Hear Jerry Garcia Explore His Bluegrass Roots In Early 60s Recording Of “Sitting On Top Of The World”

Hear Jerry Garcia Explore His Bluegrass Roots In Early 60s Recording Of “Sitting On Top Of The World” | Society Of Rock Videos

photo credit: rollingstone.com

Hart Valley Drifters | Stanford University’s Folk Time, 1962

Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia may have risen to fame as one of the foremost icons of the counterculture era, but before he was delivering lengthy, drug fueled instrumental jams with the Grateful Dead, Jerry spent his early 20s working in bluegrass and folk bands, even forming his own Hart Valley Drifters with bass player Robert Hunter, New Riders of the Purple Sage co-founder David Nelson on guitar, Norm Van Maastricht on Dobro, and Ken Frankel on banjo, fiddle and guitar.

In 1962, the Hart Valley Drifters converged upon Stanford University’s KZSU studio to perform a few songs for the station’s Folk Time program, the tapes ultimately thought to be lost – until 2008, that is, when the tapes were discovered by former Stanford student Ted Claire, who originally recorded the session more than 40 years earlier.

Among the various tapes was an early, stripped down version of “Sitting On Top Of The World” featuring only Jerry Garcia and Ken Frankel, sharing vocal and guitar duties respectively. A far cry from the hard rockin’ version that would grace Grateful Dead’s 1967 debut album 5 years later, “Sitting On Top Of The World” as a delicate bluegrass tune might not be for everyone, but the sheer love that Jerry had for music at only 20 years old is overwhelming and look back at the days when musicians played music because they loved it – not because it was going to make them rich. Check out this early, stripped down take on “Sitting On Top Of The World” in the audio below and as always, let us know what you think!

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