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Peter Lewis
guitar, vocals
  Jerry Miller
lead guitar, vocals
  Bob Mosley
bass, vocals
  Skip Spence
guitar, vocals
  Don Stevenson

The Story of Moby Grape

Skip Spence, a budding singer-songwriter, was recruited by the Jefferson Airplane to play drums (!) in their original lineup. He cut one record with them and quit in mid-1966, at which point he and the Airplane's manager hatched a scheme of forming a new band in the same mold. Like the Airplane, Byrds, and Buffalo Springfield, the new group was to be a harmonizing alliance of singer-songwriters with a fan following of rebellious teenage girls. And like those groups, Moby Grape was to go within just a few months from initial rehearsals to full-blown recording sessions.

The plan almost worked: Spence landed four talented songwriters, all from the West Coast and all with extensive gigging credentials. The group's first album was a careful blend of compositions by all five band members. Released within weeks of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, it was full of trendy pseudo-psychedelic two-minute pop songs. At this point, however, everything fell apart. The record company's efforts to hype the album's release (e.g., foolishly releasing five debut singles at once) were a total flop. The same week, three of the band members were busted for drug possession and (ahem) contributing to the delinquency of minors. The album's cover photo had to be modified when someone noticed that it showed a band member flashing a finger.

And so on. Things got worse and worse, with the group falling out with its manager, its performances deteriorating, and Spence consuming enough hallucinogenics to kill a stadium full of Deadheads. In early '68 Spence flipped out completely, running amok with a fire axe and landing in Bellevue for six months (!), which needless to say weakened the group's second album. The Grape cut a third album without him, and later a bizarre country-western fourth album with only three of the original band members, but the spark - and opportunity to cash in on the nation's Summer of Love cultural detour - was gone forever.
(Written by John Alroy. Taken from "Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews".)

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