Earth Opera

Band members               Related acts

  line up 1 (1966-68)

- David Grisman -- mandolin, keyboards, sax, vocals

- Peter Rowan -- vocals, guitar, sax 


  line up 2 (1968)

NEW - Paul Dillon -- guitar, drums, vocals, guitar 

- David Grisman -- mandolin, keyboards, sax, vocals

NEW - Billy Mundi -- drums, percussion 

NEW - John Nagy -- bass, cello 

- Peter Rowan -- vocals, guitar, sax 

NEW - Warren Smith -- drums, percussion 

NEW- Bill Stevenson -- keyboards, vibraphone 


  line up 3 (1966-69)

NEW - Jack Bonus -- sax 

NEW - Herb Bushler -- bass 

NEW - Paul Dillon -- guitar, drums, vocals, guitar 

NEW - Richard Grando -- sax, bass, recorder

- David Grisman -- mandolin, keyboards, sax, vocals

NEW - David Horowitz -- keyboards 





- Gas Mask (Richard Grando)

- David Grisman (solo efforts)

- Old and In the Way (David Grisman and Peter Rowan)

- Peter Rowan (solo efforts)

- The Rowan Brothers (Peter Rowan)

- Seatrain (Peter Rowan)

- The String Band Project (David Grisman and  Peter Rowan)



Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  Earth Opera

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKS 74016

Year: 1968

Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record):

Comments: gatefold sleeve; original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5038

Price: $20.00


Here's another Boston, Massachusetts-based outfit that deserved a better fate than what befell them.  


Multi-instrumentalists David Grisman and Peter Rowan first crossed creative paths in 1966.  By that time the two were already veterans on the Northeastern bluegrass circuit, having played with the likes of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, The Mother State Entertainers (Rowan) and The Even Dozen Jug Band and The New York Ramblers (Grisman).  Sharing a common interest in bluegrass and country music, the pair originally started working together as an acoustic duo, eventually expanding the line up to include bassist Bill Nagy and keyboardist Bill Stevenson.


As Earth Opera the quartet signed with Elektra, adding drummer Paul Dillon to the band prior to going into the studio to record their debut.  Released in 1968,  "Earth Opera was produced by fellow bluegrass enthusiast Peter Sigel (Siegel had also played with Grisman in The Even Dozen Jog Band).  Given their bluegrass and country music background, the album was surprisingly experimental, occasionally bordering on being outright progressive.  With Rowan credited with all ten track (Grisman co-wrote 'Time and Again'), material such as 'As It Is Before', 'Death By Fire' and 'The Child Bride' offered up a complex mixture of bluegrass, classical, jazz, pop, raga and rock influences.  Sound weird?  It is.  The combination of Rowan's unique tenor, dark lyrics, weird time patterns and unusual instrumentation (cello, harpsichord, mandolin, mandocello, vibraphone) took a little getting use to, but rewarded those patient enough to give the set a chance.  Think along the lines of fellow Elektra act ARS Nova and you'll get a feel for the overall sound.  Probably too pop for FM audiences and too FM for pop audiences, the album did little commercially.  


"Earth Opera" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) The Red Sox Are Winning   (Peter Rowan) - 3:30

2.) As It Is Before   (Peter Rowan) - 7:21

3.) Dreamless   (Peter Rowan) - 2:50

4.) To Care At All   (Peter Rowan) - 3:34

5.) Home of the Brave   (Peter Rowan) - 4:46


(side 1)

1.) The Child Bride   (Peter Rowan) - 4:40

2.) Close Your Eyes and Shut the Door   (Peter Rowan) - 2:45

3.) Time and Again   (Peter Rowan - David Grisman) - 5:45

4.) When You Were Full of Wonder   (Peter Rowan) - 3:55

5.) Death By Fire   (Peter Rowan) - 6:06


Shortly after the album's release the band underwent a major personnel shift.  with original keyboardist Stevenson calling it quits.  He was replaced by David Horowitz.



Genre: rock

Rating: ** (2 stars)

Title:  The Great American Eagle Tragedy

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKS 74038

Year: 1969

Country/State: US
Grade (cover/record):

Comments: --

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5039

Price: $20.00



Produced by Peter Siegel (with Jac Holzman supervising), 1969's "The Great American Eagle Tragedy" found the band shifting creative gears in search of a changing popular audience. As on the debut Peter Rowan was responsible for most of the material (drummer Paul Dillon contributing the lone exception in the form of a throwaway rocker 'Alfie Finney').  While 'Mad Lydia's Waltz' and 'Al Winter Long' (the latter sounding like an Anglicized version of something out of the International String Band catalog) would have sounded right at home on the debut album much of the new set including tracks like 'Home To You' and 'Roast Beef Love' found the band taking a capable stab at country rock. Elsewhere the fuzz guitar propelled 'Sanctuary from the Law' and parts of the extended title track (offering up a non-too-subtle criticism of American political and social morays) offered up a surprisingly tough rock sound.  An even bigger surprise, Rowan and company sounded pretty darn good when rockin' out.  Clearly a band looking for a sound and an audience the collection had its moments, but absent anything particularly unique or interesting to say, it was hard to give it more than a lukewarm endorsement.  Elektra also tapped the sophomore set for pair of singles, though neither did anything commercially:


- 1968's 'American Eagles Tragedy' b/w 'When You Were Full of Wonder' (Elektra catalog number 45636)

- 1969's 'Home To You' b/w 'Alfie Finney' (Elektra catalog number 45650)


Shortly after the album was released the band called it quits.  Grisman and Rowan relocated to California where they joined Muleskinner and Old and In the Way.  Rowan also spent time with Seatrain and The Rowan Brothers.  Both also recorded solo projects.


"The Great American Eagle Tragedy" track listing:

(side 1)

1.) Home To You  (Peter Rowan) - 4:27

2.) Mad Lydia's Waltz  (Peter Rowan) - 3:47

3.) Alfie Finney   (Paul Dillon) - 2:34

4.) Sanctuary from the Law  (Peter Rowan) - 2:54

5.) All Winter Long  (Peter Rowan) - 5:57


(side 2)

1.) The American Eagle Tragedy  (Peter Rowan) - 10:41

2.) Roast Beef Love  (Peter Rowan) - 3:16

3.) It's Love  (Peter Rowan) - 4:09