Organist Howard Wales was best known for his collaborations with Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia. After honing his chops during the mid-1960s backing acts ranging from Ronnie Hawkins to the Four Tops to James Brown, Wales eventually settled in San Francisco, joining the group A.B. Skhy; he first performed with Garcia at the guitarist's weekly jam sessions with bassist John Kahn and drummer Bill Vitt at the Bay Area club the Matrix, and in 1970 played on the Dead's seminal American Beauty
, the first joint Wales/Garcia album, appeared in 1971; in January of 1972, the duo also teamed with guitarist Jim Vincent, bassist Roger Troy and drummer Jerry Love in a band which performed regularly during the year to follow. In addition to a longstanding stint backing guitarist Harvey Mandel, in 1976 Wales released a solo album, Rendezvous with the Sun
; a follow-up, The Monk in the Mansion, appeared a few years later. He performed infrequently with Garcia in the years leading to the latter's 1995 death; one of their 1970 Matrix jams was officially released in 1998 as the first volume in the ongoing Side Trips series.