John Dawson was a founder member of the New Riders Of The Purple Sage and toured with the Dead and NRPS during the early 1970s. During this period he sat in with the Dead on a number of occasions and contributed to three Grateful Dead LPs; Aoxomoxoa, Workingman's Dead and American Beauty.
Dawson contributed to the writing of Friend Of The Devil and was the major songwriter for the New Riders during the seventies.
John Dawson's musical career began in the mid-1960s folk music scene in the San Francisco Bay Area. There he met fellow guitarist David Nelson, and was part of the rotating lineup of Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions, a jug band that included Jerry Garcia and several other future members of the Grateful Dead. Dawson was also influenced by the Bakersfield sound genre of country music.
Dawson had written a number of country rock songs, and Garcia had become interested in playing pedal steel guitar. Joined by Nelson, they formed the New Riders of the Purple Sage.
According to the New Riders' official website, John Dawson died on July 21, 2009.They have released the following statement:
John passed away peacefully on July 21, 2009 at the age of 64 in Mexico, where he had retired several years ago. It is with great sadness that we relay this news, and extend our deepest condolences to his family and all his many fans out there.
His songs inspired us in so many ways. His energy, passion and commitment to the New Riders brought us all so much joy over the years. We can all be thankful that his music and legacy will live on forever.