John Mayer, Dead & Company Play Charity Concert to Benefit Ocean Conservation

Alex J. Berliner/ABImages
Dead & Company

Oceana's Rock Under the Stars event raised $1.1 million for marine health.

Dead & Company helped keep the oceans alive with a rare private performance on Sunday night for Hollywood’s biggest Deadheads.  

The band — comprised of former Grateful Dead members Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Bob Weir, plus Oteil Burbridge, Jeff Chimenti and John Mayer — performed nine songs for an intimate 200-person charity concert at a private residence in the Hollywood Hills.

Rock Under the Stars benefited Oceana, an international advocacy organization for ocean conservation, by raising $1.1 million through donations and ticket sales that ranged from $2,500 to $50,000. Though not in attendance, Seth MacFarlane donated $250,000.

Just one day after the Dead’s bash at Dodger Stadium, the group performed "Samson & Delilah" and "When I Paint My Masterpiece" for such guests as director Eli Roth, executive Tony Thomopulos, chef Vinny Dotolo, actor Ed Begley Jr., producer Roger Birnbaum, actress Kelly Lynch, actor Jeff Goldblum and actor Dean Norris. Other benefactors include CBS, actor Ted Danson and his actress wife Mary Steenburgen, with patrons Cheryl and Haim Saban.

Industry Entertainment founder Keith Addis hosted the concert at his home with Kari Selig, telling the crowd he was only able to book Dead & Company thanks to their manager Bernie Cahill.

Addis tells The Hollywood Reporter he grew up in Southern California when the Grateful Dead was "in the air." He attended college from 1968 to 1972 and went to concerts in New York every weekend. Now he's honored to have Dead & Company at the third summer Rock Under the Stars event, where previous acts have included Sting in 2016 and Don Henley last year.

Addis says he began his work in ocean conservation "for all the wrong reasons," trying to impress Danson, his client: "I got involved only because I wanted to be closer to an important new client. But I very quickly got excited about the work and the enormous difficulty of this work appealed to me, and we've been doing it together for 25 years."

Addis and Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless add that current threats to the oceans include plastic pollution, EPA leaders under the Trump administration, Congress working to weaken key environmental legislation like the Endangered Species Act and even the latest heat wave, which is indicative of climate change. 

"This may be the most important time ever for us to do this work," Addis tells THR. "Here we are in the trenches, like we were fighting against the war in Vietnam, fighting for civil rights, trying to get rid of Richard Nixon. Here we are again. And all that was happening when I first discovered the Grateful Dead."

Adds Addis, "This is the first fundraiser like this they've ever done, because they care about these issues, and it's an amazing thing they did this." 

The backyard, lined with gray carpet and black couches, featured a stage with a tie-dye backdrop tucked between the trees and overlooking the bright lights of Hollywood Boulevard below.

Attendees were served Stillhouse libations as well as tie-dye paper bags with popcorn, brownies and gummy bears as a nod to the Dead’s '70s culture.

Dead & Company performed without speaking to the crowd, opening with the classic “Dark Star” and moving from one song to the next. Mayer’s vocals were featured prominently on “Brown-Eyed Women” and “Touch of Grey,” mainly joining Weir during choruses. And as with any rock concert, guests left the house party with memorabilia: a Grateful Dead-style black band T-shirt marking the Oceana concert on the hot July evening.