Sunday, November 1, 1970

Grateful Dead “Friend of the Devil” released

Friend of the Devil

Grateful Dead

Writer(s): Robert Hunter (words), Jerry Garcia and John Dawson (music) (see lyrics here)

Released: November 1, 1970 (album cut on American Beauty)

Peak: 8 CL, 3 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 11.6 video, 92.1 streaming

Friend of the Devil

Lyle Lovett

Released: April 23, 1991 (album cut on Deadicated)

Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.7 video, -- streaming

Awards (Grateful Dead):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Lyle Lovett):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The Grateful Dead formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. While they became one of the most celebrated live acts of all time, they released a pair of critically acclaimed studio albums (Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty) in 1970. The latter was marked by several classics, including “Truckin’,” “Sugar Magnolia,” and “Friend of the Devil.”

While he wasn’t a performer, lyricist Robert Hunter regularly collaborated with the band. He is credited on nine of the ten songs on American Beauty, including “Friend of the Devil.” Hunter once said “that was the closest we’ve come to what may be a classic song.” WK

Hunter actually wrote the song with the intent of playing it with New Riders of the Purple Sage who had asked him to be their bassist. Member John Dawson got a credit on the song because he helped Hunter tweak the lyrics, including the line “a friend of the devil is a friend of mine.” SF

The largely acoustic song is one of the Grateful Dead’s most covered songs, including versions by Elvis Costello, Counting Crows, Bob Dylan, Loggins & Messina, Dave Matthews Band, Ministry, Mumford & Sons, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Lyle Lovett recorded it in 1991 for Deadicated, a rainforest benefit album of Grateful Dead cover songs.


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First posted 3/20/2023.

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