When Keanu Reeves Tried To Save His Band Dogstar Using Grateful Dead

We all know him as one of the leading figures in Hollywood, with his roles in cult films like ‘Matrix,’ ‘Constantine,’ ‘The Devil’s Advocate,’ and ‘John Wick.’ Keanu Reeves won our hearts with his impeccable acting talent, charisma, and being the man we can come across in the subway. However, it turns out that his talents are not limited to acting. To many fans’ surprise, he also played bass guitar for the band Dogstar.

Reeves formed Dogstar in 1991 after a chance encounter with the actor and musician Robert Mailhouse. The two met in a supermarket and formed a friendship upon seeing that hockey was their common interest. However, they later realized that wasn’t the only thing they had in common. Seeing their music tastes were similar, they started jamming together in the garage and formed Dogstar with Gregg Miller’s addition.

Three years later, Bret Domrose joined Dogstar as an additional vocalist and guitarist. A year passed, and the band decided they were ready to hit the road. They toured the US and Asia and opened for iconic rock stars like David Bowie and Bon Jovi. Following Miller’s departure, Dogstar released a four-track EP, ‘Quattro Formaggi,’ and their debut album, ‘Our Little Visionary.’ In the following years, the band continued to perform in festivals.

While things were going pretty well for Dogstar, one of their festival performances was a disaster. During the show at Milwaukee Metal Fest, Keanu Reeves noticed that they had to do something to appeal to the audience. They took the stage after the bands like Murphy’s Law, Agnostic Front, and the Mentors, and before Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Deicide, and a band named Cancer, so they had to prove themselves. To save the show, Reeves came up with a brilliant idea: to play a Grateful Dead cover.

“We played Milwaukee Metal Fest,” Keanu Reeves told GQ in a 2019 interview. “Got killed. I think we played close to Murphy’s Law. Imagine. So we played a Grateful Dead cover at Milwaukee Metal Fest. We were like, ‘They hate us. What are we doing here? What can we do? Let’s do the Grateful Dead cover.’ They were just like, ‘F*ck you, you suck.’ I had the biggest grin on my face, man.”

Although Keanu Reeves didn’t remember which Grateful Dead song they played, GQ guessed it was probably ‘New Minglewood Blues,’ after a quick search on the band’s setlist. Apparently, the talented actor’s move to save the band didn’t do anything to please the crowd, but at least he enjoyed the show. Currently, Dogstar isn’t active — they called it quit in 2002. “I guess it would have helped if our band was better,” the Hollywood star said about the band’s dissolution.

Keanu’s acting career began years before Dogstar’s formation — he made his feature film debut in 1986 with ‘Dawnstar,’ had his breakthrough role in ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,’ and received critical acclaim for his role in 1991’s ‘My Own Private Idaho.’ Eventually, he and his band members’ other work commitments got in Dogstar’s way, and the band bid farewell to the music scene after their second album ‘Happy Ending’ and their last show in 2002 in Japan.