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home | Acid Test Chronicles | The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 7 - . . .

This is a One-of-A-Kind Poster for the Warlocks first paid gig at Magoos Pizza Parlor. This poster was taken down from a local Coffee Shop in the area, where these kind of events were often posted and advertised.
This is a One-of-A-Kind Poster for the Warlocks first paid gig at Magoos Pizza Parlor. This poster was taken down from a local Coffee Shop in the area, where these kind of events were often posted and advertised.

The Acid Test Chronicles - Page 7 - The Warlocks First Paid Gig - Magoo's Pizza Parlor, Menlo Park

   "And let's not forget that this group had metamorphosed from a jug band. A lot of the songs the Warlocks played came straight from the Mother McCree's repertoire, which meant that even in the group's nascent days it was stunningly eclectic and quite a bit different from the other electric groups on the scene. Yes, there were other bands around that played "Somkestack Lightning," and "Johnny B. Goode" and "It's All Over Now," but they weren't playing "Stealin'," and "Overseas Stomp" (also called "Lindy"), "I Know You Rider" and "Viola Lee Blues." And they didn't have the same reckless abandon that nearly everyone who heard the Warlocks could sense immediately, "We were always motivated by the possibility that we could have fun, big fun," Garcia said. "I was reacting, in a way, to my bluegrass background, which was maybe a little overserious. I was up for the idea of breaking out. You know: 'Give me that electric guitar--fuckin' A!' " -- Garcia: An American Life - Blair Jackson - Page 69
   "Many of the people who had supported the jug band also followed Garcia, Weir and Pigpen when they started playing electric music."

   "It was mainly a big contingent of Peninsula friends and a few curious onlookers who made the scene at Magoo's Pizza Parlor on Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, where the group played some of it's first gigs in May of 1965. Pigpen and pizza: what a combination! It's hard to say whether Magoo's was a step up or a step down from local haunts like the Continental Roller Bowl in Santa Clara or Big Al's Gas House in Redwood City, but at least it was a place to play, and the fans turned out in force. "When we were the Warlocks," Garcia said, "the first time we played in public [at Menlo College], we had a huge crowd of people from the local high school, and they went fuckin' nuts! The next time we played it was packed to the rafters. It was a pizza place. We said, 'Hey, Can we play in here on Wednesday night? We won't bother anybody. Just let us set up in the corner.' It was pandemonium, immediately." - Garcia: American Life - Blair Jackson - Pages 70-71

   "I remember going to a couple of rehearsals of Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions. Various publications have listed me as a member of the band but I never was. I was at the Warlock's first gig at Magoo's. This was when they finally got all their shit together. I think they rehearsed in Dan's for the first one and then they got this gig at Magoo's. The thing about Dana was that he had all the stuff to play on so they let him be the bass player. He couldn't play bass for shit man. They gave him the best break possible and he just couldn't do it." -- John "Marmaduke" Dawson -- Dark Star Oral Biography - Robert Greenfield - Page 64

   "Jammed into a tiny, dark rehearsal room at Morgan's, they practiced away, setting the snare drums that sat on the wall to rattling. Garcia was studying Freddie King as he began the process of translating precision bluegrass playing into blues-based guitar licks. From the beginning, his style would retain the clarity of the banjo note, but electric guitar allowed for a freedom of expression, particularly of rhythm, and for emphasizing individual notes, in a way that bluegrass banjo never could. One reason the room was crowded was their audience. The first rehearsal had been closed, but a friend of Weir's, veteran Beatlemaniac Sue Swanson, had elected herself fan for life and found a corner from which to watch the second rehearsal, and those that followed. She was soon joined by her sister in Beatleism, Connie Bonner. Fairly soon, Sue also found herself a job, that of playing the 45s from which the band learned new songs. At length, it came time to choose their name. Weir was reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and there was much talk of wizards and magic. Some combinations of Weir, Garcia, and Pigpen came up with the name "Warlocks," and it stuck. On May 5, the Warlocks played their first public show, at Magoo's Pizza Parlor in Menlo Park. It was a quiet night, with an audience that was primarily Menlo-Atherton High School students, since Sue, Connie, and another of Weir's friends, Bob Matthews, had talked up the show there.
   By the second gig, on May 12, the joint was packed, and the response was fabulous. Hunter, for one, thought the show was "wonderful". They were a basic cover band, playing Chuck Berry, "Stealin'," Dylan's "Baby Blue," King Bee," "Walkin' the Dog," "Wooly Bully," and other hits. Afterward, there was the usual party, and Jerry and Phil Lesh, who'd arrived late and missed the gig, went out to Weir's friend's car to get stoned. It was a slightly nervous situation, since Weir was not only underage but incapable of dissimulation. But pot was pot, and this baggie came from a special source, a friend of Weir's having purchased it from the legendary Neal Cassady, "Dean Moriarty" of Kerouac's On the Road. This was an exceptional pedigree, and they all appreciated it.
    ....."On May 27 [3rd and last Magoo's show] Phil and his friends Hank Harrison and Bobby and Jane Petersen took some acid and went down to Menlo Park to see what Jerry's band could do. Hunter was also there, as were Bonnie and David Parker. His imagination seized by Pigpen's harmonica on "Little Red Rooster," Lesh began to dance, and was told by the pizza parlor management to stop. Kreutzmann would recall his long blond hair shaking away, and the ensuing argument. Weir knew Garcia had plans for his old friend. the bass player, Dana Morgan, wasn't really a musician, and he couldn't make weekend gigs because of a National Guard obligation. Moreover, his wife didn't particularly care for the other Warlocks. Consequently, after the first set Garcia pulled Lesh into a booth, put a beer in his hand, and told him, "Listen man, you're gonna play in my band." It was a statement, not a question or invitation. "I was so excited," Lesh said, "that I didn't have to think about it...but I knew something great was happening, something bigger than everybody, bigger than me for sure." Afterward they went over to Garcia's home, where Bobby Petersen told Garcia that they had taken LSD. "Gee," Jerry replied, "if I'd known you were doing acid, I'd have taken you on a better trip...I could never play doing acid." It would be a while before he'd be confident enough to get high and play, and the first time was accidental." -- What A Long Strange Trip - Dennis McNally - Page 81-83

   "Jerry and those guys were beyond the music even then. They were  abunch of very hip guys. They were all reading The Hobbit and they were doing this communal living that opened my eyes. I dug the music because they were doing bluegrass songs.  They were doing Bob Dylan. They were putting this roots music in the context of rock 'n' roll." -- David Grisman - Dark Star Oral Biography - Robert Greenfield - Page 63

  "As the Warlocks, they had a hard time getting work at first. They didn't get hired anywhere for a long time, but they finally started landing some club dates. Their first gig was at Magoo's Pizza Parlor in Menlo Park. they played three nights over a three-week period, and word about their brand of electric blues and rock 'n' roll began to spread. Garcia described what transpired. "The first night at the pizza parlor, nobody was there. When we played there again, it was on a Wednesday night; there [were] a lot of kids there. And then the third night there [were] three or four hundred, all up from the high schools--and in there man, in there was this rock 'n' roll band. We were playing; people were freaking out.
   Phil Lesh recounted the details of the night that he went to see Garcia's new band play at Magoo's: ..."whenever it was that they were playing, we took acid and went down there...We came bopping in there, and it was really happening. Pigpen ate my mind with the harp, singing the blues..." -- Captain Trips - 59-60


   "For the next few weeks, we heard nothing from down south, but then word started coming in -- the Warlocks were playing Fridays and Saturdays at a pizza joint in Menlo Park called Magoo's. Ruth and I scored a ride down for Saturday -- the night that was to change my life forever.
   The band was in full swing as we approached the door, and so were we. The music was so loud, even outside, and the groove so compelling, that I just had to dance. In the door we danced, only to be blown back against the wall by the loudest music I'd ever heard. The band was set up right in the front and seperated from the side wall by only the width of the door; we had to fight our way through an almost palpable sea of sound, only to be informed by some fans that there NO! Dancing! Allowed! -- something about a permit. This put a damper on our fun for about five seconds, and we all squeezed into a booth to listen. The band finished the rocker that they'd been dismembering as we came in and started out on a slow blues that I recognized from a Stones album -- "I'm a King Bee". When Pig came in with the vocal, I had to look away; it was just so sexual -- the sound of his voice over the mike delivering slithery insinuations and promises of pleasures beyond comprehension -- and when he took a harp lead (backed by Jerry, in a call-and-response-pattern), it absolutely ate my mind: Whew, these guys never sounded like this at all those parties! What was new of course, was electricity: Amplification of instruments and voices enabled nuances that once would have been lost in the noise floor to be clearly heard and developed further in a seemingly infinite progression. I didn't have much time to contemplate those kinds of thoughts; the band went into another rocker, and I spasmodically leaped up from my seat and twitched around the very narrow isle around the booths and the wall -- until I felt a hand descend none too gently on my shoulder. This time it was the manager himself: "You can't dance in here!" Oh, all right already; but by this time the band had finished their set, and Jerry dragged me away and sat me down in a booth, with an uncharacteristically serious look on his face. "Listen man, I want you to come and play Bass in this band. The guys we have can't cut it; we have to tell him what notes to play. I know you're a musician -- you can pick up this instrument so easy." At first, I didn't know quite how to respond -- this was so out of the blue -- of course I'd forgotten about our conversation at the party just a few weeks previously, and to this day i'm not sure whether or not that was a factor in Jerry's offer. Needless to say, he didn't have to twist my arm very hard; having been at loose ends for so long, I was tremendously excited, as I'd been waiting subconsciously for some opportunity to get back into music on any level at all. Besides, I knew I could learn the instrument, and even play it differently than I had so far heard it being played (something I instinctively knew had to happen, given Jerry's unique approach to music); even so, I had to have at least one condition: "O.k., man, i'll do it, but I want you to give me a lesson." "A Lesson?" "Yep, just one lesson, so I'll have a good idea of the fundamentals." "Sure -- come on over to my house after the gig and you got it.
   During the second set, I was doing some furiously concentrated listening, trying to percieve the relationships between the various roles -- rhythm section, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, voice -- and trying to figure out what I could do to fit in in a creative way, no small challenge given the rapport that Bob, Jerry, Pig and their drummer Bill Kreutzmann, had already developed. Billy and I didn't meet that night, but he remembers me sitting up front, being "in the band on an energy level." It turns out that Jerry, after our conversation at the party, had actually mentioned me to Bobby right before the gig at Magoo's, saying that he knew someone who could learn the bass fast, a musician, and he's going to be here tonight. How could he have known? We had just spontaneously decided to go down late that afternoon. -- Searching for the Sound - Phil Lesh - Pages 46-47

   "Anyone who saw Ginsberg on T.V. and dropped out and played jazz and wore a beret and let his hair grow a little longer knows what it's all about. But anyone who stayed home and went to ballgames ten years ago couldn't have followed the zen path: It's very narrow, it's mutually exclusive. There was only one door open in and around San Francisco, and a finite number of curiousity seekers took the opportunity to pass like the Elu of the Nine in Masonic ritual. An even smaller number found their way to Menlo Park in 1965, to a Pizza Parlor called Magoo's. Magoo's was just a place, prosaic and accidental, on a clean, upper-middle-class street. But Magoo's is where the Grateful Dead started. The San Francisco Sound. It was a small sound by present standards, but it started before LBJ or the moon landings.
   People had gotten together and they all heard the sound for the first time and they could still hear it a week later, tingling on the lips. They felt it in the air, the sheer magnetic mantra. They knew it was apocryphal because they had never heard anything like it before. So it was a new human experience being had...there in Magoo's.
   That was when the bubble jelled. To be ripped open and blown up again a thousand times. White magic and the antagonist -- black magic lurking in some sinister corner. The impression stored in crystals of a sugar cube brought all the way from N.Y., from IFIF: 

If What?
International Federation for Internal Freedom
The last time Tim Leary saw sanity.

   There it was, this little montage of history inside this little sugar cube and it all happened simultaneously on a white pedestal on a purple pillow with the gold tassles -- the crown jewel of all heads -- the first LSD.
   Internal Freedom but not external -- music worked on externals. The music worked from the crust inward...the acid etched from the inside out...and the music progressed from pizza parlors to topless joints to the Acid Tests to the college campus to the Philharmonic to wax grooves rotating at 33 1/2 rpm to celluloid passing at shutter at 16 fps to GOD and, finally, to peace, we hope." -- The Grateful Dead - Vanguard of a New Generation - Hank Harrison - Pages 12-13

   From Phil Lesh's Bio :
   Phil met Garcia at a party in 1961. Jerry was an up and coming bluegrass banjo picker, Phil was doing engineering work for the progressive Berkeley radio station KPFA and managed to get his new friend his first serious radio exposure. They saw each other, as well as the other future members of the Dead, at various parties and events over the next few years, not knowing their destinies were to become entwined. That finally happened in the spring of 1965. Phil was living in a bohemian enclave in San Francisco called Haight-Ashbury, working as a driver for the post office, growing his hair long and getting into Dylan and the Rolling Stones and other bands he heard on the radio. One night he and some friends took some LSD, which was still legal then, drove down to Palo Alto and saw Garcia's new electric band, The Warlocks, at a pizza parlor. 
   The Warlocks blew Phil's mind that night, and during a set break Garcia approached him about becoming their new bassist. Though he'd never played bass before, he accepted the challenge and set about learning the instrument in his own peculiar way: rather than studying and copying the great pop and R&B bassists of the day, he relied on his deep knowledge of jazz and classical music--of composers like Bach and Palestrina, and jazz bassists such as Scott La Faro and Charles Mingus--to inform his style, which evolved quickly onstage at Warlocks gigs. 

   The guys chose a dark, forbidding new name -- the Warlocks (which would later be an early name for a band of another sphere, the Velvet Underground). Lesh joined in May 1965, after the first set of a Warlocks gig at a pizza parlor in Menlo Park that Lesh attended, high on acid, and enjoyed so well that he danced by himself in front of the bandstand. Garcia cornered him and announced, "Hey, man -- you're going to be the bass player in this band," as Lesh recalls. Such was Garcia's intuitive sense of the two men's companionability, his faith in Lesh's fundamental musical acumen and his disdain for the rudimentary plunking of the music-store owner's son, whose father repossessed the band's equipment. (Garcia hustled up replacement gear on loan.) - From Rolling Stone : 

   In my book, Cosmic Trends, I described one of the first Grateful Dead concerts—at a pizza parlor—when they were still known as the Warlocks. Cosmic Trends’ Table of Contents lists a Chapter 14 short subsection titled, “Uranus-Pluto Profile: The Warlocks.” A casual reader could be forgiven for thinking that, since my book is found in the New Age section of bookstores, the Warlocks must be about Wicca.
   Cosmic Trends is an astrology book that connects events in history and popular culture to the cycles of the outer planets, and I included the Grateful Dead in my book to help illustrate the cataclysmic cultural changes that took place in the mid-1960’s.
   Although I wrote about the Warlocks in the third person, I was present at their debut. Several readers have written asking for more information on this historic concert.
   I attended Palo Alto High School. Pigpen (Ron McKernon) was not exactly an alum, since he dropped out, but Palo Alto was “home” to some of the early Dead. Phil Lesh (who I recently saw in concert and wrote about in my blog) lived a few blocks from the high school—although he had not yet joined the group when I saw them perform at Magoo’s Pizza Parlor. My younger sister took guitar lessons from Jerry Garcia at a local music store. Dana Morgan, Jr., was an early band member whose father owned the Dana Morgan music store (which closed in the 1980’s) in downtown Palo Alto. One night, I was at a dead (referring solely to the party atmosphere) Saturday night party when Bill Weir dropped by. At that time—probably late 1965—he was already a minor local celebrity and his arrival at the party caused a stir.
   A friend of mine heard that a really good band was going to be playing at Magoo’s Pizza Parlor in nearby Menlo Park. It was May, 1965, and I was a junior in high school. This band, the Warlocks, had played one night already and word was spreading that this was some great music.
   Although memory is a bit tricky, I seem to recall that they played two sets and that my friends and I arrived during their first set. I do know that they were already playing when we arrived. A girl I knew from my high school was there—much to my surprise because she was not part of my own hip little clique. She was dancing on the sidewalk, as were a number of other people. That was my first clue that something amazing was going on. Dancing on the sidewalk in Menlo Park? That was almost like a guy not getting a haircut. Or painting a school bus with psychedelic colors.
   I was with a group of three or four friends. The atmosphere inside Magoo’s was strictly pizza parlor—bright overhead lights, long tables, ovens in the back. The band was set up by the front plate glass window, confined to a rather narrow area without a stage. Jerry Garcia was on the audience’s left, Pigpen on the far right. Those two, especially, looked somewhat menacing (at least to a suburban 15 year-old). They reminded me of outlaw bikers. Bob Weir, Dana Morgan, and Bill Kreutzmann were clean-shaven and looked more like guys you might see in a high school band.
   The music was stunning. I have never forgotten it, although I cannot recall the specific set list. I think they did some Stones covers and I know that Pigpen sang “Little Red Rooster.” They were not the psychedelic Dead or the Americana Dead. The music I heard was raw rhythm and blues, propelled to a large extent by Pigpen’s animal magnetism (I suppose that’s a bit sexist, but it’s really how he came across).
   I left feeling: Not only is this the best music I have ever heard—it’s the best music I will ever hear. It stirred something deep within me, a kind of longing where a layer of the superficial world had been peeled back and I could see the possibility of something beyond a life of neat cul-de-sacs, trimmed magnolias, and hanging out at Mitchell Park.
   As I mentioned in my book, when rumor spread that the Warlocks had changed their name to the Grateful Dead, we were confused. “What does it mean? Great Full Dead? I don’t get it.” “No, it’s Grateful Dead.” “Oh, but…what does that mean?” We dug deep to come up with answers. We parsed. We looked to ancient texts.
   In June, 1966, I graduated from high school and moved to London. When I returned to the Bay Area some 16 months later, the Dead had released their first album, which did not sound at all like what I’d heard at Magoo’s."
from http://www.astrofuturetrends.com/grateful_dead.htm
My Account of the First Grateful Dead Concert: May, 1965