What drugs were the Grateful Dead taking when they recorded their first album?
The Dead got their start as the house band at Ken Kesey’s acid tests in 1965 and were bankrolled by LSD chemist Owsely Stanley early on, so you’d think the answer would be obvious. But in 1967, while they were recording their The Grateful Dead, they chose a different route to mood alteration: diet pills. The band consumed handfuls of Dexamyl, an amphetamine designed to help weight loss, and as a result, some of the tracks, like “Beat It On Down the Line,” are hopped up and manic (not to mention short—a mere three minutes). “That’s what’s embarrassing about that record,” Garcia said. “The tempo was way too fast. We were all so speedy at the time.”
(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)