Dark Star Orchestra has announced that bassist Skip Vangelas will perform with Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s iconic “Mission Control” bass during a pair of upcoming shows in California.
Vangelas will play Lesh’s bass, which was an integral component of the band’s legendary Wall of Sound PA system, on February 21st at the House of Blues in San Diego, CA and at The Wiltern in Los Angeles on February 22nd. This announcement also comes on the heels of the recent news that DSO guitarist Jeff Mattson will perform with two of Jerry Garcia‘s guitars, including his “Alligator” Fender Stratocaster, during the band’s two-night run at The Warfield in San Francisco this week.
Rick Turner built “Mission Control” at Alembic in 1973 when the Dead were constructing the ill-fated Wall of Sound. Lesh played “Mission Control” on stage from 1974 until 1979, long after the Wall was shelved following the Dead’s hiatus beginning in October 1974. Lesh finally put the guitar away for good in 1980 when it was gutted for pickups and parts and lost for 40 years, but now it’s back and restored to its former glory thanks to the guitar’s current owner Jason Scheuner.
We are thrilled to be the new custodian of the most significant bass guitar in Rock n Roll History! The Rick Turner/Alembic/Phil Lesh “Mission Control” bass, aka “Osage Orange”, aka “The Omega”. It was important to us that it go to a Deadhead, it has and now can be shared with the world. Dark Star Orchestra was the obvious choice to debut the stage return of this historic instrument, and will be played by DSO bassist Skip Vangelas. Rick Turner will be flying down to San Diego to complete the final step of the restoration before the first show. The neck and bridge pickups removed some 40 years ago have now been found and recovered (from Fred Hammon of Dark Star Pickups) and will be installed to complete the restoration of this historic instrument.
Rick Turner, the instrument’s creator and now restorationist, said,
Ahhh, the return of the prodigal bass! ‘Mission Control’ is likely the ultimate four string electric bass as a combination of lutherie and electronics. She disappeared decades ago having been frightfully abused, but she lives again! I’m so happy to have been the luthier who built her and to be participating in the restoration to stage ready. I can’t wait to hear her in her full glory with Dark Star Orchestra in San Diego & Los Angeles next week!”
Watch Lesh soundcheck “Mission Control” ahead of one of The Dead’s farewell concerts at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco in October of 1974. The clip comes from The Grateful Dead Movie and captures Lesh in a moment of pure audiophile bliss.
The Grateful Dead Movie – “The Wall Of Sound”
DSO will close out their winter tour with the shows on February 21st and 22nd. The first leg of the band’s spring tour begins on March 27th at The Ritz in Raleigh, NC. For tickets and a full list of dates, head to the band’s website.