Writers: Jerry Garcia, Robert Hunter, and John Dawson
Producers: The Grateful Dead and Steve Barncard
Recorded: September 1970 at Wally Heider Recording Studios in San Francisco
Released: November 1970
|Players:||Jerry Garcia — vocals, guitar, pedal steel
Bob Weir — guitar, vocals
Phil Lesh — bass, vocals
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan — keyboards, vocals
Bill Kreutzmann — drums
Mickey Hart — drums
David Grisman — mandolin
|Album:||American Beauty (Warner Bros., 1970)|
A gentle, acoustic-flavored track, “Friend Of The Devil” is one of the most enduring and frequently covered songs in the Grateful Dead canon.
Like much of the American Beauty album, it was recorded quickly and with little outside interference. Engineer and coproducer Steve Barncard credited the fact that many of the Dead's crew and hangers-on were on the road with the Medicine Ball Caravan tour, leaving the group free to work unencumbered by others' opinions.
Singer-guitarist Jerry Garcia invited mandolinist David Grisman to play on the track when Grisman, who was in town visiting from the East Coast, came to a softball game between the Dead and the Jefferson Airplane. Grisman recalled, “Jerry said, 'Hey, we're making a record. I've got some songs that would be perfect for you.'” In addition to “Friend Of The Devil,” Grisman also played on “Ripple.”
The group members' outside lives touched “Friend Of The Devil” and American Beauty's other songs. Garcia's mother was dying, as was bassist Phil Lesh's father. Singer-guitarist Bob Weir had lost both his parents, and keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan was in ill health. Weir noted, “We were starting to have more adult considerations to think about when we were writing songs.”
American Beauty reached Number 30 on the Billboard 200, the group's second highest-charting album to that point.
The album was certified double platinum.