White Gum found out that Hunter registered a copyright for the song
(along with many of tunes form his solo album Tales of the Great Rum Runners
) in 1973. The explanation for this discrepancy in timelines is found in the 25th issue of the Dead fanzine Dark Star
(December, 1980: "Sometimes The Cards Ain't Worth A Dime... If You Don't Lay 'Em Down: The Robert Hunter Interview #3"), in which Ken Hunt asked Hunter about the band.
Hunter explained that he'd started playing in the "band that became Roadhog" ten or twelve years earlier (which would place the beginning all the way back to between 1967 and 1969). The band had originally been called the Liberty Hall Aristocrats and was headed by Rodney Albin.
Albin may not be a household name, but according to Hooterollin' Around
, he definitely left his mark: Albin started the first folk club in the South Bay area of Los Angeles County, California.
Hooterollin' Around continues: "Rodney Albin's name was hardly known amongst Deadheads at the time, and even those who knew of him hardly realized his impact, but he was an absolutely critical figure in the history of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, and the Haight-Ashbury as a whole."
Hunter initially played with the band under the name of Lefty Banks because he wasn't confident enough in his ability to perform live and didn't want to hurt the reputation he'd cultivated as the Dead's lyricist.
The band had fun with this fake identity. At a Berkley fraternity party they announced that "Lefty" was going to perform "Must Have Been the Roses." One of the kids at the show was blown away by how much Lefty sounded like Robert Hunter.