Donna Godchaux was born Donna Jean Thatcher in 1948 in Sheffield, Alabama
, and began singing as a teenager there. She became a respected studio vocalist
, recording in Nashville
(including some work with Elvis Presley
) and then on the West Coast
She met San Francisco keyboardist Keith Godchaux in the early 70s and soon they were hitched. They both joined the Grateful Dead in 1972 and toured with them until February, 1979.
Donna's vocals appear on these Dead releases:
... and a variety of other Dead re-releases and vault mixes, as well as on recordings from Dead members' independent efforts such as the Jerry Garcia Band
She and her husband, Keith, also had their own band for a short while, "The Keith and Donna Band", and recorded and had live performances in 1975. Bandmates in this effort included fellow Dead personnel Jerry Garcia and Bill Kreutzman.
Keith died in a car crash in 1980. Donna has continued to sing and record, and remarried; today she goes by Donna Jean Godchaux McKay.