Moby Grape stormed onto the San Francisco scene in 1967 with their self-titled debut album (opens in new tab).
That it happened at all was thanks to Columbia Records’ unprecedented promotion, the triple-electric guitar lineup of Peter Lewis, Skip Spence and Jerry Miller (who still plays the Gibson L-5 (opens in new tab) jazz guitar nicknamed Buelah that he purchased in 1966), and the fact that all five members wrote superbly crafted songs.
As experienced players, they had great groove and harmonious vocals that helped establish them as one of the pre-eminent psychedelic bands of the ’60s with songs such as “Can’t Be So Bad,” “8:05” and “Come in the Morning.”
It’s impossible not to still be knocked out by Spence’s “Omaha,” with its furious guitar assault that helped propel it to number 95 in Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time.
“I always thought the world of Moby Grape,” said Sam Andrew, guitarist and founding member of Big Brother and the Holding Company.
“They were guys who’d obviously been in clubs every night since the mid ’50s. It’s amazing what they came up with.
"Skip Spence and [bass player] Bob Mosley brought the psychedelic edge to that band, and they had a lot going.”
In this film clip from 1967’s historic Monterey International Pop Festival, Moby Grape give a storming rendition of “Hey Grandma” – the opening track from their psychedelic masterpiece debut album.
Just days earlier, “Hey Grandma” was released as a single in a bold marketing move by Columbia Records that involved the simultaneous release of four other singles from Moby Grape’s LP (ten of the album’s thirteen songs in total, including B-sides!)
Following a warm, albeit slightly awkward, introduction by comedian Tom Smothers, “Columbia recording artists Moby Grape” hit the stage, opening up the second evening of this storied three-day Summer of Love festival.
Browse the Moby Grape catalog here (opens in new tab).
The Pick Newsletter
Get the latest news, reviews and product advice straight to your inbox.
Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar World (opens in new tab), Guitar Player (opens in new tab) and MusicRadar (opens in new tab) in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.
Thank you for signing up to The Pick. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.