Al Feldstein, RIP

(Al at the Hollywood Bowl July 21, 1974.)

 

I just got a call from my old bandmate, Bob Nakamine, informing me that our old bandmate Al Feldstein died of a heart attack yesterday (6/21/09).

 

When I moved to Berkeley in 1973, my high school classmate Ernie was just dropping out and moving back to San Jose. He told me to look up his buddies on Etna Street - "They play Grateful Dead music!" he said. And play Grateful Dead music we did, starting in the second-floor living room of that house and off and on for the next 30+ years.

 

The first Grateful Dead tape I ever heard was at Al's apartment in Oakland - the 3/23/74 Cow Palace show, a couple of weeks after it happened. I had no idea such a thing existed before then.

 

He was a solid rhythm guitar player and a half-decent singer. He brought a handful of songs to our band, a couple of which I continued to perform myself after we stopped playing together regularly. He was cranky and opinionated and a thoroughly decent man.

 

Coincidentally, I recently transferred some recordings from the early '80s. The first three are Al's songs, and the last is of course a Johnny Cash song we took from the Dead. Mostly our band was called The Reptiles, but for some reason we tried being The Undecided for a few weeks in early 1981; that's the band on these four.

 

Dust Bowl 2/15/81

 

Night Crawl 2/15/81

 

Watchin' for the Bear 2/8/81

 

Big River 2/1/81

 

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Taken on July 21, 1974