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David Nelson (musician)

David Nelson (musician)

American musician
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American musician
Countries United States of America
Occupations Musician Guitarist
Gender male
Birth June 12, 1943 (Seattle, King County, Washington, U.S.A.)
The details

David Nelson (born June 12, 1943, in Seattle, Washington, U.S.) is an American musician, singer, and songwriter. He is perhaps best known as a co-founder and longtime member of the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Musical career

Although he started his musical career playing folk and bluegrass music (most notably as a member of The Wildwood Boys with Jerry Garcia) Nelson is possibly best known as one of the original members of psychedelic country rock band the New Riders of the Purple Sage. After playing lead guitar with the New Riders from the late sixties until the early 1980s, Nelson left the band to pursue other musical opportunities which included a stint on Broadway as a member of the Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band and some time touring with Al Rapone and the Zydeco Express.

In the mid 1990s, Nelson formed his own group, the critically acclaimed David Nelson Band (aka DNB), whose original members included Bill Laymon (New Riders, Jefferson Starship, Harmony Grits, Gypsy Cowboy Band) on bass, Barry Sless (Cowboy Jazz, Phil Lesh and Friends, Kingfish) on lead and pedal steel guitar, Michael "Mookie" Siegel (Kingfish, Phil Lesh and Friends, Kettle Joe's Psychedelic Swamp Revue) on keyboards and accordion, and Arthur Steinhorn (Cowboy Jazz) on drums. Later on, drumming duties were shared by Charlie Crane, Greg Anton (Zero) and Jimmy Sanchez (Flying Other Brothers). Currently working under the name David Nelson Band, the lineup now includes Pete Sears (original Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, Rod Stewart) on bass and keyboards, and John Molo (Phil Lesh & Friends, Bruce Hornsby and the Range, John Fogerty) on drums.

Along with noted steel player Buddy Cage and guitarist Michael Falzarano, Nelson re-formed The New Riders of the Purple Sage in 2005. This band is currently experiencing a resurgence in popularity, due not only to the veteran performers who front the band but because of the energy provided by drummer Johnny Markowski (Stir Fried) and Ronnie Penque (Ripple, Neon Gods) on bass.

In addition to NRPS, Nelson still performs with his own group the David Nelson Band as well as with The Papermill Creek Rounders, a bluegrass group he co-founded with his long-time friend, Lowell "Banana" Levenger (formerly of The Youngbloods).

During the summer of 2006, Nelson was asked to contribute to an album of Grateful Dead songs being made in Nashville by Jesse McReynolds. While in Nashville for the recording sessions, Nelson appeared on the Grand Ol' Opry and played "Ripple," the first-ever Grateful Dead song to be performed on the Opry.

In addition to his work in his own bands, Nelson has performed as a guest artist on recordings by many other artists, including three Grateful Dead albums: Aoxomoxoa, Workingman's Dead, and American Beauty. He is well known as the lead singer on The New Riders of the Purple Sage's 1973 countercultural anthem, "Panama Red".


This is a partial discography of albums on which David Nelson appears.

David Nelson Band

  • Limited Edition (1996)
  • Keeper of the Key (1997)
  • Visions Under the Moon (1999)
  • High Adventure in Japan (1999)
  • Once in a Blue Moon (2014)

New Riders of the Purple Sage

  • New Riders of the Purple Sage (1971)
  • Powerglide (1972)
  • Gypsy Cowboy (1972)
  • The Adventures of Panama Red (1973)
  • Home, Home on the Road (1974)
  • Brujo (1974)
  • Oh, What a Mighty Time (1975)
  • New Riders (1976)
  • Who Are Those Guys? (1977)
  • Marin County Line (1977)
  • Feelin' All Right (1981)
  • Before Time Began (1986)
  • Vintage NRPS (1986)
  • Live on Stage (1993)
  • Worcester, MA, 4/4/73 (2003)
  • Boston Music Hall, 12/5/72 (2003)
  • Veneta, Oregon, 8/27/72 (2004)
  • Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin, TX, 6/13/75 (2005)
  • S.U.N.Y., Stonybrook, NY, 3/17/73 (2007)
  • Wanted: Live at Turkey Trot (2007)
  • Winterland, San Francisco, CA, 12/31/77 (2009)
  • Where I Come From (2009)
  • 17 Pine Avenue (2012)

With other artists

  • Aoxomoxoa – Grateful Dead (1969)
  • Workingman's Dead – Grateful Dead (1970)
  • American Beauty – Grateful Dead (1970)
  • Slewfoot – David Rea (1973)
  • Pistol Packin' Mama – The Good Old Boys (1976)
  • Rock Columbia – Robert Hunter (1986)
  • A Wing and a Prayer – Matt Kelly (1987)
  • Almost Acoustic – Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band (1988)
  • Zydeco to Go – Al Rapone (1990)
  • Frank Wakefield and the Good Old Boys – Frank Wakefield and the Good Old Boys (1992)
  • She's No Angel – Frank Wakefield and the Good Old Boys (1992)
  • Dead Ringers – Dead Ringers (1993)
  • Blue Morning – Toni Brown (1996)
  • Dick's Picks Volume 8 – Grateful Dead (1997)
  • Don't Stop the Music (Arrets Pas La Musique) – Allen Fontenot and the Country Cajuns (1997)
  • Pure Jerry: Lunt-Fontanne, New York City, October 31, 1987 – Jerry Garcia Band and Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band (2004)
  • Pure Jerry: Lunt-Fontanne, New York City, The Best of the Rest, October 15–30, 1987 – Jerry Garcia Band and Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band (2004)
  • For Rex: The Black Tie Dye Ball – various artists (2006)
  • Crossing the Line – Bill Cutler (2008)
  • Road Trips Volume 3 Number 3 – Grateful Dead (2010)
  • Ragged but Right – Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band (2010)
  • Songs of the Grateful Dead – Jesse McReynolds (2010)
  • The Wheel: A Musical Celebration of Jerry Garcia – various artists (2011)
  • On Broadway: Act One – October 28th, 1987 – Jerry Garcia Band and Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band (2015)
  • Folk Time – Hart Valley Drifters (2016)
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