50th Anniversary Of The First Grateful Dead Show

On May 5, 1965, a band called the Warlocks played their first show at Magoo’s Pizza in Menlo Park.

From Jerry’s Brokedown Palaces:

They played every Wednesday in May. The club was packed with students from Menlo Atherton High School, thanks to shrewd campaigning by the group’s first fans. However, despite the promising start to the young band, bassist Dana Morgan was not cutting it. Garcia’s friend Phil Lesh saw the last Wednesday night gig (on May 26), and Garcia invited him to replace Morgan (Garcia had to teach Lesh to play bass, as Phil only played trumpet, piano and violin).


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.”

Later in the year, the band changed their name to the Grateful Dead.