Growing up in San Francisco in the 50’s, keyboardist Melvin Seals was first enraptured by gospel music. When he heard the work of legendary session musician Billy Preston on tracks by Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, and The Beatles, Seals saw a life for himself in rock and pop. He would play in the Jerry Garcia Band from 1980 until the Grateful Dead front man’s death in 1995. Now, Seals leads his own version of the band, which stops Thursday at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He tells WAMC that his entry into the world of psychedelic rock was a culture shock.
Here's the full conversation with Seals, where he explains his journey through music and why the Jonestown Massacre made entering the world of Jerry Garcia at first seem frightening.