June 14, 1970


4.392 (average of 13 ratings)


psychedelic rock/ jam band



Album Tracks:

  1. Uncle John’s Band
  2. High Time
  3. Dire Wolf
  4. New Speedway Boogie
  5. Cumberland Blues
  6. Black Peter
  7. Easy Wind
  8. Casey Jones

Total Running Time:


Sales (in millions):




Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Uncle John’s Band (8/8/70) #69 US
  • Casey Jones (1970?) --
  • Dire Wolf * (5/2/81) #37 AR

* version from 1981 live album, Reckoning


An expanded edition was released in 2003 which included an alternate mix of “New Speedway Boogie” as well as live versions of “Dire Wolf”, “Black Peter”, “Easy Wind”, “Cumberland Blues”, “Mason’s Children”, and “Uncle John’s Band”.


Workingman’s Dead

Grateful Dead


“The Grateful Dead were already established as paragons of the free-form, improvisational San Francisco psychedelic sound when they abruptly shifted gears for the acoustic Workingman’s Dead, a lovely exploration of American roots music illuminating the group’s country, blues, and folk influences.” JA The sound of the album was influenced by the band’s friendship with Crosby, Stills & Nash. Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia said, “Hearing those guys sing and how nice they sounded together, we thought, ‘We can try that.’” WK

Drummer Mickey Hart further explained that “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.” WK

“The lilting Uncle John’s Band, their first radio hit, opens the record and perfectly summarizes its subtle, spare beauty; complete with a new focus on more concise songs and tighter arrangements, the approach works brilliantly.” JA That song as well as “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” WK previously.

“Despite its sharp contrast to the epic live space jams on which the group's legend primarily rests, Workingman’s Dead nonetheless spotlights the Dead at their most engaging, stripped of all excess to reveal the true essence of their craft.” JA

The album’s title came from a comment Garcia made to lyricist Robert Hunter that “this album was turning into the Workingman's Dead version of the band.” WK Hunter’s contributions to the album and its sound earned him a spot on the cover as the seventh band member. WK

Review Source(s):

Related DMDB Link(s):

Uncle John’s Band (live video)

Dire Wolf (live video from The Tom Snyder Show in 1981)

Casey Jones (live video)

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Last updated August 1, 2011.