Black History: Interview with Melvin Seals of the Jerry Garcia Band (Repost)

Preserving the Dead: Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia (Aug 1, 1942 – Aug 9, 1995)

You may be familiar with the Grateful Dead but you might not be as familiar with the Jerry Garcia Band, formed in 1975 by Jerry Garcia. One of the original members of the JGB is organist Melvin Seals, who continues to preserve the dead and tour with the JGB “Keepers of the Flame”.

Kane, Peter, “Jerry Garcia Band, ca. 1982: Jaclyn LaBranch, Melvin Seals, Dee Dee Dickerson, Greg Errico, Jerry Garcia, John Kahn,” Grateful Dead Archive Online, accessed February 2, 2013,

To celebrate Black History Month, I’ve provided an excerpt from an interview I had with Melvin, originally published on the Tri State Indie Music Magazine site for which I write. You can see the full interview here.

TSI: How did you meet Jerry Garcia? Can you tell how you came to join the JGB in 1980?

MS: I met Jerry through John Kahn, who played bass for Jerry at that time. John heard me through Maria Muldaur and asked me would I be willing to play in another band he was in, and asked me to a rehearsal where I met Jerry. He liked my work and the rest is history.

TSI: Are there any songs that make you cry, laugh, or get angry when you play them or hear them played?

MS: ”Forever Young” has brought tears to my eyes. Also “I’ll Be with Thee”. The lyrics are very touching.

TSI: Can you talk about any traditions that you keep (or have broken) with the JGB?

MS: The most important tradition is keeping the same look and likeness of the original band: 2 background singers, bass player , drum, guitar, and keyboard. I also try not to change the material.

Read more here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s