Grateful Dead have released a previously unheard recording of their song “St. Stephen” off of their 1969 album Aoxomoxoa, the recording from a show at the Fillmore West in San Francisco on August 21, 1968. The song was teased on Rolling Stone along with an excerpt from the band’s upcoming graphic novel, Grateful Dead Origins, which will be released on August, 4. The graphic novel will detail Grateful Dead’s formation and beginnings, including their adventures with Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady.
The recording of “St. Stephen” had been the band’s first performance of the song on the West Coast, Grateful Dead’s classic jamming sound and Jerry Garcia’s slightly rough and quiet voice describing the trippy story of St. Stephen. The recording throws listeners back to 1968, sitting shortly after the height of the psychedelic movement in San Francisco. The concert also had the first known performance of “William Tell Bridge.” David Glasser mastered the recording at a studio in Boulder, CO.
The graphic novel will be available through Z2 Comics, and with a deluxe edition selling for $99 with an accompanying vinyl from their performance at Fillmore West. The standard edition sells for $19.99, without the vinyl and art prints. Written by Chris Miskiewicz and illustrated by Noah Van Sciver, the graphic novel will show how Grateful Dead went from playing small bars under the moniker, the Warlocks, throughout the United States to becoming one of the most well-known bands in American history. The vinyl will also include recordings of “Dark Star,” “The Eleven” and “Death Don’t Have No Mercy.” Only 6,800 copies of the graphic novel will be published.
The graphic novel will be discussed at the virtual Comic Con on July 23 at 3 p.m. P.S.T. via Comic Con’s official YouTube channel. Miskiewicz and Van Sciver will be detailing how the graphic novel came to be, working with Grateful Dead’s archivist and legacy manager David Lemieux. The Dead also released a reissue of their 1970 album Workingman’s Dead on Friday for the album’s 50th anniversary.
Grateful Dead formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, CA, blending rock, folk, country, bluegrass and countless other genres. They helped to pioneer jam bands and the psychedelic counter culture of the 1960s, and were made up of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann, Mickey Heart and Robert Hunter. The group changed their name from the Warlocks after learning the Velvet Underground had released a record under under the same name. The Dead found popularity after meeting Kesey and Cassady, performing at some of Kesey’s Acid Tests. The group joined Kesey and Cassady in driving across the United States and introducing the country to LSD.
Live at the Fillmore West, August 1968 tracklist:
1. “Dark Star”
2. “St. Stephen”
3. “The Eleven”
4. “Death Don’t Have No Mercy”