Jefferson AirplaneInitial release : February 1967
RCA LPM / LSP-3766
The second Jefferson Airplane LP. Garcia's contribution to this album was significant but is not easy to detail exactly. He definitely played on two tracks and probably on two others. He possibly helped arrange at least one other song and helped out in the studio in other ways. But he is credited only as 'musical and spiritual adviser'. An expanded CD version of Surrealistic Pillow, with bonus tracks, was released in 2003.
Jefferson Airplane members;
Musicians on Today (from Jefferson Aiplane Loves You booklet);
The recording sessions for Surrealistic Pillow started in early November 1966 just over two weeks after Grace Slick had made her first appearance with the band on October 16, 1966.
Garcia's contribution to Surrealistic Pillow is not easy to define exactly. The album was recorded in Los Angeles. Jefferson Airplane and Garcia were based in San Francisco. The band flew back and forth between the two cities throughout November 1966 and it seems that Garcia flew with them whenever available.
His playing contribution is partly documented.
He was definitely present on Wednesday November 2 playing lead guitar on Today.
He was present on an unspecified date for the recording of Comin' Back To Me. According to Marty Balin who wrote the song one night in his LA motel room during the period of the recording sessions...
"Then I went back to the studio - 'cause we used to stay up all night - and the engineer, Grace, Jack and Garcia were still there. So I said, 'I'd like to record this please'."It was rehearsed a couple of times and then recorded in one take.
He was present during, and played on, the recording of two songs that didn't make the final album but were subsequently released in 1974 on Early Flight; J.P.P. McStep B. Blues (Monday, November 14) and In The Morning (Monday, November 21).
Some sources suggest that Garcia was also played on Plastic Fantastic Lover and My Best Friend. To date this remains speculation - any information about documented sources describing other Garcia involvement on this album would be most welcome.
Garcia's non-playing role ("musical and spiritual adviser") can be assumed from statements made by members of Jefferson Airplane.
According to Jorma Kaukonen;
"Jerry could be credited with really being the producer in the real sense of the word in that he was one of us and he knew what to do with the band .... He really was the producer who arranged those songs..."Paul Kantner in an interview with Dark Star magazine in the late 1970s said;
"We had an RCA producer, but Garcia did the art side of it."Garcia on the other hand downplayed his role, defining it at one time as;
"... a sort of go-between between them and their producer, I helped out with some arrangements and stuff - I just hung out."On the Surrealistic Pillow cover though Garcia is credited as their "musical and spiritual adviser". No other credit was possible as prior to the release of the LP the Grateful Dead had signed with Warner Brothers.
Most versions of the 'how the album got it's title' story indicate that it was Garcia who suggested at one point that it was "as surrealistic as a pillow". The quote has though been attributed to others.
The album reached third position in Billboard's album charts and was the sixth best selling LP of 1967 in the US.
Those wishing to delve more deeply into international reissues of Surrealistic Pillow and related material, should attempt to find a copy of issue 211 (March 1997) of the UK magazine Record Collector which features an excellent article about the album including illustrations of many album/singles sleeves and a discography.
Tracks from Surrealistic Pillow were used on the following singles released in the US;
Both the mono and stereo versions of the album were included in the box set;
White Rabbit and Somebody To Love have been included on numerous various artists compilations.
Today was included on;
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