Watch 7 Different Jerry Garcia Band Lineups Performing Live

By Andy Kahn Oct 13, 2020 11:38 am PDT

The first officially billed “Jerry Garcia Band” concert was held on September 18, 1975 at Sophie’s in Palo Alto, California. Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia consistently changed the JGB lineup, with 24 musicians holding membership at one point over the course of the group’s 20 year run.

The lone constant mainstay of the Jerry Garcia Band — besides Garcia — was bassist John Kahn. Garcia and Kahn first played together with Howard Wales in 1970 and their musical collaborations continued through Garcia’s untimely death at age 53 on August 9, 1995. Kahn was only 48-years-old when he died on May 30, 1996.

The JamBase Live Video Archive contains over 100 Jerry Garcia Band live concert videos featuring many of the group’s ever-evolving lineups. Scroll on to watch seven separate Jerry Garcia Band lineups spanning 1976 to 1994.

April 2, 1976

JGB debuted with Garcia, Kahn, famed session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins and drummer Bill Vitt who previously performed with Elvis Presley. James Booker replaced Hopkins for a pair of January 1976 shows, but by the end of the month, Grateful Dead keyboardist Keith Godchaux was playing keys for JGB alongside his wife and fellow at-the-time GD member, Donna Jean Godchaux. That lineup can be seen above performing “Tore Up Over You,” a Hank Ballard tune and JGB live staple that appeared on Garcia’s 1976 solo album, Reflections, on April 2, 1976 at The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey..


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Grateful Dead on MV (See 44 videos)
Jerry Garcia Band (See 161 videos)

March 17, 1978

In 1977, Garcia changed the JGB lineup, bringing in drummer Buzz Buchanan to replace Vitt. Garcia also brought vocalist Maria Muldaur into the band. Muldaur’s 1973 self-titled debut album contained the hit “Midnight At The Oasis.” She also appeared on Garcia’s 1974 solo album Compliments and again on 1978’s Cats Under The Stars and 1982’s Run For The Roses. Muldaur’s contribution to Cats included adding vocals to “Love In The Afternoon,” a pseudo-reggae song written by Kahn and Garcia’s longtime writing partner, lyricist Robert Hunter. Watch a performance above of “Love In The Afternoon” from St. Patrick’s Day 1978 at The Capitol Theatre.


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Grateful Dead on MV (See 44 videos)
Jerry Garcia Band (See 161 videos)

March 1, 1980

The Jerry Garcia Band went through a few changes in personnel following the departure of the Godchauxs from both JGB and the Dead. One short-lived incarnation saw Garcia and Kahn joined by keyboardist Ozzie Ahlers (who previously worked with Van Morrison and Peter Rowan’s band Free Mexican Airforce) and drummer Johnny d’Fonseca. Here they are back at the Cap for a performance of “Catfish John” on March 1, 1980. Check out that footage above and find more information on “Catfish John” from JamBase’s “Days Between Deep Dive” into Reflections:

Garcia recorded “Catfish John” in October 1973 with his bluegrass band Old & In The Way whose membership included Kahn on bass, guitarist Peter Rowan, mandolinist David Grisman, fiddler Vassar Clements and Jerry on banjo. That “Catfish John” recording appeared on the 1996 Old & In The Way album, That High Lonesome Sound. Written by Bob McDill and Allen Reynolds, “Catfish John” was originally released on McDill’s 1972 album, Short Stories. McDill went on to write several hit songs for the likes of Pam Tillis, Don Williams, Juice Newton, Alan Jackson and other country musicians. The song was often played by the Jerry Garcia Band and despite a reggae-styled studio outtake from the fall 1976 Terrapin Station recording sessions, “Catfish John” was never performed live by the Grateful Dead.


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Grateful Dead on MV (See 44 videos)
Jerry Garcia Band (See 161 videos)

July 26, 1980

A few months later, Jerry was employing a different drummer, this time swapping for Sly & The Family Stone drummer Greg Errico for d’Fonseca. Garcia, Khan, Ahlers and Errico can be seen above covering The Beatles’ “Dear Prudence” on July 26, 1980 at the Convention Hall in Asbury Park, New Jersey.


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Grateful Dead on MV (See 44 videos)
Jerry Garcia Band (See 161 videos)

October 31, 1986

Other than Kahn, the longest tenured member of the Jerry Garcia Band (not named Jerry Garcia) was keyboardist Melvin Seals who came into the fold in 1981. On The JamBase Podcast, Seals told the story of being recruited for the band, recalling:

When I got with Jerry, I was just recently out of working with Elvin Bishop. And when I worked with Elvin Bishop, I did some work with Maria Muldaur. Her boyfriend was John Kahn, bass player of Jerry Garcia Band. And so the interesting thing, I was very involved with the church. I had a gospel record company. I had a gospel label producing a lot of gospel music, it was just in me. And so, you know, I was very close to the church and what we were doing there.

And I got with the Jerry Garcia Band through John Kahn. He did some work, played with Maria when I was working with Maria, and he was just paying attention to me. And one day he came up and said, “Man, would you be interested in playing in another band?”

Seals stayed with JGB, whose legacy he keeps alive, through 1995 and can be seen above with Garcia, Kahn, drummer Gaylord Birch (whose credits include Santana and Herbie Hancock) and backing vocalists Jaclyn LaBranch and Gloria Jones. Watch that lineup covering Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” on Halloween 1986 at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center in Oakland.


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Harry Angus (See 29 videos)
Jerry Garcia Band (See 161 videos)

September 3, 1989

Drummer David Kemper was in JGB for a stint between 1983 and 1985, but was replaced by Birch for parts of ‘85 and ‘86. Kemper came back in early-1986 and stayed with the group until late-1993. He then went on to join Bob Dylan’s band for several years. This video of Garcia, Kahn, Seals, LaBranch, Jones and Kemper features their cover of Jimmy Cliff’s reggae favorite “The Harder They Come” from September 3, 1989 at The Spectrum in Philadelphia.


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Brant P (See 12 videos)
Jerry Garcia Band (See 161 videos)

November 11, 1994

The final Jerry Garcia Band lineup once again saw another change behind the drum kit. Garcia brought in Donny Baldwin to play drums for what became the last JGB shows. Baldwin had previously played with Elvin Bishop and was Jefferson Starship’s drummer. The last lineup of the JGB can be seen above playing “Cats Under The Stars” to open the show on November 11, 1994 at the Kaiser Center.


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Jerry Garcia Band (See 161 videos)

Thanks to TheGarciaProject.com, Lost Live Dead and jerrygarcia.com for information used in this article.


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