David Crosby Says Performing With Grateful Dead Was Unsuccessful

CSNY icon David Crosby spoke to Steve Silberman’s Freak Frag Flying and opened up about playing with Grateful Dead in live shows. Crosby admitted that it was very hard to adapt to the band and he felt that he wasn’t good enough to do that.

As you may know, Grateful Dead is considered one of the pioneer bands for psychedelic rock, and they combined different genres such as folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and rock while they were writing and composing their iconic songs. The band also took place in Rolling Stone’s The Greatest Artists of All Time and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

Therefore, Grateful Dead continued to mix various musical approaches and techniques with each other and they gained great appreciation thanks to their extraordinary and unique style. Moreover, the harmony between Grateful Dead members especially during their concerts contributed a lot to their success and popularity. However, playing with them became a challenging task for the other musicians.

David Crosby, who is a musician that teamed up with both Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia for different projects and live performances, confirmed that even the best musicians found it very hard to play with a harmonious band like Grateful Dead. He defined their collaborations as unsuccessful experiences by praising the band’s complex and fearless style.

In Crosby’s words, he said:

Unsuccessful. The dead are a lot deeper pool than you realize. They have chemistry, those specific guys have chemistry. It is deep, long-standing, extremely complex and it has a more variable style. It’s fearless and you can’t just step into it.

You can play with them but you should be as good as the people who successfully did it, Winsbury and Cranford… We’re talking about the guys at the very top of being able to play. Even they had to learn chemistry. I tried just sitting with them. I couldn’t and you have to learn how to fit in.”

David Crosby emphasized that both himself and the other talented musicians had to work hard to learn Grateful Dead members’ chemistry. Apparently, he still thinks that he failed to achieve it even though he has been one of the best singers and instrumentalists in the world.