The Grateful Dead capped the Sixties with Live/Dead, a double-album that confirmed them as masters of acid-improv. But the spring of 1970 found the group's sound radically redirected on Workingman's Dead. Breezy harmonies and beer-soaked ballads replaced the previous blend of liquid noodling and lysergic lyrics, and no song illustrated the change more succinctly than the opening track, "Uncle John's Band." Jerry Garcia and lyricist Robert Hunter recalled the song's origins in a 1991 interview with Grateful Dead historian Blair Jackson. According to Garcia, "At that time I was listening to records of the Bulgarian Women's Choir and also this Greek-Macedonian music, and on one of those records there was a... little turn of melody that was so lovely... I thought, 'Gee, if I could get this into a song it would be so great.' So, I stole it." Eventually, Hunter received a tape of the band's finished arrangement. "I played it over and over [and] kept hearing the words 'God damn, Uncle John's mad'... and it took a while for that to turn into 'Come hear Uncle John's Band,' and that's one of those little things where the ...
Among Jerry Garcia's most well-known electric guitars is the unique instrument dubbed "Rosebud." Built for Garcia by luthier Doug Irwin, who had previously worked for Alembic guitars, it was the fourth guitar that Irwin had made for the Grateful Dead's charismatic vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.
While Irwin had named the guitar "the Saint," noting that the large inlay below the bridge was "a skeleton in the act of repelling death," Garcia changed the name. Nobody is entirely certain what inspired the "Rosebud" moniker, though Garcia's interest in film and the rose in the skeleton's mouth have been conjectured as possible explanations.
Garcia first played the guitar in 1989, and it was his main stage guitar until 1993.
In this video, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum curatorial director Howard Kramer shares the story and details behind Garcia's famous electric guitar, now on exhibit as part of the Rock Hall's Grateful Dead: The Long, Strange Trip exhibit.
Today—with help from over 100 donors from around the country—our curators hung the iconic Yasgur’s Farm dairy sign in the museum. It was installed to coincide with the 42nd Anniversary of the Woodstock Art and Music Festival. See photos of the sign installation here!
Some readers will be familiar with the story. The remarkable sign was preserved for 40 years by a neighbor and was recently acquired by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. An anonymous donor agreed to contribute $12,000—half the purchase price—with the condition that other music fans provide the remainder through a grassroots online fundraising campaign. We elected to use website kickstarter.com. From there the fans took over and contributed the rest of the funds in a few short weeks—THANK YOU.
If you are passing through Cleveland stop in and see the sign. It hangs in the museum next to the famed awning from CBGB’s, about 50 feet from Jerry’s guitars, Janis’ Porsche, and a few thousand other incredible artifacts documenting the most powerful art form in history – ROCK AND ROLL!
Over 100 individuals supported the campaign including:
Craig A. Adams