Legion Of Mary :: December 14-15, 1974 – Northwest Tour

As the popularity of the Grateful Dead grew in the early 1970's the band found themselves perpetual road dogs in an attempt to make up for lost ground after Mickey Hart's father, Lenny, absconded with $155,000 of the band's savings leaving the band financially in shambles. The Dead soon found themselves moving away from intimate theaters and halls to performing in large arenas and stadiums. With the added pressure of pleasing their amassing fanbase came the need to sound better in these larger spaces - a need which soon yielded the creation of the infamous Wall of Sound. The two separate 75-ton walls not only provided the band with a distortion free sound system, but also worked as its own monitoring system and came equipped with four semi-trailers and a 21 person crew. The endeavor was not only challenging logistically, but financially. It soon reached the point where the band could no longer earn enough to keep the behemoth afloat. So as 1974 came to a close the band quietly went on hiatus as Garcia slipped out the back door of the band's last show at Winterland to gig with a new set of musicians.

Garcia's desire to play music outside the context of the Grateful Dead began as early as 1969 with the creation of country-rock pioneers New Riders of the Purple Sage. Almost simultaneously, in the spring of 1970, he began to take part in loose jam sessions with organist Howard Wales at the San Francisco musician's clubhouse, The Matrix. Wales soon left the fold and was replaced by seasoned Bay Area jazz and R&B vet, Merl Saunders, who brought a funky repertoire to the table that paired well with various R&B and rock covers sung by Garcia. By early 1971 the group had an semi-official name - The Garcia-Saunders Group - and was rounded out with bassist John Kahn, drummer Bill Vitt and the later addition of tenor saxophonist Martin Fierro.

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