Grateful Dead: Playing in the Band
How often does the album cover art give an album its name? This one came out as simply Grateful Dead in 1971. But the band’s debut album from four years earlier was also called Grateful Dead. The title Live Dead was also already in use. So, over the years, this one has come to be known as Skull and Roses. I put that in parentheses above, because it is not the official title of the album. The skeleton was actually drawn for something else entirely, a 1913 edition of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, That illustration was by Edmund Joseph Sullivan. Alton Kelly and Stanley Mouse added the lettering and color, to create the image seen above. The skeleton with roses became a visual motif that was identified with the Grateful Dead for the next 25 years. Playing in the Band is the song I always hear in my head when I think of this album. The singer on this one was Bob Weir.