town of Florence, Alabama, to record at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios. 
In 2009, Donna Jean formed a brand new band, the Donna Jean Godchaux Band, with Jeff Mattson (of Phil Lesh and Friends, Zen Tricksters, and Dark Star Orchestra), after re-entering the music scene with Mattson and Mookie Siegel (of David Nelson Band, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Ratdog) to form Kettle Joe's Psychedelic Swamp Revue, later known as Donna Jean & the Tricksters. She occasionally makes guest appearances with Bob Weir & RatDog, Zero & Steve Kimock, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Dark Star Orchestra and Dead & Company.
In 1994, Donna Jean was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead. She resides in Killen, Alabama, and remains an active member of the Muscle Shoals music scene when not touring with the Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson.
As group leader or co-leader
- Keith & Donna – Keith and Donna Godchaux – 1975
- Playing in the Heart of Gold Band – The Ghosts – 1984
- The Heart of Gold Band – The Heart of Gold Band – 1986
- Donna Jean – The Donna Jean Band – 1998
- At the Table – The Heart of Gold Band – 2004
- Donna Jean and the Tricksters – Donna Jean and the Tricksters – 2008
- Back Around – Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson – 2014
With the Grateful Dead
Donna Godchaux was a member of the Grateful Dead from 1972 to 1979 and appears on many of the band's albums.
With other artists
Donna Godchaux (née Donna Thatcher) has contributed background or lead vocals on many albums by different artists.
- "When a Man Loves a Woman" / "Love Me Like You Mean It" – Percy Sledge – 1966
- "Suspicious Minds" / "You'll Think of Me" – Elvis Presley – 1969
- From Elvis in Memphis – Elvis Presley – 1969
- From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis – Elvis Presley – 1969
- 3614 Jackson Highway – Cher – 1969
- Boz Scaggs – Boz Scaggs – 1969
- Ton-Ton Macoute! – Johnny Jenkins – 1970
- Ace – Bob Weir – 1972
- Demon in Disguise – David Bromberg – 1972
- Gypsy Cowboy – New Riders of the Purple Sage – 1972
- The Adventures of Panama Red – New Riders of the Purple Sage – 1973
- Tales of the Great Rum Runners – Robert Hunter – 1974
- Tiger Rose – Robert Hunter – 1975
- Reflections – Jerry Garcia – 1976
- Cats Under the Stars – Jerry Garcia Band – 1977
- Here Goes Nothing – Zero – 1987
- Laughing Water – Jazz Is Dead – 1999
- Don't Let Go – Jerry Garcia Band – 2001
- Worcester, MA, 4/4/73 – New Riders of the Purple Sage – 2003
- Pure Jerry: Theatre 1839, San Francisco, July 29 & 30, 1977 – Jerry Garcia Band – 2004
- Pure Jerry: Warner Theatre, March 18, 1978 – Jerry Garcia Band – 2005
- For Rex: The Black Tie Dye Ball – The Zen Tricksters and various artists – 2006
- Pure Jerry: Bay Area 1978 – Jerry Garcia Band – 2009
- Garcia Live Volume Four – Jerry Garcia Band – 2014
- Garcia Live Volume Seven – Jerry Garcia Band – 2016
- Sprovtsoff-Mangus, Rachel. Donna Jean Godchaux biography on Allmusic
- "Donna Jean Thatcher Godchaux, Vocals" on LostLiveDead.com, January 7, 2016
- Donna Jean Godchaux discography on DeadDisc.com
- Sprovtsoff-Mangus, Rachel. Keith Godchaux biography on Allmusic
- Browne, David. "Donna Jean Godchaux's Long, Strange Trip," Rolling Stone, March 4, 2014
- Donna Jean (Godchaux) MacKay interview by David Gans, The Truth and Fun Literary Archive, March 28, 1998
- "The birth of the Donna Jean Godchaux Band" Archived April 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., news.jamradio.org, March 3, 2009, Retrieved March 16, 2009.
- The Grateful Dead on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame web site
- Donna Jean Godchaux — With the Grateful Dead at the Grateful Dead Family discography.
- Donna Jean Godchaux — With Others at the Grateful Dead Family discography.
- Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson official website
- Grateful Dead official website
- The Music Never Stopped: The Musical Journey of Donna Jean Godcheaux-McKay From honesttune.com.
- Donna Jean Godchaux Interview NAMM Oral History Library (2017)