Howard Wales, Longtime Jerry Garcia Collaborator, Dead At 77

Howard Wales, Longtime Jerry Garcia Collaborator, Dead At 77 | I Love Classic Rock Videos

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Howard Wales, known for his work with Jerry Garcia, has died at the age of 77 according to his family.

Wales was a keyboardist who auditioned for the Grateful Dead but didn’t make it due to the difference in their styles, but he has appeared on the American Beauty album, while Garcia remained to be in contact with him for the years that followed.

In the book Garcia: An American Life, the Dead frontman was quoted saying: “Howard was so incredible, and we were just hanging on for dear life. For some reason, Howard enjoyed playing with us, but we were just keeping up. Howard was so outside. For both of us that was a wonderful experience. … Playing with Howard did more for my ears than anybody I ever played with because he was so extended and so different. His approach was all extensions and very keyboardistic, not guitaristic.”

The two met at a jam night in San Francisco’s The Matrix, but Wales already had the experience with him having worked with names like James Brown and Freddie King, among others. He is best remembered for the album Hooteroll? in 1970 and the 1998 live record Side Trips, Volume One, all released under the Wales and Garcia banner.

Bassist John Kahn said: “I didn’t know what kind of music would be playing down at the Matrix when I went down. And I still don’t know! It was kind of a weird jazz with these other influences – it was mainly Howard’s music, all instrumental.”

“We were doing acid jazz when nobody was. We were doing stuff that was completely different,” said Wales in a 2017 interview.

He looked back on his career and said: “I went on the road when I was 18. … I played with fake IDs and things like that. I was in a group – believe it or not – that had green hair with space suits. … The thing about music with me is that I’ve got a whole swath of all kinds of stuff from these really ‘Why did you do that?’ kind of things to incredible stuff. I think that in today’s world you don’t really see that anymore. … I would say this about the old days: It was a hell of a lot more about love than now. You don’t find too much of the love aspect here. It’s really terrible.”