Howard Wales, the musician Jerry Garcia described as his favorite collaborator, passed away yesterday at age 77, his family confirmed.
The keyboardist failed to audition for the Grateful Dead in 1970 because his approach did not match that of the group. It appeared on his album American Beauty that same year, and Garcia himself maintained the relationship.
“Howard was so amazing, and we were putting up with our life,” Garcia said in the book Garcia: An American Life. “For some reason Howard enjoyed playing with us, but we were just keeping up. Howard was so out there. It was a wonderful experience for both of us. … Playing with Howard did more for my ears than anyone I’ve ever played with because it was so extensive and so different. His focus was all extensions and very keyboardist, not guitarist. “
The couple met when Wales hosted an improv night at The Matrix in San Francisco. Before that, she worked alongside renowned artists such as James Brown, Freddie King, Four Tops, and others. His last album was released in 2018, but is it best remembered for the 1970 studio LP Hooteroll? and 1998’s Side Trips Live, Volume One, which was recorded in 1970. Both albums were released under the banner of Howard Wales and Jerry Garcia.
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