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

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.