By Amanda Wicks

John Mayer is gearing up to hit the road at the end of October for a series of shows with Dead & Company. He’ll be joining three of the four core living Grateful Dead members on stage, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann, along with keyboardist Jeff Chimenti and former Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge. Mayer will be playing lead guitar and splitting the vocals with Weir.

The Grateful Dead spoke with Mayer about playing together as early as January 2015, but first waited until they’d completed their Fare Thee Well tour, which Phish‘s Trey Anastasio joined them for, before they began booking actual dates.

Related: Trey Anastasio on Grateful Dead and John Mayer

Once the tour logistics were in the bag, Mayer began immersing himself in what he calls “Dead University.” He spoke with Rolling Stone, saying, “I was in isolation, learning these songs, and the first thing you have to do is have heard it long enough to be able to anticipate it in a certain way. You have to understand that particular song’s flow. And then I pick up the guitar and find out kind of where it lives on the fretboard, and then I sort of go a little deeper. Each song gets that layered thing, so that by the time I really know it, I know how the song goes, what the sort of guitar approach is, but then also what the sort of ethic of the song is.”

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