June 20, 1969
- Saint Stephen
- Dupree's Diamond Blues
- Doin' That Rag
- Mountains Of The Moon
- China Cat Sunflower
- What's Become Of The Baby?
- Cosmic Charlie
- Jerry Garcia (guitar, vocals)
- Tom Constanten (keyboards)
- Mickey Hart (percussion)
- Bill Kreutzmann (percussion)
- Phil Lesh (basses, vocals)
- Ron "Pigpen" McKernan (keyboards, percussion, vocals)
- Bob Weir (guitars, vocals)
(6) Additional Personnel
- John Dawson (supporting musician)
- David Nelson (supporting musician)
- Peter Grant (supporting musician)
- Wendy (supporting musician)
- Debbie (supporting musician)
- Mouse (supporting musician)
Aoxomoxoa was the Dead’s first recording to be made without an external producer and the first to be dominated by Garcia/Hunter songs. It was also the first recording by the Dead using 16-track tape technology. Early 8-track recordings for the album were abandoned when the 16-track technology became available. Garcia commented on the use of 16-track in the first Deadheads newsletter issued in 1971: “It was our first adventure with 16-track, and we tended to put too much on everything. We tried to use up every track, and it came out mixed by committee. A lot of the music was just lost in the mix.”
Tom Constanten also commented on the use of 16-track technology in Skeleton Key: “Mixing 16-track was another brand-new game. Even when it didn’t sound loud, it sounded dense, and the VU needles were bouncing off the pins. The mixdown became a performance in it’s own right, with three or more pairs of hands on the soundboard, minding their cues.”
The lengthy recording and mixing period, and the relative lack of success of the album when released resulted in the band being in debt to Warner Brothers for nearly $200,000.
All 8 tracks are written by Garcia and Hunter. Robert Hunter spoke of the period in an interview: “Garcia asked me how I’d like to be lyricist in residence for the Dead, and I thought it might be like fine. I had written lyrics on and off since I was 17, but I fancied myself as a serious writer, and rock ‘n’ roll wasn’t exactly what I had planned for myself. But things were changing at such an intense rate, and it seemed like it would be a nice thing to do … I went right to work, fell right into it.”
Garcia spoke in a later interview about the songs, and the reason for many of them subsequently being dropped from the Dead’s performances: “A lot of the Aoxomoxoa songs are overwritten and cumbersome to perform. They’re packed with lyrics or musical changes that aren’t worth it for what finally happens with the song. But, at the time, I wasn’t writing songs for the band to play – I was writing songs to be writing songs. Those were the first songs Hunter and I did together, and we didn’t have the craft of songwriting down.”
In a Rolling Stone interview Garcia described the album as: “…one of my pet records, ’cause it was the first stuff that I thought was starting to sound like how I wanted to hear songs sound.”
Aoxomoxoa was recorded at about the same time as Live/Dead. The first Deadheads newsletter also includes a quote from Garcia about the two albums: “If you take Live/Dead and Aoxomoxoa together, you have a picture of what we were doing then. We were playing Live/Dead and we were recording Aoxomoxoa.”
The album title came from the cover artist Rick Griffin who had been experimenting letter groupings. Griffin asked Hunter about a title for the LP and Hunter suggested that he tried out some of his palindromic lettering things such as OXO and MOM.
One working title of this album was Earthquake Country.
A number of outtakes from the Aoxomoxoa sessions circulate on tape.