With the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia was know for his thrilling New Year’s Eve performances, but on December 31st, 1975, he played his only such gig without them, doing three sets at the small Keystone Berkeley club. Of course, Garcia wasn’t exactly alone: That night, his band included John Kahn on bass, Sly and the Family Stone‘s Greg Errico on drums and famed rock pianist Nicky Hopkins on keys, and Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Kingfish’s Matthew Kelly all made surprise cameos.
Next week, the show will be released as the fifth volume of the ongoing “GarciaLive” series, and below, you can hear an advance stream of one of its most spectacular songs, a set-closing take on Junior Walker’s “(I’m a) Road Runner” that features all three of the special guests.
“I remember being pleasantly surprised that evening with Nicky Hopkins showing up to play with us,” Errico tells Rolling Stone. I didn’t know he was coming! [Jerry’s guitar playing had] a very distinct voice. He had a very big sound – custom Fender amps all reworked – so when he wanted to give it the gas, you heard him. And when you heard a note, you knew it was Jerry before the phrase was finished.”
GarciaLive Volume 5 (as well as volumes one through four) can be pre-ordered here.