Live/Dead is the first official live album released by the San Francisco-based band Grateful Dead. It was recorded over a series of live concerts in early 1969 and released later in the year on November 10. At the time of its release, Robert Christgau wrote that side two of the double album "contains the finest rock improvisation ever recorded." A landmark live album that captured the Grateful Dead's improvisations at their best – Allmusic would write that "Few recordings have ever represented the essence of an artist in performance as faithfully as Live/Dead" – it is also the final album with keyboardist Tom Constanten.
The album was remastered and released with hidden bonus tracks (the single version of Dark Star and a radio promo) as part of the 2001 box set The Golden Road (1965–1973), and subsequently as a stand-alone album in 2003. For some strange reason, Bob weir's voice has been removed from the end of Turn On Your Lovelight on the remaster (this is the part where Bob and Pigpen did a call and answer thing).
The first 1:34 of "Dark Star" can be found on the previous track, "Mountains of the Moon", in the 2005 box set Fillmore West 1969: The Complete Recordings.
The songs were recorded with a mobile 16-track studio. Owsley "Bear" Stanley also asked Ron Wickersham to invent a mic splitter that fed both into the PA and the record inputs with no loss in quality."Dark Star" and "Saint Stephen" pairing was taken from the February 27, 1969 show at the Fillmore West; "The Eleven" and "Turn On Your Lovelight" were from the January 26, 1969 show at the Avalon Ballroom; "Death Don't Have No Mercy," "Feedback," and "And We Bid You Goodnight" were from the March 2, 1969 show at the Fillmore West.
Unlike in later years, in early 1969 the contents of the Dead's set lists varied little. They improvised the medley of "Dark Star"/"Saint Stephen"/"The Eleven" several times a week, which enabled them to explore widely within the songs' simple frameworks. The album was a financial success for the band in the eyes of their label, Warner Bros. Constanten had commented that "Warner Bros. had pointed out that they had sunk $100,000-plus into Aoxomoxoa ... so someone had the idea that if we sent them a double live album, three discs for the price of one wouldn't be such a bad deal."
A six-and-a-half-minute edit of "Turn On Your Lovelight" was issued first on Warner/Reprise Loss Leader album The Big Ball in 1970, and later on Skeletons from the Closet: The Best of Grateful Dead.
Back cover of Live/DeadThe cover art for Live/Dead is by R.D. Thomas. On the original album, the word "Live" is seen on the front cover, and the word "Dead" fills the back cover. The top part of the word "Dead" on the back cover spells "acid", a slang term for LSD, in block letters.
The original Warner Bros. LP [#2WS 1830] included a 8.5" X 11" bi-fold art and lyric book containing the lyrics to Saint Stephen, The Eleven and Dark Star.
The ElevenTurn On Your Lovelight
Death Don't Have No Mercy
And We Bid You Goodnight
Dark Star (single version)
Live/Dead Radio Promo
- Jerry Garcia - guitar, vocals
- Phil Lesh - bass, vocals
- Bob Weir - guitar, vocals
- Mickey Hart - percussion
- Bill Kreutzmann - percussion
- Tom Constanten (T.C.) - keyboards
- Pigpen - vocals, congas, organ on "Death Don't Have No Mercy"
- Bob Matthews - engineer, producer
- Betty Cantor - producer, engineer
- R.D. Thomas - cover art