American Beauty (album)

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American Beauty
A woodgrain panel with a circle in the middle—inscribed is a rose surrounded by the words "American Beauty"
Studio album by Grateful Dead
Released November 1, 1970 (1970-11-01)
Recorded August–September 1970, at Wally Heider Studios, San Francisco, California, United States
Genre Folk rock
Length 42:21
Language English
Label Warner Bros.
WS 1893
Producer Grateful Dead
Steve Barncard
Grateful Dead chronology
Vintage Dead
American Beauty
Historic Dead
Singles from American Beauty
  1. "Truckin'"/"Ripple"
    Released: January 1971 (1971-01)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars [1]
Robert Christgau A− [2]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars [3]
Sputnikmusic 5/5 stars [4]

American Beauty is the sixth album by the rock band the Grateful Dead. It was recorded between August and September 1970 and originally released in November 1970 by Warner Bros. Records. The album continued the folk rock and country music explored on Workingman's Dead and prominently features the lyrics of Robert Hunter.

In 2003, the album was ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.


The band began recording American Beauty only a few months after the release of Workingman's Dead, and without their regular sound crew, which was out on the road as part of the Medicine Ball Caravan tour (which the Dead were originally scheduled to join), and this led to staff engineer Stephen Barncard replacing Bob Matthews as producer—"a move that irks Matthews to this day". Barncard mused that "I had heard bad stories about engineers' interactions with the Dead but what I found were a bunch of hardworking guys".[5]

Both Workingman's Dead and American Beauty were innovative at the time for their fusion of bluegrass, rock and roll, folk, and, especially, country music. Compared to Workingman's Dead, American Beauty had even less lead guitar work from Jerry Garcia, who instead filled the void with pedal steel guitar passages on both albums. It was during the recording of this album that Garcia first collaborated with mandolinist David Grisman. "I just bumped into Jerry at a baseball game in Fairfax, and he said, 'Hey, you wanna play on this record we're doing?'" commented Grisman.[6] Phil Lesh, in his autobiography, commented "the magnetism of the scene at Wally Heider's recording studio made it a lot easier for me to deal with Dad's loss and my new responsibilities. Some of the best musicians around were hanging there during that period; with Paul Kantner and Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane, the Dead, Santana, Crosby, Nash, and Neil Young working there, the studio became jammer heaven. Thank the Lord for music; it's a healing force beyond words to describe."[7]

"Truckin'" and "Ripple" were released as singles,[8] and the songs "Box of Rain", "Sugar Magnolia", and "Friend of the Devil" also received radio play. In his book on Garcia, Blair Jackson noted that "if you liked rock'n'roll in 1970 but didn't like the Dead, you were out of luck, because they were inescapable that summer and fall".[6] American Beauty peaked at No. 30 on Billboard's Pop Albums chart (North America), while the single, "Truckin'", peaked at No. 64 on the Pop Singles chart and achieved considerable FM rock radio airplay. It was the final album with Mickey Hart until his return to the band four years later in 1975.


The title wording on the front cover is an ambigram; it can also be read as "American Reality".[9] The artwork was produced by Mouse-Kelley Studios.


Andy Zwerling of Rolling Stone felt that the album was a continuation of Workingman's Dead, though there was more care and contentment in the singing, as well as the instrument playing being rich.[10] Robert Christgau also compared the album favorably to Workingman's Dead, feeling it was "sweeter vocally and more direct instrumentally".[11]


Jason Ankeny in AllMusic feels that the album is the Dead's "studio masterpiece", and in comparing it to Workingman's Dead, it is "more representative of the group as a collective unit".[12] In 2003, the album was ranked number 258 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The American National Association of Recording Merchandisers placed the album at number 20 in its 2007 list of "definitive 200 albums".[13]

In 1991, Rolling Stone ranked American Beauty's album cover as the 57th best of all time.[14]

Track listing[edit]

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

Side one[edit]

  1. "Box of Rain" (Phil Lesh, Robert Hunter) – 5:18
  2. "Friend of the Devil" (Garcia, John Dawson, Hunter) – 3:24
  3. "Sugar Magnolia" (Bob Weir, Hunter) – 3:19
  4. "Operator" (Ron McKernan) – 2:25
  5. "Candyman" – 6:14

Side two[edit]

  1. "Ripple" – 4:09
  2. "Brokedown Palace" – 4:09
  3. "Till the Morning Comes" – 3:08
  4. "Attics of My Life" – 5:12
  5. "Truckin'" (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Hunter) – 5:03

2001 Rhino reissue[edit]

  1. "Truckin'" (Single Edit) (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Hunter) – 3:17
  2. "Friend of the Devil" (Live – May 15, 1970 at Fillmore East in New York City) (Garcia, Dawson, Hunter) – 4:21[a]
  3. "Candyman" (Live – April 15, 1970 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco) – 5:18[b]
  4. "Till the Morning Comes" (Live – October 4, 1970 at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco) – 3:20
  5. "Attics of My Life" (Live – June 6, 1970 at Fillmore West in San Francisco) – 6:31
  6. "Truckin'" (Live – December 26, 1970 at Legion Stadium in El Monte, California) (Garcia, Lesh, Weir, Hunter) – 10:10
  7. "Ripple" (Single Version) – 3:02
  8. American Beauty radio promo – 1:11

The final two tracks are unlisted. The "American Beauty Promo" is a radio commercial promoting the release of this album.

  1. ^ Later released with more selections from this date on Road Trips Volume 3 Number 3
  2. ^ Later released with entire concert performance on 30 Trips Around the Sun


Grateful Dead
Additional musicians
Reissue production credits
  • Reissue produced for release by James Austin, David Lemieux
  • Executive producer: Peter McQuaid
  • Associate producer, 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
  • Additional mixing: Jeffrey Norman
  • Mastering, production consultant: Joe Gastwirt
  • Product manager: Jimmy Edwards
  • Project coordination: Joe Motta
  • Discographical annotation: Gary Peterson
  • Liner notes coordination: Shawn Amos
  • Editorial supervision: Vanessa Atkins
  • Editorial research: Daniel Goldmark
  • Reissue art direction: Hugh Brown, Greg Allen, Rachel Gutek
  • Design: Rachel Gutek, Greg Allen


Year Chart Position
1971 Billboard 200 30[17]
Year Single Chart Position
1971 "Truckin'" Billboard Hot 100 64[18]


Certification Date
Gold[19] July 11, 1974
Platinum[19] October 13, 1986
Double Platinum[19] August 24, 2001

Release history[edit]

The album was released in a multitude of ways in the years since its original release.[12] In 2001, the CD version was remastered, expanded and was also part of the The Golden Road (1965–1973) 12-CD box set. This version included live and unreleased studio tracks. On October 24, 2004, it was released as a DualDisc recording, including a DVD side with interviews with Mickey Hart and Bob Weir, a photo gallery, and lyrics to all songs. Additionally in 2001 a standalone DVD-Audio version was released including a 5.1 Surround Sound mix. The album—including the re-release bonus tracks—is also available on the iTunes Store.

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United States 1970-11-01 Warner Bros. LP WS 1893
1978 Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFS-1-014
Worldwide 1987 Warner Bros. Compact Disc 1893-2
Cassette tape M5-1893
1990 LP 1893
United States 2001 Rhino DVD-Audio 74385
2003 CD 74397†
2004-10-24 Warner Bros./Rhino DualDisc 74385
2007 Grateful Dead CD 74794
Worldwide Rhino 1893
WEA/Rhino LP 8122736821

† Re-mastered edition with bonus tracks

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Allmusic Review
  2. ^ Grateful Dead album ratings at
  3. ^ Grateful Dead album ratings, Rolling Stone
  4. ^ American Beauty at Sputnikmusic
  5. ^ Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 196.
  6. ^ a b Garcia: An American Life by Blair Jackson, Penguin Books, 1999, p. 202.
  7. ^ Phil Lesh: Searching for the Sound by Phil Lesh, Little, Brown and Company, 2005, p. 190.
  8. ^ List of Grateful Dead singles on
  9. ^ Zwerling, Andy. American Beauty review from Rolling Stone, posted on Musical Stew Daily
  10. ^ Zwerling, Andy (December 24, 1970). "American Beauty | Album Reviews &#124". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  11. ^ Christgau, Robert. "Robert Christgau: CG: Grateful Dead". Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  12. ^ a b Ankeny, Jason. "American Beauty – Grateful Dead | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  13. ^ "2007 National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM) definitive 200 albums – All Time Top 200 Albums". 2008. Retrieved December 4, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Album Covers". Rate Your Music. November 14, 1991. Retrieved March 18, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Billboard 200 album chart position". Rovi Corporation/Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 singles chart position". Rovi Corporation/Billboard. Retrieved November 22, 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c "RIAA Gold & Platinum database-American Beauty". Retrieved February 28, 2009.