By any measure, 1970 was a high-water mark for the Grateful Dead. Hot on the heels of the incredible success of Workingman’s Dead that summer, the band returned in the autumn with the equally stunning American Beauty. Those back-to-back classics not only introduced songs that would be a key part of the group’s live repertoire for decades, but they also opened a gateway into the world of the Grateful Dead for generations of Dead Heads. American Beauty will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year with two new releases.Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart recorded American Beauty in August and September 1970 at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco with producer Stephen Quinn Barncard. When they entered the studio, Workingman’s Dead was still on the charts going strong. Such a quick follow-up on studio albums was unheard of for the band, and a feat they would never repeat. Equally shocking was the high level of craftsmanship exhibited by new songs like, “Friend Of The Devil,” “Sugar Magnolia,” “Truckin’,” and “Ripple.” Today, it’s still considered to be one of the greatest albums ever made.