Workingman's Dead

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Workingman's Dead
A black-on-sepia image of men in Stetson hats standing along a road
Studio album by Grateful Dead
Released June 14, 1970 (1970-06-14)
Recorded February 1970;
Pacific High Recording Studio,
San Francisco California
Genre Rock, country rock
Length 36:00
Label Warner Bros.
WS 1869
Producer Bob Matthews, Betty Cantor, Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead chronology
Workingman's Dead
American Beauty
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars [1]
American Songwriter 5/5 stars[2]
Robert Christgau A [3]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars [4]

Workingman's Dead is the fifth album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It was recorded in February 1970 and originally released on June 14, 1970.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 262 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

It was reissued in 2003 in three different formats: as part of the The Golden Road (1965–1973) 12-CD box set, as a remastered and expanded CD, and as a DVD-audio release. The first two contain eight exclusive tracks not found on the original 1970 release while the latter contains just the original tracks rendered in DVD-audio. In 2014, it was reissued as a two-LP set mastered at 45 rpm by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab.

Making of the album[edit]

The title of the album comes from a comment from Jerry Garcia to lyricist Robert Hunter about how "this album was turning into the Workingman's Dead version of the band".[5]

The band returned to the Pacific High Recording Studio in San Francisco to record the album and spent just nine days there. Garcia noted that "let's do it all in three weeks and get it the hell out of the way".[6] Besides the weight of their debt in producing their previous album, Aoxomoxoa, the band was also dealing with the stress of a recent drug bust in New Orleans—which could have possibly resulted in jail time—and their manager Lenny Hart (father of drummer Mickey Hart) skipping town with a sizable chunk of the band's wealth. "In midst of all this adverse stuff that was happening ... [recording the album] was definitely an upper," said Garcia in an interview.[7]

Garcia has commented that much of the sound of the album comes both from his pairing with Hunter as well as the band's friendship with Crosby, Stills and Nash. "Hearing those guys sing and how nice they sounded together, we thought, 'We can try that. Let's work on it a little,'" commented Garcia.[8]

Songs such as "Uncle John's Band", "High Time", and "Cumberland Blues" were brought to life with soaring harmonies and layered vocal textures that had not been a part of the band's sound until then. According to the 1992 Dead oral history, Aces Back to Back, in the summer of 1968, Stephen Stills vacationed at Mickey Hart's ranch in Novato. "Stills lived with me for three months around the time of CSN's first record," recalls Hart, "and he and David Crosby really turned Jerry and Bobby onto the voice as the holy instrument. You know, 'Hey, is this what a voice can do?' That turned us away from pure improvisation and more toward songs."

Warner Bros. released "Uncle John's Band" backed with "New Speedway Boogie" as a single, but it received limited airplay. This was neither, as once postulated, because of length issues nor concerns about profanity, since the single issue had been edited to a very radio-friendly three-minute length and the word "goddamn" removed. "Casey Jones" was also released as a single, but did not chart in the U.S.

Lyricist Robert Hunter appears as the seventh member on the cover of the album.

The album was voted by readers of Rolling Stone as the best album of 1970, in front of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young's Déjà Vu and Van Morrison's Moondance.[5]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Uncle John's Band"   4:42
2. "High Time"   5:12
3. "Dire Wolf"   3:11
4. "New Speedway Boogie"   4:01
Side two
No. Title Length
5. "Cumberland Blues" (Garcia, Hunter, and Phil Lesh) 3:14
6. "Black Peter"   5:41
7. "Easy Wind" (Hunter) 4:57
8. "Casey Jones"   4:24
2003 reissue bonus tracks
No. Title Length
9. "New Speedway Boogie (alternate mix)"   4:10
10. "Dire Wolf" (live) 2:31
11. "Black Peter" (live) 9:07
12. "Easy Wind" (live) 8:09
13. "Cumberland Blues" (live) 4:52
14. "Mason's Children" (Garcia, Hunter, Lesh, and Bob Weir) 6:32
15. "Uncle John's Band" (live) 7:57
16. "Radio promo"   1:00
Bonus tracks production details
  • "Dire Wolf" recorded at Santa Rosa Veteran's Memorial Hall in Santa Rosa CA on 6/27/1969
  • "Black Peter" recorded at Golden Hall Community Concourse in San Diego CA on 1/10/1970
  • "Easy Wind" recorded at Springer's Ballroom in Portland OR on 1/16/1970
  • "Cumberland Blues" recorded at the Oregon State University (Gymnasium) in Corvallis OR on 1/17/1970
  • "Mason's Children" recorded at the Civic Auditorium in Honolulu HI on 1/24/1970
  • "Uncle John's Band" recorded at Winterland in San Francisco CA on 10/04/1970 (sleevenotes incorrectly listed as recorded at Winterland, 12/23/70)[9][10]


Grateful Dead
Additional musicians
  • Produced by Bob Matthews, Betty Cantor, Grateful Dead
  • Engineered by Alembic
  • Equipment crew: Ramrod, Rex Jackson, S. Heard
  • Big nurse: Jon McIntire
  • Executive nanny: Sam Cutler
  • Lady in waiting: Cosmic Gail
  • Guardians of the vault: David Parker, Bonnie Parker
  • Cover photo, art, and design: Mouse Studios, with Toon N Tree
  • Special thanks: John Dawson
Reissue production credits
  • Reissue produced for release by James Austin, David Lemieux
  • Executive producer: Peter McQuaid
  • Associate producer and research coordination: Michael Wesley Johnson
  • Archival research: Eileen Law
  • Project coordinator: Cassidy Law
  • Business affairs: Eric Doney, Nancy Mallonee, Malia Doss
  • Grateful mentor: Dennis McNally
  • Mastering, production consultant: Joe Gastwirt
  • Production manager: Jimmy Edwards
  • Project coordination: Joe Motta
  • Discographical annotation: Gary Peterson
  • Liner notes coordination: Shawn Amos
  • Editorial supervision: Daniel Goldmark
  • Reissue art direction: Hugh Brown, Greg Allen, Rachel Gutek
  • Design: Rachel Gutek, Greg Allen
  • Poster on book cover: David Singer

Sales chart performance[edit]


Chart Position
Pop Albums 27[citation needed]

RIAA Certification[11]

Certification Date
Gold July 11, 1974
Platinum October 13, 1986

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ankeny, Jason. Workingman's Dead at AllMusic
  2. ^ Beviglia, Jim (January–February 2014). "The Grateful Dead: Workingman's Dead". American Songwriter (ForASong Media, LLC) 29 (2): 55. ISSN 0896-8993. Retrieved December 27, 2013. 
  3. ^ Grateful Dead album ratings at
  4. ^ Grateful Dead album ratings, Rolling Stone
  5. ^ a b Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip . Jake Woodward, et al. Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2003, p. 108.
  6. ^ Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 181.
  7. ^ Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 189.
  8. ^ Grateful Dead: The Illustrated Trip . Jake Woodward, et al. Dorling Kindersley Limited, 2003, p. 119.
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ "RIAA Gold & Platinum database-Workingman's Dead". Retrieved February 28, 2009.