Tom Constanten

Tom Constanten (born March 19, 1944 in Long Branch, New Jersey) is an American keyboardist, best known for playing with the Grateful Dead from 1968-1970. Known as T.C., he studied music at University of California, Berkeley, where he met Phil Lesh. He and Lesh studied composition with Luciano Berio, the Italian modernist composer, and both were influenced by Mahler. Constanten also studied piano with Mario Feninger. In 1967, after graduation, Constanten went to Europe to study with Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. Though not yet a member of the Grateful Dead, T.C. played prepared piano on the group's second album, Anthem of the Sun. He formally joined the band in November 1968, to supplement Ron Pigpen McKernan's organ playing. He played keyboards on 1969's Aoxomoxoa release, as well as on the Live/Dead live album. Constanten amicably left the Grateful Dead in January 1970. While he had successfully contributed to their complex experimental music, his instrumental style, at the time, was less rock and more classical. Also, there was some feeling that he did not fit in with the Dead ethos; for example, he followed Scientology, and refused to take LSD.

In terms of recorded output, Constanten became more active in the early 1990s, releasing an album of classical sonatas, as well as two albums mixing original material with a few Dead songs, and one album (Dead Ringers) entirely composed of Dead and Bob Dylan songs. In 1994 he released an album with Jorma Kaukonen which included 11 different versions of Embryonic Journey taken from the studio sessions for Morning Dew. T.C. has toured several times over the last ten years. Les Kippel, founder of Relix Records, felt that Tom Constanten had a lot to say musically, and worked with him to release a series of his projects over the years Nightfall of Diamonds (1992), Morning Dew (1993), Embryonic Journey (a 1994 project which was an outgrowth of getting Kaukonen and Constanten together for a recording of Embryonic Journey to be used on Morning Dew), and Grateful Dreams (2000). Constanten was a favorite of Relix Records, and can be found on many of their releases, including the Dead Delites series, the Gathering on the Mountain series, and Dead Ringers. As of 2006, Constanten plays keyboards in the current line-up of Jefferson Starship, and in 2007 appeared as a guest with Grateful Dead tribute bands Terrapin Flyer and World Within. He has also sat in with other Bay rock bands, including Juggling Suns and Solar Circus.He currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has one daughter, Clarissa Constanten and one son, Jeffrey Constanten. Clarissa plays piano and violin.