Happy Birthday Merl Saunders | Jerry And Merl '73 Video

Today marks what would've been legendary keyboardist Merl Saunders's 80th birthday. Merl passed away in 2008 after an amazing career that saw him perform as part of Garcia/Saunders, Legion Of Mary, The Dinosaurs Jerry Garcia, The Dinosaurs and his own Rainforest Band. Saunders also famously reintroduced Garcia to his guitar after Jerry's diabetic coma in 1986.

In honor of the occasion we wanted to share a rare video filmed in 1973 featuring Jerry and Merl. On September 5, 1973, the Hell’s Angels threw a private party aboard a boat named the SS Bay Belle that sailed around the NY Harbor. For entertainment, the infamous motorcycle club brought Bo Diddley, Elephant’s Memory and Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders. A clip of Garcia, Saunders, bassist John Kahn and drummer Bill Kreutzmann performing a cover of "That’s Alright Mama" at this private party, interspersed with footage of a biker wedding and the party, appears in the 1983 documentary Hells Angels Forever.

It’s important to note that this “show” was the first time Garcia’s Doug Irwin-built Wolf axe was played in public after it was delivered to Jerry the previous May. You’ve got to think that the filmmakers didn’t just record one tune, so hopefully more of this incredibly historic footage will surface. For now, check out "That’s Alright Mama" complete with boobies a jiggling, so don’t watch this one at work.

[Published on: 2/14/14]

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