The Album Cover

About The AlbumEdit

Formed in 1967 [sic], The Grateful Dead championed the free-form improvisational sound that defined San Francisco rock & roll in the 60's. Jerry Garcia (guitar), Phil Lesh (bass), Bob Weir (guitar), Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards) and Bill Kreutzmann (drums) made up the original band. In 1968 they added Mickey Hart to the line-up.

The band's first four albums, Grateful Dead (1967), Anthem of the Sun (1968), Aoxomoxoa (1969) and Live Dead (1970) concentrated on capturing the band's legendary live sound on vinyl. On Workingman's Dead (1970), the band returned to its American musical roots with a selection of blues, country and folk-styled originals.

The trend continued with American Beauty (1970). Produced by the Grateful Dead, the album contains 10 original selections showcasing the band's songwriting skills. Three cuts, "Truckin'," "Box Of Rain," and "Ripple," received considerable FM radio play, while songs such as "Sugar Magnolia" and "Friend Of The Devil" became standards in the group's concert repertoire. American Beauty's country-blues feel was enhanced by guest performances from famed mandolin player David Grisman, guitarist Dave Nelson (of New Riders Of The Purple Sage) and others. In 2001, the album was released in The Golden Road box set with bonus songs and reissued again 2003 on it's own. There is also a DVD Audio 5.1 surround sound version that Mickey Hart mixed that was also released in 2001. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine listed this as album 258 on their greatest albums of all time list. In 1991, it was listed as 57th best albums of all times.

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American Beauty is the fifth album by the Grateful Dead. It was recorded between August and September 1970 and originally released in November 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. The album continued the folk rock and country music explored on Workingman's Dead and features the lyrics of Robert Hunter prominently.

The band began recording American Beauty only a few months after the release of Workingman's Dead. An odd occurrence was that the band recorded the album without their sound crew, which was out on the road as part of the Medicine Ball Caravan tour (which the Dead were originally scheduled to join), and this led to staff engineer Stephen Barncard replacing Bob Matthews as producer -- "a move that irks Matthews to this day." Barncard mused that "I had heard bad stories about engineers' interactions with the Dead ... but what I found were a bunch of hardworking guys."
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Both Workingman's Dead and American Beauty were innovative at the time for their fusion of bluegrass, rock and roll, folk music and, especially, country. Compared to Workingman's Dead, American Beauty had even less lead guitar work from Jerry Garcia, who instead filled the void with shimmering pedal steel guitar passages on both albums. It was during the recording of this album that Garcia would first collaborate with mandolinist David Grisman. "I just bumped into Jerry at a baseball game in Fairfax, and he said, 'Hey, you wanna play on this record we're doing?'" commented Grisman. Phil Lesh, in his autobiography, commented "the magnetism of the scene at Wally Heider's recording studio made it a lot easier for me to deal with Dad's loss and my new responsibilities. Some of the best musicians around were hanging there during that period; with Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Santana, Crosby, Nash, and Neil Young working there, the studio became jammer heaven ... Thank the Lord for music; it's a healing force beyond words to describe."

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"Truckin'" and "Ripple" were released as a single, and the songs "Box of Rain", "Sugar Magnolia", and "Friend of the Devil" also received radio play. In his book on Garcia, Blair Jackson noted that "if you liked rock'n'roll in 1970, but didn't like the Dead, you were out of luck, because they were inescapable that summer and fall." American Beauty peaked at #30 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart (North America), while the single, "Truckin'", peaked at #64 on the Pop Singles chart and achieved considerable FM rock radio airplay. It is the final album with Mickey Hart until his return to the band four years later in 1975.

Track listingEdit

  1. "Box of Rain" (Robert Hunter, Phil Lesh) – 5:18
  2. "Friend of the Devil" (Jerry Garcia, John Dawson, Hunter) – 3:24
  3. "Sugar Magnolia" (Bob Weir, Hunter) – 3:19
  4. "Operator" (Ron McKernan) – 2:25
  5. "Candyman" (Garcia, Hunter) – 6:14
  6. "Ripple" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:09
  7. "Brokedown Palace" (Garcia, Hunter) – 4:09
  8. "Till the Morning Comes" (Garcia, Hunter) – 3:08
  9. "Attics of My Life" (Garcia, Hunter) – 5:12
  10. "Truckin'" (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Hunter) – 5:03

The 2003 Rhino reissue, on HDCD, added the following tracks:

  1. "Truckin'" (Single Edit) – 3:17
  2. "Friend of the Devil" (Live — May 15, 1970 at Fillmore East in New York City) – 4:21
  3. "Candyman" (Live — April 15, 1970 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco) – 5:18
  4. "Till the Morning Comes" (Live — October 4, 1970 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco) – 3:20
  5. "Attics of My Life" (Live — June 6, 1970 at Fillmore West in San Francisco) – 6:31
  6. "Truckin'" (Live — December 26, 1970 at Legion Stadium in Wilmington, Los Angeles, California) – 10:10
  7. "Ripple" (Single Version) – 3:02
  8. "American Beauty Promo" – 1:11

The final two tracks are unlisted. The "American Beauty Promo" is a radio commercial promoting the release of this album.


Grateful Dead
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The Grateful Dead November 1970.

Additional performers
  • Dave Collins — pre-mastering assistance
  • Tom Flye — engineering, mixing, mastering supervision
  • Joe Gastwirt — pre-mastering assistance
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    November 1970 with David Nelson and John "Marmaduke" Dawson of the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

  • Daniel Goldmark — editorial research
  • Robin Hurley — production
  • David McLees — executive production
  • Jeffrey Norman — engineering
  • Fred Ordower — engineering
  • Rudson Shurtliff — engineering
  • Robert Altman - photography
  • Henry Diltz — photography
  • Ginger Dettman — project assistance
  • Herbert Greene — photography
  • Stanley Mouse — photography, design
  • Fred Ordower — photography
  • Steve Pokorny — project assistance
  • Amalie R. Rothschild — photography
  • Steve Woolard — project assistants
Reissue production credits
  • Greg Allen — design, reissue art direction
  • Shawn Amos — liner notes coordination
  • Vanessa Atkins — editorial supervision
  • James Austin — reissue production
  • Stephen Barncard — production, audio supervision
  • Hugh Brown — design, reissue art direction
  • Jimmy Edwards — product management
  • David Gans — liner notes, project assistance
  • Joe Gastwirt - mastering, production consultation
  • Daniel Goldmark — editorial research
  • Rachel Gutek — design, reissue art direction
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    November 1970 with David Nelson and John "Marmaduke" Dawson of the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

  • Michael Wesley Johnson — associate production
  • Eileen Law — research
  • David Lemieux- reissue production
  • Jo Motta — project coordinator
  • Jeffrey Norman - mixing
  • Gary Peterson — liner note coordination
  • Steve Silberman, Bill Belmont, David Gans, Jeff Gold, Bill Inglot, Blair Jackson, Gary Lambert, Steve Lang, David McLees, Hale Milgrim, Randy Perry, Janette L. Simmons, Owsley "Bear" Stanley - project assistance