1965 was a memorable year. Kellogg’s introduced Apple Jacks, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was completed, the first Porsche 912 was produced and George Barris was commissioned to build the Batmobile for ABC's upcoming Batman TV series. And in Palo Alto, CA, a psychedelic revolution was beginning.
It was the year that Jerry Garcia purchased a banjo at a local music store and met Bill Kreutzman. The two connected – and soon Jerry was working at the store selling instruments and teaching guitar lessons. One of Jerry’s student’s was 16-year old Bob Weir. Jerry and Bob became good friends and soon Bill, Jerry and Bob formed a band. Needing a vocalist, they added 15-year old Ron McKernan, aka ‘Pig Pen to the group. Playing mostly folk and bluegrass music, the four of them called themselves the Warlocks. Soon after, Phil Lesh was added to the band.
When the guys realized that there was already a band called the Warlocks, they went in search of another name – and settled on the Grateful Dead. Living in a communal house, they were considered the leaders on the hippie movement and built a large following of ‘deadheads’ by giving free concerts.
The group's mission as voiced by Jerry Garcia, "We're trying to make music in such a way that it doesn't have a message for anybody. We don't have anything to tell anybody. We don't want to change anybody. We want people to have the chance to feel a little better. That's the absolute most we want to do with our music. The music that we make is an act of love and act of joy…we're not telling [anybody] to go get stoned, or drop out…. We are trying to make things groovier for everybody so more people can feel better more often, to advance the trip, to get higher – however you want to say it – but we're musicians and there's just no way to put the idea 'save the world' into music."
In 2015, in recognition of the band’s 50th anniversary, four original Grateful Dead members – Mickey Hart (joined as the band’s drummer in 1967), Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir – will reunite one final time at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 3, 4, and 5th. The date is nearly 20 years to the day of their last concert which took place at the same venue. This will mark the original member’s last-ever performance together.
Any way you look at it, you just have to feel grateful.
Keeping Watch. Pat