The early 1970s were a very formative time for the Grateful Dead, both collectively and individually.

The band started the decade with the release of their fan-favorite studio albums in 1970’s Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty, yet band members also made time to pursue solo endeavors. Bob Weir and Mickey Hart both released solo albums in 1972, as did Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, who celebrated the arrival of his own solo debut, Garcia, on January 20th, 1972.

As pure of an individual effort as anyone has ever put into their own solo album—save the help of drummer/bandmate Bill KreutzmannGarcia gave the guitarist ample opportunity to take a step back from the madness of Dead’s live shows to go into the studio, have some fun on pedal steel guitar, and focus on “the song” as a finite entity.

While the tracklisting for Garica does include a number of Dead live staples that had already been in the rotation since ’71 including “Sugaree”, “Bird Song”, “Deal”, and “Loser”, there was still enough weirdness included on Garcia to intensify the appetite of any Deadhead looking for a little space odyssey—see “Late For Supper” and “An Odd Little Place”.

Garcia, more or less, is a synthesis of Jerry’s tastes and sensibilities as an ambassador to American roots music. The album as a whole is still a wonderfully muddy mix of folk, country, blues, jazz, and acid rock, and certainly speaks for the Garcia fans who like to color in between the lines.

As Garcia celebrates 51 years to the day since its 1972 release, revisit the album in its entirety below:

Jerry Garcia – Garcia [Full Album]

[Video: Token Jackson]

[Originally published 1/20/22]