Celebrating 48 Years Of The Grateful Dead's 'Aoxomoxoa' June 20, 2017 10:24
The Grateful Dead began their career as the Warlocks, a group formed in early 1965 from the remnants of a Palo Alto, California jug band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. The band's first show was at Magoo's Pizza located at 639 Santa Cruz Avenue in suburban Menlo Park, California, on May 5, 1965. Coincidentally, Velvet Underground was also performing under that name on the East Coast. After literally opening a dictionary and falling on 'Grateful Dead', the band would perform under its permanent name for the first time in San Jose, CA on December 4th, 1965 at one of Ken Kesey's 'Acid Tests'.
After signing with Warner Brothers Records, the band hit the studio hard over the next few years; releasing their debut self-titled album in 1967 and Anthem Of The in 1968. Just two months before the inaugural Woodstock in 1969, the Dead released its third studio album Aoxomoxoa. One of the first rock albums to be recorded using 16-track technology, fans and critics alike consider this era to be the band's experimental apex. This was the second studio album to feature second drummer Mickey Hart, who joined the band in 1967. The title is a meaningless palindrome created by cover artist Rick Griffin and lyricist Robert Hunter and is usually pronounced "ox-oh-mox-oh-ah."
When looking at Grateful Dead history, quite a few are connected with Aoxomoxoa. It is the first album the band recorded entirely in or near their original hometown of San Francisco. It is the only studio release to include pianist Tom Constanten as an official member. It was also the first to have lyricist Robert Hunter as a full-time contributor to the band, which cemented the Jerry Garcia/Robert Hunter songwriting partnership that endured for the rest of the band's existence. It was also the first time the band would emphasize acoustic songs (such as "Mountains of the Moon" and "Dupree's Diamond Blues"), which would become the focus of the next two studio albums.
Some of the songs on Aoxomoxoa were played live briefly and then dropped. Only "China Cat Sunflower" became a set staple through the band's career, though "St. Stephen" was played until 1971, revived in 1976 and 1977 and played a handful of times after that. Likewise, "Cosmic Charlie" was played a few times again in 1976.
1. St Stephen
2. Dupree's Diamond Blues
4. Doin' That Rag
5. Mountains on the Moon
6. China Cat Sunflower
7. What's Become of the Baby
8. Cosmic Charlie
Listen to Aoxomoxoa in its entirety here: