Brett Alan wrote:
I think the Grateful Dead is probably too low. I don't think there's any artist who scores higher in terms of the impact of live performances on their own career--they were touring as superstars during periods when they had little success from a recording standpoint, and they were never that big as recording artists. And their impact on the touring business was also huge, with the entire "jam band" scene being directly attributable to them. Their reputation was high and while they don't score all that well in consistency, I think that they still ought to at least be in the top ten.
I'd probably have to agree. The Grateful Dead should be extremely high, considering they invented the entire concept of the jam band, which was highly influential on the development of live performance.
A lot of the artists above the Dead had their live performances result in equal or greater impact on their careers, just sometimes in different ways. Presley's show is what created the furor with him in his early days and what led to his going to RCA and becoming the focale point of the entire anti-rock movement of 1956. Springsteen was barred from releasing music following Born To Run yet actually increased his following through touring alone, so that when he returned he was a bigger star right off the bat than when he had left in 1975. Ike & Tina Turner had uneven recording careers for a variety of labels, but were one of the most successful live acts for more than a decade, which got them in the HOF. James Brown became a superstar because of his early touring and broke through to mainstream America because of his live show in 1962. Bo Diddley was never a huge hitmaker, especially in the 50's, yet he routinely closed multi-artist shows which had far bigger names appearing on it because he was so good live and his place in rock history vaulted way up as a result of that noteriety.
Yeah, the Dead's live show had just as much impact on their stature as stars over the years, considering their generally weak studio output, and they definitely get a lot of credit for it here, but the gap isn't as much as some are seeming to suggest.
As for the jam band concept, it didn't start with the Dead at all - Diddley started that in the 50's. He'd close shows, do part of one song and then jam for twenty minutes, riffing on his guitar off-the-cuff. It's no surprise that the first group later recognized AS a jam band, which just beat the Dead to it in SF, was Quicksilver Messenger Service and the songs they turned into lengthy jams were Diddley songs. So while the Dead are the most renown for this, they weren't first and they can't get credit for something others did before them.