Playing in the Band

"Playing in the Band" is a Grateful Dead song. The lyrics were written by Robert Hunter and rhythm guitarist Bob Weir composed the music, with some assistance from percussionist Mickey Hart.[1] The song first emerged in embryonic form on the self-titled 1971 live album Grateful Dead. It then appeared in a more polished form on Ace, Bob Weir's first solo album (which included every Grateful Dead member except Ron "Pigpen" McKernan).

"Playing in the Band"
Song by Grateful Dead
from the album Grateful Dead
ReleasedOctober 1971 (1971-10)
RecordedApril 6, 1971
VenueHammerstein Ballroom, New York City
LabelWarner Bros.
Composer(s)Bob Weir
Lyricist(s)Robert Hunter
Producer(s)Grateful Dead

It has since become one of the best-known Grateful Dead numbers and a standard part of their repertoire. According to Deadbase X, it ranks fourth on the list of songs played most often in concert by the band with 581 performances.[2][page needed]


The instrumental break of "Playing in the Band" was introduced as early as the February 19, 1969 "Celestial Synapse" show at the Fillmore West, in which it appears somewhat indistinct from the preceding and following jams.[3] The completed song debuted (along with five others) on February 18, 1971 at the Capitol Theatre.[4] It was also included on Mickey Hart's 1972 solo album Rolling Thunder within "The Main Ten", making reference to the song's time signature of 10/4. "The Main Ten" appears on Dick's Picks Vol. 16, from their performance at the Fillmore West on November 8, 1969. On that set, it appears in the middle of "Caution (Do Not Stop on the Tracks)".


  1. ^ Richardson, P. (2015). No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead. St. Martin's Press. p. 189. ISBN 978-1-250-02133-5. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  2. ^ Scott, John W.; Mike Dolgushkin; Stu Nixon (1997). Deadbase X: The Complete Guide to Grateful Dead Song Lists. Cornish, N.H.: Deadbase. ISBN 9781877657207. OCLC 39303081.
  3. ^ "Grateful Dead at the Fillmore West, February 19, 1969 (mislabeled)".
  4. ^ "Grateful Dead at the Capitol Theater, February 18, 1971".

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