Moby Grape was a band which assembled itself in late 1966, in San Francisco. They got their name from a dumb joke given below. Their lead guitarist, Jerry Miller, had at one time toured momentarily with the Bobby Fuller Four (of undying "I Fought the Law" fame). Another of their guitarists, Alexander "Skip" Spence, had passed through the Quicksilver Messenger Service before drumming in the Jefferson Airplane for a while. He was fired for being unreliable, but he lasted long enough to play on their first album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.

Everybody thought they were the next big thing, and Columbia signed them almost immediately. Their eponymous first album was a minor psychedelic masterpiece (incl. the mindbending "Omaha"), and then everything turned to shit. In a miasma of hype, the label did everything wrong, and the record tanked. Columbia released five singles at once from that album! They had purple velvet press kits! So much for marketing.

Their second album, Wow, was recorded in Manhattan in late 1967 and early 1968. The material was uninspired. Spence had a psychotic break during the sessions, ran amok with a fire axe, and ended up in a locked ward for six months.

The third album, Moby Grape '69 was actually pretty nifty. It doesn't have the raw edge of wild-eyed euphoric weirdness that informed the first one, but it was a good record full of good songs. The bass player, Bob Mosley, bailed out at the end of the tour for that one. Not long after, the three remaining members wasted three days in Nashville taping a sad little afterthought of a final album called Truly Fine Citizen.

They've reunited sporadically ever since, recording a couple of iffy records of new material. Spence is now dead.

What the hell, they sold a lot more records than I ever did. There are worse ways to waste one's youth, leaving aside that episode with the fire axe and the restraints.

Punchline to:

What's big and purple and lives at the bottom of the sea?

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