Jerry Garcia’s First Known Studio Recording: The Hart Valley Drifters “Roving Gambler”

October 6, 2016

Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, David Nelson- credit  Jerald Melrose.

On November 11, Round Records/ATO Records will release the earliest known studio recording by Jerry Garcia. Folk Time captures Garcia and his folk/bluegrass quintet The Hart Valley Drifters at Stanford University’s KZSU studio in late 1962. The group, which appeared on the station’s Folk Time program (thus the name of the album) finds the 20-year old Garcia contributing lead vocals, banjo and guitar alongside two familiar faces: future songwriting partner Robert Hunter on bass, and David Nelson, who would later co-found the New Riders of the Purple Sage with Garcia, on guitar.  The Hart Valley Drifters also featured Ken Frankel (banjo, fiddle and guitar) and Norm Van Maastricht on dobro. Their KZSU set included takes on such songs as “Cripple Creek, ” “Pig In A Pen,” and “Nine Pound Hammer” as well as  “Sitting On Top Of The World,” later covered by the Grateful Dead on their self-titled debut record (and performed live by the group infrequently from 1966-1972).

Today we share the premiere of the traditional “Roving Gambler” from the album, which is available for pre-order at The track listing appears below the audio.

Hart Valley Drifters – Folk Time

1. Band Introductions

2. “Roving Gambler”

3. “Ground Speed”
(Earl Scruggs)

4. “Pig In A Pen”
(Fiddlin’ Arthur Smith [traditional] arr. by J. Garcia)

5. “Standing In The Need Of Prayer”

6. “Flint Hill Special”
(Earl Scruggs)

7. “Nine Pound Hammer”

8. “Handsome Molly”
(G.B. Grayson/Henry Whitter)

9. “Clinch Mountain Backstep”
(Ralph Stanley/Ruby Rakes)

10. “Think of What You’ve Done”
(Carter Stanley)

11. “Cripple Creek”

12. “All The Good Times Have Past And Gone”

13. “Billy Grimes, The Rover”

14. “Paddy On The Turnpike (Boys, My Money’s All Gone)”

15. “Run Mountain”
(J.E. Mainer)

16. “Sugar Baby”
(Moran Dock Boggs)

17. “Sitting On Top Of The World”
(Walter Jacobs Vinson/Lonnie Carter)