When Workingman's Dead was released, it was a 180 degree turn into Bluegrass. how could they make such a jarring change like that so quickly?

  • 2
    I don't know if you can say "180 degree turn". Maybe a 90 degree turn at best. The Dead have always been steeped in Country, I think if you find any article or interview about their origins it's pretty clear. Bluegrass is just another branch of Country. Jul 2, 2015 at 22:29
  • Not at all a 180 degree turn. (See Robert FInk's answer.) Jul 14, 2015 at 0:46
  • Bluegrass is not the right term. Country or Old Time or Acoustic would be more correct. Bluegrass is a unique technical speeded up branch of country music. If you like, bluegrass is to country as speed metal is to rock-n-roll.
    – Mike
    Jul 2, 2017 at 13:04

2 Answers 2


Jerry Garcia started off as a banjo player, and one part of the roots of the Dead were in a jug band called Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. So I would guess that Garcia knew his bluegrass pretty well even before the rock thing came along.


It was through hanging out with David Crosby and CS&N. Workingman's Dead isn't bluegrass, it's 'wooden music' based on songs with three and four part harmonies.

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