Pigpen is credited as being the leading voice in the band to transition from an acoustic bluegrass band to an electric blues band. Songs like "Cold Rain and Snow," the band was able to bring with them to their electric gigs, but much of their material had to be started anew. Pigpen knew enough blues material, from growing up as the son of a radio blues DJ, to help supplement the bands repertoire. He was the Grateful Dead front man, but his role quickly changed when they started playing the Acid Test. Pigpen tried LSD once and didn't like it, so when the freak out was in full swing, Pig would sneak away with a bottle of Southern Comfort. These habits are what made him a kindred spirit with Janis Joplin, who was his friend and lover from the mid 60's to her death.
Then in 1970, The Grateful Dead released two studio masterpieces. The first one, Workingman's Dead contained seven Garcia/Hunter songs and one Pigpen original, the first one the band ever recorded. American Beauty featured one Pigpen song. Here is the first original preformed live on the Festival Express tour.
Pigpen's creativity grew and his songwriting abilities started taking shape. Pigpen began the recording sketches of a solo album, which has never been released because it is only a series of rough demos. When the band began their first ever tour of Europe in 1972, their were 10-12 Pigpen songs in rotation. Here are a couple of pro shot songs from Copenhagen on April 17, 1972; "Next Time You See Me" and "Chinatown Shuffle."
This is my cat Pigpen. I found him abandoned in a vacant apartment. I bought him home, to foster him and have had him ever since. Much like his namesake, he has a drinking problem.