The Grateful Dead Covering Black Artists


syf reversedI have hosted a Grateful Dead program, Unbroken Chain, on KBOO Radio since the late 1990s (monthly, 3rd Sat @ Noon PDT). I often play music from a show or three, close in date to my live radio broadcast date. But I’ve also produced several series of themed programs to draw focus to various aspects of their repertoire.

Each February KBOO celebrates Black History Month on air with relevant programming. In 2012, my broadcast week that month was also during an on-air fund raising drive. Wanting to combine all these elements into my show, I decided to find the songs covered by The Grateful Dead that were written and/or first recorded by black artists.

Many of you will recognize the artists Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Muddy Waters and Otis Redding, as well as songs like Dancing in the Street, In the Midnight Hour, Turn on Your Lovelight and Johnny B. Goode. But I have many more obscure songs (Jock-A-Mo, If I Had My Way) and artists (Lemme B. Good, Noah Lewis, James ‘Sugar Boy’ Crawford and Blind Lemon Jefferson) included. The Dead played some of the songs in this special just once, others hundreds of times.

Each show features the original of each song followed by a representative cover version by the Grateful Dead. Sometimes I play more than more than one of each, listen to find out which songs and why. Now you can listen to all four available broadcasts (2 parts each).

February 2012 – Dancing in the Street, Big Boy Pete, Beat It On Down the Line, Hey Pocky Way, Sick and Tired, If I Had My Way / Samson and Delilah, It Hurts Me Too, Good Lovin’, Big Railroad Blues, Let It Rock, Wang Dang Doodle, It’s A Sin, Ruler of My Heart / Pain in My Heart, Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu, Jock-A-Mo / Iko Iko

February 2012 Part 1 of 2 (download)

February 2012 Part 2 of 2 (download)

March 2012 – Hard to Handle, Death Letter Blues, I Just Want to Make Love to You, Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing, It’s All Over Now, Nobody’s Fault But Mine, Run Rudolph Run, Monkey and the Engineer, Viola Lee Blues, Big Boss Man

March 2012 Part 1 of 2 (download)

March 2012 Part 2 of 2 (download)

August 2012 – In the Midnight Hour, On the Road Again, Ain’t It Crazy (The Rub), Devil with A Blue Dress, Good Golly Miss Molly, Are You Lonely for Me Baby, I’m A Hog for You Baby, New Orleans, Searchin’, Death Don’t Have No Mercy, Man Smart, Women Smarter, Around and Around

August 2012 Part 1 of 2 (download)

August 2012 Part 2 of 2 (download)

January 2015 – Next Time You See Me, Don’t Ease Me In, Walking the Dog, The Same Thing, I Ain’t Superstitious, Meet Me Down in the Bottom, Got My Mojo Working, Overseas Stomp (Lindbergh Hop or Lindy), Hi-Heel Sneakers, Turn on Your Lovelight

January 2015 Part 1 of 2 (download)

January 2015 Part 2 of 2 (download)

I hope you’ll hear and learn something new by listening – I sure did while producing it all.

There will be a part 5 and possibly 6. I will post those episodes after their live broadcast..

These excellent websites provided invaluable assistance in my production efforts:

Deadlists | Deadbase | GD Lyric & Song Finder | Live Music Archive
Dead Disc | Etree | Allmusic | Youtube

My working song list (red = already played). This 8-page PDF has more details. Enjoy!

full song list

One thought on “The Grateful Dead Covering Black Artists

  1. Great stuff! If I’m not mistaken, Muddy Waters picked up “Got My Mojo Working ” from Ann Cole, during a period of time where she was opening for him.

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