Moby Grape stormed onto the San Francisco scene in 1967 with their self-titled debut album.
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 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.
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Art Thompson is Senior Editor of Guitar Player magazine. He has authored stories with numerous guitar greats including B.B. King, Prince and Scotty Moore and interviewed gear innovators such as Paul Reed Smith, Randall Smith and Gary Kramer. He also wrote the first book on vintage effects pedals, Stompbox. Art's busy performance schedule with three stylistically diverse groups provides ample opportunity to test-drive new guitars, amps and effects, many of which are featured in the pages of GP.
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