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Fifty Years Ago Today Grateful Dead Play Their First Gig

Photo of Grateful Dead & Warlocks
The Warlocks, featuring, from left to right, Phil Lesh on bass, Bob Weir, rhythm guitar, Bill Kreutzman, drums, Jerry Garcia, lead guitar and Ron "Pigpen" McKernan on keyboards, play a gig in the San Francisco Bay area sometime in 1965. By year's end the band would change their name to The Grateful Dead and set off on a thirty year run as one of top touring rock bands of all time.Paul Ryan / Michael Ochs Archives via Getty Images
/ Source: Associated Press

The Grateful Dead played their first show at Magoo's Pizza in Menlo Park, California on May 5, 1965 under the name The Warlocks. After finding out that the name was being used by another band who were already signed to a record contract, they changed their name, first performing as The Grateful Dead later in December of that year.

The Dead's original lineup of Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann are shown in the photo above from 1965 when the band was still performing as The Warlocks in the San Francisco Bay area

To celebrate the anniversary of that first gig, surviving band members Kreutzmann, Lesh, Weir and Mickey Hart will reunite for a pair of shows in Santa Clara, California on June 27th and 28th, near where they started the band 50 years ago, followed by a trio of concerts at Chicago's Soldier Field July 3-5, almost exactly 20 years to the day since they played their final show at the same venue on July 9, 1995.

Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead perform at Shoreline Amphitheatre on June 2, 1995 in Mountain View, California. A little more than a month later, Garcia would be dead at the age of 53, effectively marking an end to the band's thirty years on the road.Tim Mosenfelder / Getty Images