For Mickey Hart, passion brings purpose. "I like it when there's a lot of rhythms going on and a lot of mental and physical activity," he insists. "Being able to follow the muse is a real privilege."
While he may have gained fame for his decades-long tenure as a drummer for the Grateful Dead and its various offshoots, Hart no longer fits the mold of the hero and heretic once cheered by the counterculture. Indeed, for the past 20 years or so, he's made a daring leap from the band's communal trappings to embrace traditional world-music rhythms and scholarly endeavors, garnering him involvement with such esteemed institutions as NASA, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, and even filmmaker George Lucas.
Indeed, in the years since the 1995 death of the Dead's godfather and lysergic visionary, Jerry Garcia, the 69-year-old Hart has managed to sow some common ground between the worlds of music and science.