Donna Jean Godchaux

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Donna Jean Thatcher Godchaux-MacKay (born August 22, 1947) is an American singer who was a member of the Grateful Dead from 1972 until 1979.

Donna Jean Godchaux
Godchaux singing with her band in Blacksburg, Virginia, November 2009
Godchaux singing with her band in Blacksburg, Virginia, November 2009
Background information
Birth nameDonna Jean Thatcher
Born (1947-08-22) August 22, 1947 (age 75)
Florence, Alabama, U.S.
Years active1966–present
Member ofDonna Jean Godchaux Band
Formerly of


Donna Jean Thatcher was born in Florence, Alabama. Prior to 1970, she had worked as a session singer[1] in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, eventually singing with a group called Southern Comfort and appearing as a backup singer on at least two #1 hit songs: "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Percy Sledge in 1966 and "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley in 1969. Her vocals were featured on other classic recordings by Boz Scaggs and Duane Allman, Cher, Joe Tex, Neil Diamond and many others.[2][3] She then moved to California and met future fellow Grateful Dead member Keith Godchaux, whom she married in 1970.[4]

Donna introduced Keith to Jerry Garcia after Garcia's performance at San Francisco's Keystone Korner in September 1971. At the time, Donna Jean was not working as a musician. She joined the band shortly afterwards, remaining a member until February 1979.[5]

Donna Jean provided backing and lead vocals in the group's music. During their membership in the Grateful Dead, the couple also issued the mostly self-written Keith & 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. Godchaux possesses a mezzo-soprano vocal range.

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, she married bassist David MacKay (former Fiddleworms member and bassist for the Donna Jean Godchaux Band) and the couple moved to her childhood town of Florence, Alabama, to record at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.[6]

In 2009, Donna Jean formed a brand new band, the Donna Jean Godchaux Band, with Jeff Mattson (of Phil Lesh and Friends, Zen Tricksters, and Dark Star Orchestra), after re-entering the music scene with Mattson and Mookie Siegel (of David Nelson Band, Phil Lesh and Friends, and Ratdog) to form Kettle Joe's Psychedelic Swamp Revue, later known as Donna Jean & the Tricksters.[7] She occasionally makes guest appearances with Bob Weir & RatDog, Zero & Steve Kimock, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Dark Star Orchestra and Dead & Company. She also continues to be involved in archival Grateful Dead projects.[8]

In 1994, Donna Jean was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Grateful Dead.[9] She resides in Killen, 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-leaderEdit

Donna Jean Godchaux in 2008

With the Grateful DeadEdit

Donna Godchaux was a member of the Grateful Dead from 1972 to 1979 and appears on many of the band's albums.[10]

With other artistsEdit

Donna Godchaux (née Donna Thatcher) has contributed background or lead vocals on many albums by different artists.[11]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Sprovtsoff-Mangus, Rachel. Donna Jean Godchaux biography on AllMusic
  2. ^ "Donna Jean Thatcher Godchaux, Vocals" on, January 7, 2016
  3. ^ "Grateful Dead Family Discography: Donna Jean Godchaux Discography".
  4. ^ Sprovtsoff-Mangus, Rachel. Keith Godchaux biography on AllMusic
  5. ^ Browne, David. "Donna Jean Godchaux's Long, Strange Trip," Rolling Stone, March 4, 2014
  6. ^ "Donna Jean MacKay 3/28/98".
  7. ^ "The birth of the Donna Jean Godchaux Band" Archived April 14, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,, March 3, 2009, Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  8. ^ Budnick, Dean (July 20, 2016). "Donna Jean Godchaux Talks Unearthing Long Lost Jerry Garcia Band Recording". Relix. Retrieved November 8, 2021.
  9. ^ "Inductee Explorer". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
  10. ^ Donna Jean Godchaux — With the Grateful Dead at the Grateful Dead Family discography.
  11. ^ Donna Jean Godchaux — With Others at the Grateful Dead Family discography.

External linksEdit