Photo Credit: Bob Minkin

Grateful Dead bandleader Jerry Garcia was involved in many other musical projects over his career, none more widely known than the Jerry Garcia band formed in 1975. Garcia was known to have widely varied musical tastes, and the Jerry Garcia Band served as an outlet for an alternate take on the rock played by the Grateful Dead, favoring an R&B flavored approach applied to a wide range of source material.

The group recorded only one studio album in 1978 and while the group was known for their covers the album features only original material. It was the fourth solo record by Garcia apart from the Grateful Dead, and critics at the time considered it his best. Jerry Garcia agreed, stating in the early 90s that “As far as I’m concerned Cats Under the Stars is my most successful record — even though it’s my least successful record! I’ve always loved it and it just never went anywhere.”

As with the Grateful Dead, the Jerry Garcia Band was primarily focused on live performances. Preferring clubs and smaller venues, the band played a repertoire including R&B, bluegrass, cajun, rock and classic country. For a time in the late 80s and early 90s the band performed in larger venues riding on the success of the Grateful Dead’s 1987 double platinum In the Dark album. During the same period the group continued a 15 show a year residency at San Francisco’s Warfield Theatre.

After Jerry Garcia’s death in 1995, longtime band members John Kahn and Melvin Seals continued the group and JGB. Eventually it was only Seals remaining and the group continues today as Melvin Seals and JGB.