Grateful Dead FAQ: All That's Left to Know About the
Greatest Jam Band in History
Grateful Dead FAQ is one of a series of books the Hal Leonard Corporation puts out that "represents a one-
stop source of info, history, and minutia on an array of performing arts subjects." The series also includes
books on Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, and the Doors.
This page is a guide to what's in my book and contains a "missing chapter" I left out because I felt it didn't fit
the book (which I mentioned in the book's introduction). Grateful Dead FAQ runs 350 pages, is 130,000
words long, and contains thirty-nine chapters.
The book is subtitled "All That's Left to Know About the Greatest Jam Band in History," so what I tried to do
was explore subjects I didn't see written about in the stacks of Dead books I own. I included a chapter on
mystery keyboardist Tom Constanten, who was with the band during its most experimental phase. I also
wrote one on Donna Jean Godchaux, whose addition to the group had sociological, as well as musical,
I always felt the Dead's studio work was way better than critics realized and wasn't given enough respect.
So I took a close look at all the Dead's studio albums and rare 45 mixes and edits, explaining what was and
wasn't included on the reissue CDs (see below). The full text of an interview I did with Bob Weir a few years
ago is featured, as are interviews with archivist David Lemieux and taper Dean Grabski, the latter of who
spoke in braving the elements in the great outdoors in his quest to preserve shows for all eternity.
Speaking of eternity, that was also the title of a song the Dead never put on an album. In the book I round up
a bunch of stray non-studio tracks from the early 1970s and the early 1990 to create two separate "great lost
Before we get to the chapter list, below are some of the out-of-print and unreleased musical items I discuss
in my book. In most cases, I've taken these from my vinyl and put them on YouTube. Details about each
release are contained within the videos or in the "about" section. Click on the icons to the right to listen.
- The Anthem of the Sun remix, which was done in 1971 ▲
- The original Aoxomoxoa mix from 1969 (not on any CD) ▲
- The Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions CD ▲
- Robert Hunter's obscure Jack O' Roses album from 1980 ▲
- The Keith & Donna album from 1975 ▲
- The Bobby and the Midnites debut LP from 1981 ▲
- The unreleased Brent Mydland solo album from 1982 ▲
- Mickey Hart's debut album Rolling Thunder from 1972 ▲
- he 6/20/83 Merriweather Post Pavilion show discussed in the book ▲
- The rare 45 edit of "Uncle John's Band" from 1970 (not on any CD) ▲
- The mono 45 edit of "U.S. Blues" from 1974 (not on any CD) ▲
The chapter list for Grateful Dead FAQ is as follows:
1. I Am Who I Am: A Primer on the Grateful Dead’s Twelve Official Members
2. Prelude: A Brief History of the Dead
3. Friends of the Devil: Who’s Who in Deadland
4. Sing Me Back Home: Ten Artists Who Influenced the Grateful Dead
5. A Band Beyond Description: Ten Elements That Shaped the Dead’s Music
6. The San Francisco Scene and the Birth of the Dead
7. The Music Never Stopped: Why Does the Grateful Dead Still Interest People?
8. False Alarm: Why Naysayers Were Wrong About the Dead Not Being a Studio Band
9. Trouble Behind, Trouble Ahead: Five Reasons People Hate the Dead
10. Cryptical Envelopment: The Dead’s Studio Recordings, 1967-69
11. High Time: The Dead’s Studio Recordings, 1970-75
12. Now We Play for Clive: The Dead’s Studio Recordings, 1977-89
13. New Ones Comin’ as the Old Ones Go: Why Are There Two Aoxomoxoas?
14. I Was There: Bob Weir on Monterey Pop and the Summer of Love
15. Looks Like Rain: Why the Dead Didn’t Really Blow It At Woodstock
16. Live/Dead: How the Dead Established the Double Live Rock Album
17. One Man Gathers: A Look at the Dick’s Picks Live Series
18. I Was There: David Lemieux on Archiving the Dead’s Catalog
19. He’s Gone: What Role Did the Late Ron “Pigpen” McKernan Play in the Dead?
20. Dark Star: What Place Did Tom Constanten Have in the Dead’s Music?
21. Ship of Fools: The Dead’s Ten Worst Decisions
22. I’ll Sing to Them This Story: The Significance of Donna Jean Godchaux-McKay
23. I Was There: Dean Grabski’s Tales of a Taper
24. Playing in the Band: A List of Significant Dead Concerts
25. Ace: A Dead Album With Weir as the Leader of the Band
26. One Old Score: The Great Lost Grateful Dead Studio Album of 1972
27. Sing Me a Song of My Own: Dead-related Solo Albums and Record Labels
28. Sunshine Daydreams: Rare Films, DVDs, and TV Appearances
29. Eyes of the World: A Roundup of Unreleased Live Dead Footage
30. For the Faithful: A Dozen Essential Bootlegs
31. Searching for the Sounds: Fifteen Obscure Dead Collectibles
32. Ripple in Still Water: What Happened When Deadheads Invaded a Town?
33. I Was There: Toni Brown on Documenting the Dead
34. Strange Deadfellows: Five Surprising Dead Connections
35. Days Between: The Final Dead Album That Never Was
36. Built to Last: Ten Places the Dead Left Their Mark on Popular Culture
37. Garcia the Seer: How a Guitarist Became a Cultural Icon
38. Unbroken Chain: A Dozen Artists and Bands Influenced by the Dead
39. With a Net: Online Resources for Deadheads
There was originally a Chapter 40, titled " The Other Ones: Some Other Artists Deadheads Might Also
Like." But I felt it didn't fit the book because it was just me riffing on some old musical groups and artists
whose music I felt deserved wider recognition. Here it is:
Deadheads can’t survive by Dead music alone (although some have tried). There are other artists out there
that appeal to fans of the band, whether those fans prefer the Dead as a psychedelic group, a jam band, or a
country rock act. This is a list of some such artists and bands. The following artists should interest people
familiar with the Dead’s music on some level, be it their songwriting skills, musicianship or sheer weirdness.
Joy of Cooking
Imagine the Grateful Dead was led by two women and you’ll get an idea as to what Joy of Cooking sounds
like. The five-member group, which formed in the Dead’s backyard of Marin County in 1967, released three
first-rate albums from 1970 to 1972. For a while there was some buzz about the band, but that buzz was
mostly novelty-oriented, since a rock band fronted by women back then was apparently too strange an entity
for the general public to deal with. But there’s nothing novel about this band’s music, which ran the gamut
from serious singer-songwriter fare (“Red Wine at Noon”) to wild percussive jamming (“Laugh, Don’t
Laugh”) to credible country rock (“Let Love Carry You Along”).
Joy of Cooking was put together by keyboardist Toni Brown and guitarist Terry Garthwaite as an outlet for
their burgeoning songwriting and like the Dead, they drew on roots music for inspiration. As Garthwaite told
me in an interview for the online music zine Perfect Sound Forever in 2006, “Both of us were listening a lot
to blues. Again, because Toni came from the Boston area and I was from the Bay area. There were lots of
blues players who came through doing concerts and playing in local clubs. We had great clubs where
people like Muddy Waters and The Staple Singers played… I remember early on listening to some Blind
Willie Johnson stuff that just knocked me out.” Unfortunately, the public wasn’t knocked out, and Joy of
Cooking was largely ignored despite their albums, which are generally brilliant. The group could cut it live
as well, as evidenced on the self-released double CD set Back to Your Heart, which came out in 2008.
Even the solo albums Brown and Garthwaite put out are both tuneful and innovative and worth searching for
on eBay. Readers should note that this Toni Brown is not the same Toni Brown as the one who once edited
Relix magazine and now fronts the Toni Brown Band -- and was interviewed for this book.
The Beach Boys
Yes, the Beach Boys. But not the early surfing Beach Boys. And not the pop orchestral stylings of the
beloved Pet Sounds edition of the band – although that 1966 album should be heard by any serious listener
of pop music. The Beach Boys music that will probably appeal to Dead fans comes from the early 1970s,
right around the time the two groups played together at the Fillmore East at a concert that really should be
officially released someday. The Beach Boys were in a period of transition during this time. They’d just
signed with Warner Bros. Records’ Reprise label, but chief songwriter and producer Brian Wilson had all
but abandoned his role as band leader due to increasing problems with drugs and mental illness. That left
his two younger brothers Dennis and Carl mostly in charge. The two Wilson siblings pushed the band in a
progressive direction, avoiding chirpy surf songs and moving into spacey, rhythmic grooves, some of which
wouldn’t sound out of place on Grateful Dead from the Mars Hotel or Wake of the Flood. The transition
started gradually with 1970’s Sunflower, but really took hold on the follow-up, Surf’s Up, which featured the
ethereal “Feel Flows,” one of Carl Wilson’s best songs later heard in the movie “Almost Famous.”
After Surf’s Up, keyboardist Bruce Johnston defected, so Carl hired two South African musicians, Ricky
Fataar and Blondie Chaplin, for the next two albums, Carl and the Passions – So Tough and Holland, easily
the two most un-Beach Boy-like albums in the group’s catalog. Both LPs show some Dead influence in the
way the band uses slow, creeping tempos to build atmosphere (check “Steamboat” and “Leaving This
Town”). After Holland, the group’s former record label, Capitol, released a collection of old AM radio hits,
Endless Summer, that exploded commercially and put the band on the more lucrative oldies circuit. That
was it for the progressive Beach Boys. But for a brief period, the Boys held their own against the new tide of
FM groups that had threatened to wash them away at sea forever.
What’s one of America’s jazz greats doing in a book about the Grateful Dead? Showing them how to
improvise, for one thing. The late Davis wielded his trumpet in much the way Garcia wielded his axe – as a
tool for otherworldly excursions. Phil Lesh’s autobiography makes clear how much the band admired Davis
after they followed one of his sets at the Fillmore East in 1970: “In some ways, it was similar to what we
were trying to do in our free jamming, but ever so much more dense with ideas, and seemingly controlled
with an iron fist, even at its most alarmingly intense moments. Of us all, only Jerry had the nerve to go back
and meet Miles, with whom he struck up a warm conversation. Miles was surprised and delighted to know
that we knew and loved his music.”
Fellow jazzman John Coltrane was also an influence on the Dead, but Davis’ albums are more accessible
to rock listeners, and if Deadheads want to venture into jazzland, Davis’ landmark Kind of Blue and
Sketches of Spain are excellent places to start. Davis, who died in 1991 pushed his music into the realm of
electronic instrumentation on the 1969 and 1970 albums In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. His musical
direction at this time came in for some criticism, but today these albums are considered landmarks of the
It’s to the Dead’s credit that they made so many types of music that a wide variety of artists will probably
appeal to their fan base. That includes psychedelic bands, jam bands, and folk-oriented Americana artists
like Patty Griffin. There’s a starkness to Griffin’s music that’s similar to the songs on the Workingman’s
Dead and American Beauty albums. That means that the music of both artists is acoustic but not sugar-
coated like that of mainstream singer-songwriters or country artists. When you listen to a song like Griffin’s
“Forgiveness” you’re drawn in by the pleasant sounds of voice and acoustic guitar but you’re soon jolted to
attention because of the intensity of what she’s putting across.
Griffin has expanded her stylistic range in recent years by embracing gospel, but her most bracing work is
arguably her earliest, especially her first two albums, Living with Ghosts, from 1996, and Flaming Red, from
1998. The first of these is acoustic and the second gets into a more electric sound. Neither made much of a
commercial impression at the time, but both have become steady sellers in light of Griffin’s later, more
successful albums like Children Running Through, from 2009, and Downtown Church, from 2010. Over the
years, her songs have been covered by the Dixie Chicks and Emmylou Harris.
If the Dead had been signed with Autumn Records they might have been coaxed into pursuing the folk rock
direction the label was pushing at the time with the Beau Brummels. And with this band, who made sort of a
“garage folk” sound. The Leaves are best known for getting the first version of “Hey Joe” onto the U.S.
singles chart in May 1966 (although the single was actually released in 1965 with the title “Hey Joe, Where
You Gonna Go?”). They took the song to Number 31. That was all she wrote chart-wise for this quintet,
making them true one-hit wonders. But the Leaves also left behind two albums and a spate of non-charting
singles, and here’s where the going gets interesting. The band’s first album, unsurprisingly titled Hey Joe,
is all strummed electric guitars and rag-tag harmonies. All of which will sound instantly familiar to anyone
who has heard the music the Grateful Dead were doing around the same time (collected on the Birth of the
Dead CD set).
While the Dead used this style of music as a jumping-off point, to the Leaves it was their style per se, and
they do it well. Songs like “War of Distortion,” “Too Many People,” and their cover of “He Was a Friend of
Mine” ring more honest than what a lot of other similar bands were doing at the time because, like the
Dead, the Leaves didn’t bother with studio polish. Unfortunately, their second album, All the Good That’s
Happening doesn’t quite live up to its title, and the group disbanded shortly afterwards with bassist Jim
Pons going on to play with the Turtles. More interesting are their non-LP singles sides, like “Funny Little
World” and Bob Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero/No Limit,” which can sometimes be found as streams on music
This Baltimore-born singer-songwriter is best known for his 1966 Top 5 hit “Elusive Butterfly,” which was a
jangly folk rock paean to hippie freedom. It also saddled Lind with one-hit wonder status even though he
had two follow-up songs crack the Top 100. Despite all of this, Lind’s first two albums should interest
Deadheads since his songwriting taps into the kind of folkie Americana later favored by the Hunter-Garcia
songwriting team. Lind’s tough-but-sweet vocal style also combines elements of the approaches both
Garcia and Weir would take to singing. Lind’s first album, Don’t Be Concerned, is probably his best, with
wistful ballads like “Drifter’s Sunrise” and “Unlock the Door” seemingly drawing from the same well of
traditional folk that infused songs like “High Time” and “Box of Rain.”
Like Hunter and Garcia, Lind also writes original songs that sound like they’re folk standards that have
been around forever (like the ode to a mermaid, “Dale Anne”). Yet another similarity Lind has with Hunter
and Garcia is that he can take the influence of Bob Dylan and make it his own. This is evident on his second
album, Photographs of Feeling, which features a rewrite of “Queen Jane Approximately” called “Truly Julie's
Blues (I'll Be There)” that arguably equals the original. Plus it has “San Francisco Woman,” a jaunty,
sarcastic paean to that town’s women that the Dead could have made into one of Weir’s “cowboy songs”
had they covered it. There’s no jamming to be found anywhere on these records, which are produced in the
rather stiff commercial folk style of the day, but the songs are so good that doesn’t really matter. Lind still
performs live and in 2009 released a concert/documentary DVD titled “Bob Lind: Perspective” that was
directed by filmmaker Paul Surratt.
If you were a Deadhead in the late 1970s, this is the other band you never missed when they came around
to play. Little Feat, in its prime, served up a totally original mélange of funky rhythms, bluesy songs, and
wickedly hot slide guitar, courtesy of the late band leader Lowell George (who produced the Dead’s
Shakedown Street). George conceived of the band while he was a member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of
Invention. He took Mothers bassist Roy Estrada with him when he founded the group around 1970.
Although Little Feat took a few albums and personnel additions to get on their, ahem, feet, during the 1970s
they put out a spate of classic rock albums starting with Sailin’ Shoes from 1972 and ending with Down on
the Farm, from 1979.
The band took a few years off to regroup after George died in 1979, but returned in the late 1980s with
former Pure Prairie League guitarist Craig Fuller in place of George. They’re still a hot live act, even after the
recent death of longtime drummer Richie Hayward, and one way to support them is to catch them when they
come around. That will make up for the fact that if you want to get their back catalog, you’re better off tracking
it down on used vinyl, even though the band gets no money for that. Music this gritty and dynamic just does
not take to the CD format for sonic reasons too involved to explore here.
Rock critics always seemed to love Love. But in the '60s the public didn’t, making them the opposite of the
Grateful Dead in this respect. This Los Angeles band, which was led by the late, legendary eccentric Arthur
Lee, is similar to the Dead in that they push the boundaries of rock with songs that are reasonably
accessible – as opposed to fellow L.A. experimental acts like Captain Beefheart or the Mothers of Invention,
who started off with weird songs to begin with. Love actually managed to get a bona fide Top 40 hit with the
frantic “7 and 7 Is,” which got to Number 33 in mid-1966. That song is from the band’s second album, Da
Capo, which showcases baroque pop on side one and (unsuccessful) jamming on the side-long tune
contained on its second side.
The band’s third album, Forever Changes, is a landmark acoustic masterpiece, but it’s the less-loved
albums that came afterwards that will probably appeal to Deadheads. With Four Sail and Out Here, Lee put
together a harder rocking version of the band based around the adventurous lead guitar of Jay Donnellan.
Donnellan is one of rock’s great overlooked guitarists, possibly because he kept changing his name with
each successive project he got involved with (he’s also known as James Donnellan and James Lewis).
Whatever his moniker, his explosive leads on songs like “August,” “Singing Cowboy,” and “I Do Wonder”
(the last two of which he co-wrote) will appeal to any Deadhead who ever wished Garcia played more in the
style he used on “St. Stephen” or “Alligator.” Like Garcia, Donnellan could also play country rock pretty
credibly, which is what he did with his next project called…
Anyone who loves Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty should consider hunting down the two
albums this obscure country rock trio released in 1970 and 1972. The band's self-titled first album, which
came out on Vault Records, is the best, with its wistful harmonies, acoustic feel and first-rate songwriting.
The compositions come from all the band members, with keyboardist Jim Hobson’s super-catchy non-hit
single “Tell Me a Story” being the best of the bunch and guitarist/drummer Barry Brown’s Band-styled “Roll ’
Em Down” coming in a close second. Like the Dead, the band draws from Crosby, Stills and Nash, whose
style influenced a lot of artists during this era.
But also like the Dead, this group twists the CSN vocal approach to their own ends, in this case creating
layered sounds that are spacey and atmospheric. The group’s second effort, Struck Like Silver, doesn’t
quite measure up to the first, but still has its high points, with two of them being covers of Hoyt Axton’s
“Never Been To Spain” and Joni Mitchell’s “For Free.” Although these albums are virtually unknown to the
public, they’re not really collector’s items either, so they can be found relatively cheaply on eBay. Wounded
Bird Records also reissued the first one on CD a few years back.
The New Rhythm and Blues Quartet (originally Quintet) was known in its heyday as the best bar band in
America as well as the country’s best kept musical secret. For around twenty years, from 1971 to 1994, they
churned out a series of albums on a variety of labels that brought together rock, folk, country, jazz, and
novelty music and made one of the most unique sounds ever heard in rock. Although the band attracted
mostly a new wave audience in the ’80s, few of whom probably liked the Dead, their music does broach
comparison with Garcia and company in several ways. NRBQ made concerts a spontaneous experience,
never playing the same set twice, and they built their sound on old scraps of Americana.
The difference between NRBQ and the Dead is that NRBQ liked to be goofy while the Dead played it
serious. They also didn’t go for long solos, but guitarists Al Anderson or Steve Ferguson sure could play.
Any album between 1971’s Scraps and 1983’s Grooves in Orbit will give you an idea of why this band was
so unique. Just be sure to pick them up on vintage vinyl since some of the CD remasters are saddled with
revisionist mixes that add harsh digital reverb straight out of a late ’80s nightmare.
If you’re 30 or younger, you probably know Bonnie Raitt for the Grammy Award-winning albums she made in
the late 1980s and early 1990s, all of which are fine albums but only tell part of her story. Her full story
actually parallels that of the Grateful Dead. Both were major label acts who made homey, roots-conscious
music in the 1970s and played to enthusiastic cult audiences. Garcia and Raitt both had bracingly original
guitar styles, with hers being based around her slide guitar prowess. And both acts exploded commercially
in the late 1980s, gaining the kind of mass popularity few people thought would ever be possible. Raitt is a
first-rate singer as well as guitar player, so her musical skills alone make virtually all of her work worth
Still, Raitt’s early albums have a special je ne sais quoi about them because of the singular way she revives
old styles without ever sounding stodgy or antiquated. Her most compelling albums include pretty much
everything from her self-titled debut album to the harder rocking Green Light from 1981. That LP features a
bunch of latter-day roots rockers, including the aforementioned NRBQ. Raitt also performed with the Dead
at a New Year’s Eve show in 1989, where she played some slide guitar on a cover of Jimmy Reed’s “Big
The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band
One of the more pleasant surprises newbies find when exploring the music of the Grateful Dead is that it’s
not as weird as the band’s name or reputation would suggest. But if you’re one of the Deadheads who
sometimes wished things were a bit stranger, this is the band to seek out. Like the Dead, the West Coast
Pop Art Experimental Band were a product of late 1960s California. But unlike the Dead, this band (who will
henceforth be known as the WCPAEB) came from Los Angeles, not San Francisco, and explored the seedy
side of that city in its music, not the imaginary fruited plains of Americana. And the results are…pretty
disturbing but informative, and probably worth a listen to anyone who prefers the odder side of the 1960s.
The WCPAEB released five albums, or six if you count a final effort done under the moniker Markley --- A
Group. Their records balanced the melodic smarts of young songwriters Michael Lloyd, Ron Morgan, and
brothers Shaun and Dan Harris, with the idiosyncratic lyrics of middle-aged lawyer-turned-scenester Bob
Markley, who didn’t really sing or play an instrument but appeared on stage anyway. What Markley did was
rant, and some of his ramblings make for the band’s most chilling moments, like the anti-war tract
“Suppose They Give A War And No One Comes?” from 1967’s Vol. 2 (Breaking Through) and the title track
the band’s next album, the psychedelic classic Volume 3: A Child’s Guide to Good and Evil.
Markley’s lyrics were sometimes pretentious, but could also be insightful, the best examples being his
disturbing tales of dysfunctional family dynamics like “Tracy Had a Hard Day Sunday” and “Carte Blanche”
(the latter allegedly being about Paris Hilton’s mom). The group’s best album is probably its least known,
the self-reflective Where’s My Daddy? from 1969, released when their brand of all-out psychedelia was
yesterday’s news. The photo of the girl on the front cover of that album is almost as unnerving as the band’s
story, which should definitely not be read by anyone who just wants to groove to the group’s trippy records.
But if you want to take the plunge, track down Tim Forster’s epic three-part article that ran in issues 5-7 of
the British magazine Shindig! If nothing else, it’ll make the Dead’s tales of acid trips and Merry Pranksters
seem positively wholesome.
The late California-based rock satirist and modern classical composer was endlessly prolific and eclectic
during his lifetime, so it’s sometimes hard to know where to start with his gigantic catalog. Deadheads
should check out the early, politically-minded satirical rock he did with the Mothers of Invention in the late
1960s which includes the albums Freak Out, Absolutely Free, and We’re Only in it for the Money. Zappa
also went through a jazzy experimental phase, so if you’re into instrumental compositions his Hot Rats,
Waka Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo, and Sleep Dirt are the albums to listen to. Fans of “Dark Star”-type
onstage instrumental improvisation shouldn’t miss his three-album set, Shut Up and Play Yer Guitar, which
is nothing but live improv (a follow-up, Guitar, is less exciting but more conventionally listenable).
A lot of people came to dislike Zappa during the 1970s because of the immature, scatological nature of his
lyrics, but songs like “Don’t Eat the Yellow Snow,” and “Titties & Beer” make up just one segment of his
catalog -- and definitely not the best part of it. When he’s good, he’s very good, and as much as he poked
fun at hippies on some of his albums, the freedom that the hippie movement brought to pop music made it
possible for him to do what he did for as long as he did.