Bob Mosley

One of rock’s greatest chroniclers, author Jeff Tamarkin, duly noted that “the Grape’s saga is one of squandered potential, absurdly misguided decisions, bad luck, blunders and excruciating heartbreak, all set to the tune of some of the greatest rock and roll ever to emerge from San Francisco. Moby Grape could have had it all, but they ended up with nothing, and less.” Amen Jeff. Despite being overshadowed by the Grateful Dead, Janis & Big Brother, and Jefferson Airplane, the original Moby Grape were, to my ears, among the finest ensembles to emerge from the Bay Area psychedelic scene – especially with regard to musicianship and songwriting. In addition to his formidable skills as a vocalist and composer, Bob Mosley was an exemplary bassist with a strong command of rhythm & blues and jazz. Musicologists continue to debate Jimmy Page and Robert Plant’s pillage of Mosley’s “Never” (Wow/Grape Jam, 1968) for “Since I’ve Been Loving You” (Led Zeppelin III, 1970) – you be the judge.  Unfortunately, the Grape’s recorded canon has gone in and out of print – however their brilliant self-titled debut (1967), the aforementioned Wow/Grape Jam (with Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield), and their countrified Moby Grape ’69 – all with Mosley, are worth scouring though the bins at yard sales, antique shops, and flea markets.  Coda: Jeff Tamarkin’s Got A Revolution: The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane (Atria Books) is essential reading for rock fans of the above referenced era.

Thomas SemioliComment