Instruments: Vocals
Date of Birth: August 22, 1947
Place of Birth: Sheffield, Alabama

1999 America's Music Award

Walk of Fame Star

Donna Thatcher Godchaux began her career as a background vocalist while still a student at Sheffield High School.

She worked recording sessions not only in the Muscle Shoals music industry, but also in Memphis and Nashville, where she recorded with Elvis Presley.

In the early 1970's she met and married Keith Godchaux, a keyboard player in California. Soon after the couple joined the Grateful Dead in San Francisco and toured and recorded with that group until 1979. Among the albums the Godchauxs appear on are, "Europe '72", "Wake of the Flood", "From The Mars Hotel", "Blues for Allah", "Terrapin Station" and "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been".

A year after leaving the Grateful Dead, Keith Godchaux was killed in a tragic auto accident.

During their tenure with the group, The Grateful Dead played three concerts at the foot of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. It was the first time the Department of Antiquities of Egypt had allowed such an event to be staged in that location.

She has returned to the Shoals area of Alabama and is active in the Christian community. A new CD of postive songs was released in 1998.

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Personal Web Site:

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Donna Jean (Thatcher) Godchaux-MacKay (born August 22, 1947) is an American singer best known for having been a member of the rock group, the Grateful Dead.



Donna Jean was born in Sheffield, Alabama. Prior to 1970, she had worked as a session singer in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, appearing on songs by Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. She met future fellow Grateful Dead member Keith Godchaux and they married in 1970.

Donna introduced Keith to Jerry Garcia after Garcia's performance at San Francisco's Keystone Korner in October 1971. At the time, Donna Jean was not working as a musician. She joined the band shortly afterwards, remaining a member until February 1979.

Donna Jean provided back-up and lead vocals in the group's music. During their membership in the Grateful Dead, the couple also issued the mostly self-written Keith and Donna album in 1975 with Jerry Garcia as a Keith and Donna Band member. In turn, they performed as part of the Jerry Garcia Band.

Keith and Donna's son, Zion "Rock" Godchaux, of BoomBox was born in 1974.

After the Grateful Dead, the couple started the Heart of Gold Band.

Donna did not perform again with any Grateful Dead band members until after the death of Jerry Garcia. Shortly after her husband's death in 1980, Donna Jean turned to religion. She married bassist David MacKay (former Fiddleworms member and bassist for Donna Jean Godchaux Band) and the couple moved to Florence, Alabama to work at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios.

In 2009, Donna Jean formed a brand new band with Jeff Mattson, The Donna Jean Godchaux Band w/Jeff Mattson, after re-entering the music scene with Jeff Mattson (former Phil Lesh and Friends, Zen Tricksters) and Mookie Siegel (David Nelson Band, Phil Lesh and Friends, Ratdog) to form Kettle Joe's Psychedelic Swamp Revue, then known as the Donna Jean Godchaux Band, several years earlier.

She occasionally makes guest appearances with Bob Weir & Ratdog, Zero & Steve Kimock, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Dark Star Orchestra.

Donna Jean was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 as a member of the Grateful Dead. She continues to reside in Florence, Alabama, and remains an active member of the Muscle Shoals music scene when not touring with the Donna Jean Godchaux Band with Jeff Mattson.

As group leader or co-leader

Keith & Donna – Keith and Donna Godchaux – 1975

Playing in the Heart of Gold Band – The Ghosts – 1984

The Heart of Gold Band – The Heart of Gold Band – 1986

Donna Jean – The Donna Jean Band – 1998

At the Table – The Heart of Gold Band – 2004

Donna Jean and the Tricksters – Donna Jean and the Tricksters – 2008

With the Grateful Dead

Donna Godchaux was a member of the Grateful Dead from 1972 to 1979 and appears on many of the band's albums.

With other artists

Donna Godchaux (née Donna Thatcher) has contributed background or lead vocals on many albums by different artists.

From Elvis in Memphis – Elvis Presley – 1969

From Memphis to Vegas/From Vegas to Memphis – Elvis Presley – 1969

3614 Jackson Highway – Cher – 1969

Boz Scaggs – Boz Scaggs – 1969

Ton-Ton Macoute! – Johnny Jenkins – 1970

Ace – Bob Weir – 1972

Demon in Disguise – David Bromberg – 1972

Gypsy Cowboy – New Riders of the Purple Sage – 1972

The Adventures of Panama Red – New Riders of the Purple Sage – 1973

Tales of the Great Rum Runners – Robert Hunter – 1974

Tiger Rose – Robert Hunter – 1975

Reflections – Jerry Garcia – 1976

Cats Under the Stars – Jerry Garcia Band – 1977

Here Goes Nothing – Zero – 1987

Laughing Water – Jazz Is Dead – 1999

Don't Let Go – Jerry Garcia Band – 2001

Worcester, MA, 4/4/73 – New Riders of the Purple Sage – 2003

Theatre 1839, July 29 & 30, 1977 – Jerry Garcia Band – 2004

Warner Theatre, March 18, 1978 – Jerry Garcia Band – 2005

For Rex: The Black Tie Dye Ball – The Zen Tricksters and various artists – 2006

Bay Area, 1978 – Jerry Garcia Band – 2009



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