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Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses)

Grateful Dead

Initial release : September 1971

Warner Bros. 2WS-1935

The seventh Grateful Dead album is a two LP set of live recordings. An expanded double CD 50th anniversary edition of this album was released in 2021.


LP 1 - side 1

  • Bertha (Garcia / Hunter)
  • Mama Tried (Merle Haggard)
  • Big Railroad Blues (Noah Lewis arr. Grateful Dead)
  • Playing In The Band (Weir / Hunter)
LP 1 - side 2
  • The Other One (Kreutzmann / Weir)
LP 2 - side 1
  • Me and My Uncle (Phillips)
  • Big Boss Man (Smith / Dixon)
  • Me and Bobby McGee (Kristofferson / Foster)
  • Johnny B. Goode (Chuck Berry)
LP 2 - side 2
  • Wharf Rat (Garcia / Hunter)
  • Not Fade Away (Petty / Hardin)
  • Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad (Traditional arr. Grateful Dead)
Bonus tracks on 2003 expanded CD release;
  • Oh Boy! (Live)
  • I'm A Hog For You (Live) (Leiber / Stoller)
    Hidden track
  • 1 min radio spot

  • Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
  • Bill Kreutzmann - drums
  • Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
  • Pigpen (Ron McKernan) - organ, harmonica, vocals
  • Bob Weir - guitar, vocals

  • Merl Saunders - organ on Bertha, Playing In The Band, Wharf Rat (overdubbed in studio)

  • Producer - Grateful Dead
  • Engineer - Bob and Betty (Bob Matthews and Betty Cantor)
  • Live recording for Alembic by Bob and Betty (Bob Matthews and Betty Cantor)
  • Artwork - Kelly
  • Photography - Bob Seidman

  • Selections taken from recordings made live at Winterland, San Francisco; Manhattan Center, New York City; Bill Graham's Fabled Fillmore East, New York City

The album that carried the now famous invitation;

Who are you? Where are you?
How are you?
Send us your name and address
and we'll keep you informed
Dead Heads
P.O. Box 1065
San Rafael, California

The official title of this album is Grateful Dead or possibly Grateful Dead Live. It is more commonly referred to as Skull and Roses (after the cover art) or Skull Fuck. The band originally wanted this latter title to be used but, not surprisingly, Warner Brothers objected. Faced with the probability of the album not being stocked by many retailers and therefore low sales the band gave way. The album became the groups highest selling album at that time and the first for which they received gold discs.

The music makes the argument over the title irrelevant, in an interview for Rolling Stone Garcia commented;

It's the prototype Grateful Dead. Basic unit. Each of those tracks is the total picture, a good example of what the Grateful Dead really is, musically.
The striking skull and roses cover image originates from a black and white illustration by Edmund Sullivan taken from a nineteenth century edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Kelly added coloring and lettering to produce a poster for a Dead show at the Avalon in 1966.

The songs on this album are thought to be from the following shows;

  • Johnny B Goode - Winterland, March 24, 1971
  • Big Railroad Blues, Not Fade Away and Goin' Down The Road Feeling Bad - Manhattan Center, April 5, 1971
  • Mama Tried, Big Boss Man and Wharf Rat - Fillmore East, April 26, 1971
  • Bertha and Me And Bobby McGee - Fillmore East, April 27, 1971
  • The Other One - Fillmore East, April 28, 1971
  • Me And My Uncle - Fillmore East, April 29, 1971

  • Playing In The Band - uncertain
Related releases

Issued on CD in 1987 by Warner Brothers 2-1935.

Expanded CD release in 2003.

Johnny B. Goode was included on a single:

Me And My Uncle and Playing In The Band were included on the Grateful Dead compilation: An expanded CD release of this album with bonus tracks was included in the box set: The expanded CD release that formed part of the Golden Road box set was released as an individual item in February 2003. This CD release was remastered in HDCD and included extra tracks, an expanded booklet, rare photos, and new liner notes.

All tracks from Grateful Dead (Skull and Roses) were included in the digital release;

An expanded double CD 50th anniversary edition of the Skull & Roses album was released in 2021: Johnny B Goode was included on the compilation: Big Railroad Blues was included on the compilation:
  • Fruity, Various Artists, 1972
For information about other releases that include music from this period see the 1971 section of the Dead by Date page.

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LP front
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LP rear
album cover

Gatefold inner
album cover

album cover