The Warlocks was the original name of the iconic band ‘Grateful Dead’. At that time even Lou Reed and his gang used the same name [the warlocks] before they became the Velvet Underground.
So, Jerry Garcia and his team planned to change their band’s name to something unique. They found the name Grateful Dead from the phrase of a folklore dictionary. It means a soul that is obliged to charitable people existing on the earth and making arrangements for the burial of the soul.
The personalities and the musical background of every member of the band were extremely different. Phil Lesh did not like to rock ‘n’ roll. Jerry belonged to a bluegrass/folk background. Bob Weir was into folk music.
Bill Kreutzmann was a jazz drummer. Several in the band started playing electric instruments after they became part of the Warlocks. On every level the band was weird but miraculously they worked together for three decades.
First gig with a new name
Grateful Dead’s first performance with this new name was on 4th December 1965. The gig was near San Jose Civic Auditorium, which was booked for the Rolling Stones Band that same evening.
‘Acid Test’ scene
The first ‘Acid Test’ was opened to the like-minded public, where LSD was enjoyed openly along with all the chaos, untethered visuals, and musical displays, which the Warlocks attended. It was of a highway where people were publicly doing LSD.
The Grateful Dead’s soon became the house band of the Tests. There were weekly gatherings, which gave the band a space to evolve and improvise.
Due to this success of Acid tests, the Dead band went in partnership with Owsley Stanley, a popular LSD manufacturer. Owsley, produced, recorded, financed, and even pioneered the sound work for Dead band.
Designs and T-shirts
The brand was built using iconic images ranging from patriotic skeletons and dancing terrapins to roses & skulls to dancing bears. Even though the artwork dancing bears appeared on their album the bears were assumed to be marching and not dancing. The ‘Steal Your Face’ logo got designed with the help of Owsley, who was also called ‘Bear’ in the Dead community.
- The Dead band played in 2,317 gigs.
- Songs performed in the concerts were 36,086.
- In 1983 – The Non-Profit Rex Foundation [started by the Dead] donated $10 million towards NGOs and charities working for education, human rights, arts, and social services.
- In 1994 – The Dead got treasured in Rock & Roll’s Hall of Fame.
- In 2007 – The Band earned Grammy Lifetime Achievement award.