May 15, 2011

Ned Lagin

This will be my shortest post ever!

For folks who are curious about Ned Lagin's involvement with the Dead, I was in a lengthy discussion about that over on this site -
- which I've decided not to repeat here.

The best source for Lagin's Dead activities is his interview in the book Conversations with the Dead, where he talks about his '74 shows in great detail.
If you don't have that handy, there's also a shorter interview with David Gans covering Lagin's history:

The definitive list of Ned Lagin's performances with the Dead has been written:

This site has been rather quiet lately, due to one thing & another getting in the way - but I hope to have another post ready by the end of the month.


  1. I've always wondered what kind of relationship Ned had with Keith,I can't recall ever reading anything about their interaction.I'm hard pressed to remember any of the band members outside of Phil commenting on Ned at all.I believe in a couple of the Jerry books there is a comment here and there,but nothing substantial.

  2. I don't recall anyone in the band besides Phil ever mentioning Ned either - almost like he was never there! (or they were never asked) - though clearly Garcia was happy to have him as another player.
    From Ned's conversations with David Gans, it's obvious Garcia really liked playing with Ned - doing things backstage, at home & in the studio, asking him to play more in the Dead's sets, appearing at Ned's "solo" shows.

    Keith is another matter. Since he was almost never interviewed, we don't know much about how he felt about anything. Ned made a couple interesting comments about him, though.
    Ned said of the 7/21/74 show, "That was another LSD night for almost everybody; it probably wasn't for Keith. Keith was resistive to that energy."
    But on 9/11/74, "It was generally agreed that we would all take LSD, to recoup the good old Grateful Dead. Keith was dosed, as part of the forming of a revised pirate brotherhood. He had a stomach problem, and I'm told that someone put LSD in the stomach medicine that he kept on the piano."
    And on 9/21/74, after the long full-band Seastones set, "the long jam evolved into Playing in the Band, and Keith came out briefly to play during the singing, and then left for the entire jam on Playing in the Band. Keith was just resisting the idea that he would come out and join in. After quite a long time playing some truly wonderful things, we got back close to the tune and Jerry turned and said under his voice, 'Where's Keith?' And Keith wasn't at his piano, and then Phil said, 'Where's Keith?' ...And we started playing the end of the tune; eight bars into it, Keith slid out to the piano. Jerry and Phil were pretty upset with Jerry told me to stay where I was and play the rest of the night."
    Later on 6/17/75, Ned was preparing to play, and "Jerry said, 'Set up over on the other side next to Keith'... I started to move my setup. Keith looked very sour at me and at Jerry. After I'd set up on the other side, Jerry changed his mind and said, 'No, come back and set up next to me'... I just said, 'I've had enough,' and I just went home." So Ned didn't play at that show.

    All together, these comments hint that the Keith-Ned relationship was not too good! Come to think of it, I'm not sure any of the early '75 studio sessions have both Keith & Ned on keyboards, though I could be mistaken.

    Keith doesn't seem to have been too welcoming, though I should say that he was still the "new guy," and in '74-75 it must have looked like this other player (who'd played with the Dead before Keith did & was probably on closer terms with Jerry & Phil) was gradually taking over the keyboard role. Naturally Keith might have felt insecure.

    Seeing this short post again, I think I should add at least a simple list of all Ned's Dead shows; that would be useful.

  3. All things considered it's understandable where Keith might have been less than pleased with Ned's presence.I will have to go back and listen to their musical interactions to hear that chemistry.In listening to the 7/21/74 Playin' in the Band it's quite possible that Ned is the sole keyboardist on the Fender Rhodes,there is no discernible grand piano.When they go into Wharf Rat you once again hear the acoustic piano.It is a magnificent Playin' where it takes off right after the vocal and does not let up for the duration.

    It would be nice to have a proper list of Ned's appearances and possibly what songs he performed on at the show.It might also be noted as to whether or not Ned could actually be heard on the tape for as you know at a number of shows he could only be heard in the audience.There is a list of about 14 shows between 11/21/70 and 3/5/72 in that wonderful lost live dead piece where you add some insight in the comments section.I'm not sure if that is a complete list up until that time and I don't recall him appearing with the band between March '72 and his summer appearances in '74.

  4. I added a link to Nedbase, the new invaluable listing of all the known times Ned Lagin played with the Dead.
    While I'd been intending for some time to compile a performance list myself, Ihor did a much better job than I could have!

  5. Ned has shared a non-circulating 26-minute soundcheck jam with the Dead - see the 9/18/74 Dijon entry at
    No audience, so it's not as "serious" as a live show - it starts out with just Phil & Ned (sounding a lot like an '80s videogame), but gradually other Dead members drift in and it gets spacy. Much of it is an odd duet between Ned & Jerry.

    Speaking of '74, one frequent question people have is whether Ned played on the 6/16/74 Des Moines Playing in the Band... The nedbase site conclusively shows that it was Keith (who was unusually adventurous that day) - Ned wasn't there.

    By the way, I mentioned in an old comment above not being sure if Ned & Keith both played keyboards together in the '75 studio sessions, which was mistaken - Ned played in the Dead's rehearsals regularly from Feb-June '75, and if he hadn't split from the Dead at that point, it seems very likely he would've been on the Blues for Allah album as well.

  6. ned has released a new, remastered, 2 CD 'seastones'. it is available through the store at his web site. you can read the album notes here

    p.s. it is great!

    p.p.s. it is a limited edition. if you are going to get it, get it soon.

    1. > p.p.s. it is a limited edition. if you are going to get it, get it soon.

      oops - it is not a 'limited edition'. it is a fantastic album!

  7. A recent doctoral dissertation has a lengthy chapter on Ned Lagin and his work with the Dead, with many new details from interviews: (Melvin Backstrom, The Grateful Dead and Their World: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde in the San Francisco Bay Area 1965-1975)