Ned Lagin – piano, clavichord, organ, percussion, synthesizers, computers
Phil Lesh – electric bass
Jerry Garcia – electric guitar, voice
David Crosby – electric twelve-string guitar, voice
Grace Slick – voice
David Freiberg – voice
Mickey Hart – percussion
Spencer Dryden – percussion
Ned Lagin (born March 17, 1949) is an American avant-garde keyboardist.
Lagin is considered a pioneer in the development and use of minicomputers in real-time stage and studio performance. This included running analogue to digital converters and doing digital signal processing to generate music in the era before digital synthesizers appeared on the market. Lagin holds degrees in the humanities and molecular biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has completed coursework at Harvard University and the Berklee School of Music.
A jazz aficionado influenced by the classical and jazz music and art cultures of New York City, Lagin initiated a correspondence with Jerry Garcia after seeing the Grateful Dead at the Boston Tea Party in 1969; in May 1970, he promoted a concert featuring the band at MIT that coincided with the Kent State shootings. That summer, Lagin visited San Francisco and contributed piano to "Candyman" during the American Beauty sessions; he would also cultivate close friendships with Garcia, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, bassist Phil Lesh, and David Crosby during this period. Throughout 1970-1972, Lagin sat in on Hammond organ, electric piano, and clavichord during long instrumental passages at several Grateful Dead concerts in Boston, Berkeley, San Francisco, and Port Chester, New York. In 1971, Lagin began graduate study in composition as an Irving Fine Fellow at Brandeis University, where he completed a symphony, big band suites, and electronic pieces before dropping out and permanently relocating to the Bay Area. During some 1974 Grateful Dead concerts, his synthesizer performances (with Lesh on bass) were featured in a separate set between the Dead's first and second sets. Drummer Bill Kreutzman often joined Lagin and Lesh during these space interludes; sometimes Garcia played along with his guitar filtered through effects processors.
In 1975 Lagin released an album of experimental space music entitled Seastones on Round Records; he described the recording as "electronic cybernetic biomusic." He composed this experimental ambient composition over the course of four years. It was recorded in just as many studios, mixed at a fifth, and mastered at a sixth; in 1990, the album was mixed and remastered at additional studios for CD release. Much of the album consists of traditional instruments (bass, guitar, and voice) and a cadre of synthesizers (the E Modular Synthesizer, or E-mu, various ARPs, and the Buchla Modular System or Buchla digital-polyphonic synthesizer) processed through then-cutting-edge computer technology, with software and interfacing by Lagin. Some of the devices employed by Lagin included the Interdata 7/16 computer with a high speed arithmetic logic unit; an Intel 8080 microprocessor system; and the Altair 8800, which had 256 bytes of RAM. The album was one of the first commercially released recordings to feature the use of digital computers.
The album was recorded in stereo quadraphonic sound and featured guest performances by members of the Grateful Dead, including Jerry Garcia playing treated guitar and Phil Lesh playing electronic Alembic bass. Members of Jefferson Airplane and David Crosby also appear on the album.
Seastones was re-released in stereo on CD by Rykodisc in 1991. The CD version includes the original nine-section "Sea Stones" (42:34) from February 1975, and a live, previously unreleased, six-section version (31:05) from December 1975.On Allmusic, Steven McDonald said, "In short, Seastones is electronic music of the best kind — a shifting sonic landscape out of which the strangest things may emerge. The album isn't an instant absorption device like good new age, mind you — this isn't space music.
Instead, it's a peculiar type of mind game involving familiar names (members of the Grateful Dead, David Crosby, Grace Slick) and doing unfamiliar things to and with them, with the aid of primitive microcomputers and less-than-reliable early-'70s synthesizers." (wikipedia)