Jerry Garcia Talks About the Birth of the Grateful Dead & Playing Kesey’s Acid Tests in New Animated Video

Before the Grateful Dead recorded their classic eponymous country psych album, before they were the Grateful Dead, they were the Warlocks, “playing the divorcees bars up and down the peninsula,” Jerry Garcia tells us above. Their booking agent “used to book strippers and dog acts and magicians and everybody else.” Their first few gigs “sounded like hell,” says Garcia, “very awful.” In this Blank-on-Blank-animated 1988 interview with former Capital-EMI record executive Joe Smith, Garcia gets into the origin of their name (a story involving the East Coast Warlocks, who might have sued. What he doesn’t mention is that the Velvet Underground—inventors of East Coast psych—also played at that time as the Warlocks.)

Smith was with Warner Bros. when the Dead were signed in 1967. His relationship with the band then was frustrated, and he went so far as to call the recording of their second album “the most unreasonable project with which we have ever involved ourselves.” But this conversation is a funny, cordial exchange between two very affable people with surprisingly good memories of the time (Smith also once said the Dead “could have put me in the hospital for the rest of my life”). Jerry tells the story of their invitation to Merry Prankster and psychedelic genius Ken Kesey’s acid test parties in La Honda, California. It’s more or less the history of the West Coast acid rock scene and its apotheosis at Haight-Ashbury, so kind of essential watching, I’d say, but at less than six minutes, you can afford to be the judge.

Related Content:

Ken Kesey Talks About the Meaning of the Acid Tests in a Classic Interview

UC Santa Cruz Opens a Deadhead’s Delight: The Grateful Dead Archive is Now Online

The Grateful Dead Rock the National Anthem at Candlestick Park: Opening Day, 1993

Library of Congress Releases Audio Archive of Interviews with Rock ‘n’ Roll Icons

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


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