User Tools

Site Tools


Grateful Dead

Peninsula Pride

Although the band is most commonly associated with San Francisco, it actually began in Palo Alto, performing its first gig on May 5, 1965, at a pizza shop in Menlo Park.1)

Previous Name

The band, which included Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh, was initially known as The Warlocks.2)

The Warlocks

Lou Reed and his band were once known as The Warlocks before becoming the Velvet Underground. 3)

Mother McCree

Weir and Pigpen had previously been teammates in Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. Grateful Dead Records released a 1964 recording of the Palo Alto jug band in 1999. 4)

The Name

While thumbing through a folklore dictionary, Garcia came across the right band name: Grateful Dead. 5)

Debut Show

The newly christened Grateful Dead played their debut show on December 4, 1965, at a house near the San Jose Civic Auditorium, where the Rolling Stones were performing that evening.6)

The Test

That first outing occurred during one of author Ken Kesey's earliest “Acid Tests.” The Grateful Dead essentially became the house band for Kesey's LSD-inspired get-togethers, as chronicled in Tom Wolfe's 1968 book “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.” 7)


One of the most significant outcomes of the Grateful Dead's Acid Tests was a collaboration with legendary LSD manufacturer Owsley Stanley, who went on to finance, produce, record and do pioneering sound work for the band. 8)

Summer Of Love

The Dead, who lived just a few doors up from the intersection, were the most famous residents of Haight-Ashbury. 9)


The band's Haight-Ashbury home was the site of a high-profile drug bust in late 1967, prompting the San Francisco Chronicle to print the above-the-masthead, front-page, all-caps title, “ROCK BAND BUSTED.”10)


Some newer fans may be unfamiliar with McKernan, who died at the age of 27 in 1973. Yet there was a period when this wonderful blues singer, who also played harmonica and keyboards, was basically the franchise's face. 11)

McGannahan Skjellyfetti

McGannahan Skjellyfetti was the authorial alias used to credit the group's compositions, such as “The Golden Road” (To Unlimited Devotion). 12)


Owsley Stanley, often known as “Bear” in the Grateful Dead world, is widely credited with helping to design the band's “Steal Your Face” (lightning bolt on skull) emblem. 13)

Famous Art

The usage of famous motifs such as dancing terrapins and patriotic skeletons, skulls and roses and “dancing” bears helped The Dead build their brand. 14)

Dancing Bears

The iconic multicolored “dancing” bears of the Grateful Dead originally appeared in the artwork for 1973's “History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear's Choice).” However, tradition has it that the bears were supposed to be marching rather than dancing. 15)

Business Books

Real business books include “Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History” (by David Meerman Scott and Brian Halligan) and “Everything I Know About Business I Learned from the Grateful Dead: The Ten Most Innovative Lessons from a Long, Strange Trip” (by Barry Barnes). 16)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In 1994, the Grateful Dead were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. 17)

Rex Foundation

The charity Rex Foundation, founded by the Dead in 1983, has donated approximately $10 million to groups working in the fields of the environment, human rights, education, social services and the arts. 18)

Shows Played

They have played 2317 shows. 19)

Songs Played

They performed 36,086 songs in concerts. 20)


The Dead was more than just a live show. In between constant traveling, the band found time to record 13 studio albums, beginning with its self-titled debut in 1967 and ending with “Built to Last” in 1989. 21)


If you want to hear how excellent the Grateful Dead could be in the studio, listen to the two 1970 albums, “Workingman's Dead” and “American Beauty,” which are generally and rightly recognized as classics. 22)

First Success

The Dead's 1987 album “In the Dark” reached the Top 10 on the album charts more than 20 years into their career. 23)

No Hit Single

For the majority of their existence, The Dead just couldn't crack the Top 40 singles rankings. “Eyes of the World,” “Casey Jones,” “Shakedown Street,” and a slew of other now-classic singles bombed at the top of the charts. 24)

Touch Of Grey

The band's first and only Top 40 success was “Touch of Grey,” which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1987. 25)

Spike Of Interest

Despite the fact that the Dead were best known as a live group, it was the single “Touch of Grey” that triggered a resurgence of interest in the band in the late 1980s. 26)

Brent Mydland

Brent Mydland was the Dead's fourth and longest-serving keyboardist, and he dominated the band's most recent studio album, “Built to Last.” 27)

Jerome John "Jerry" Garcia

Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia was named after the renowned American composer Jerome Kern, who wrote songs including “Ol' Man River,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” and “The Way You Look Tonight.” 28)

Garcia And His Middle Finger

Garcia lost most of his right middle finger in a wood-chopping accident in 1947. His handprint, with the majority of his finger gone, would become a distinctive emblem.29)

Garcia's Early Work

During the early 1960s, the future rock star worked in the Bay Area's bluegrass, folk, and old-timey music scenes.30)

grateful_dead.txt · Last modified: 2021/09/06 14:13 by rapidplatypus