The story behind one of the most technically decorated and carefully crafted bass instruments in music history is one of true Grateful Dead lore. As one of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s most iconic instruments, ‘Mission Control’ was built at Alembic by luthier Rick Turner in 1973 not just for, but as part of, The Wall of Sound. Featured in The Grateful Dead Movie, this instrument was on stage with the Grateful Dead from 1974 until 1979. Shortly after Phil stopped playing her in 1980, she was gutted of her pickups and lost for 40 years, she has been found and restored and is ready to be heard again.
After being out of public view for nearly four decades, the bass landed in the hands of Jason Scheuner, Deadhead and Artist Liason for Telefunken. “We are thrilled to be the new custodian of the most significant bass guitar in Rock n Roll History! The Rick Turner/Alembic/Phil Lesh “Mission Control” bass, aka “Osage Orange”, aka “The Omega”. It was important to us that it go to a Deadhead, it has and now can be shared with the world. Dark Star Orchestra was the obvious choice to debut the stage return of this historic instrument, and will be played by DSO bassist Skip Vangelas.” To complete the final steps of the restoration to get the instrument back to create its quality, stage-ready sound, Scheuner continues, “Rick Turner will be flying down to San Diego to complete the final step of the restoration before the first show. The neck and bridge pickups removed some 40 years ago have now been found and recovered (from Fred Hammon of Dark Star Pickups) and will be installed to complete the restoration of this historic instrument.”
The instrument’s creator Rick Turner states "Ahhh, the return of the prodigal bass! ‘Mission Control’ is likely the ultimate four string electric bass as a combination of lutherie and electronics. She disappeared decades ago having been frightfully abused, but she lives again! I'm so happy to have been the luthier who built her and to be participating in the restoration to stage ready. I can’t wait to hear her in her full glory with Dark Star Orchestra in San Diego & Los Angeles next week!”
‘Mission Control’ will appear at Dark Star Orchestra shows at Friday, February 21 at the House of Blues in San Diego, CA and Saturday, February 22 at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, CA. DSO is in the midst of the Winter Tour winding down the Pacific Coast with a two-night stand at The Warfield in San Francisco coming up this weekend; where notably, two of Jerry Garcia’s early 70s instruments will join Dark Star Orchestra on stage for their first appearance on the stage since 1973. Complete information and tickets for all shows are available at https://www.darkstarorchestra.net/tour-dates/. More information on Rick Turner is available at www.rickturnerguitars.com and Alembic at www.alembic.com.