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Welcome to a brief history of the Grateful Dead. As with anything I do regarding the Dead, this is done with Jerry in mind, so I hope I do him and the rest of the band some justice. Those of you who have never seen the Grateful Dead, and have only heard their music on album, or CD, need to understand that the Dead were always a LIVE band. The studio was a way to make(or lose, depends on who was screwing them that year)money.
The band began as an acoustic band with strong influences on blugrass and blues. Jerry Garcia had been playing with some other musicians like Robert Hunter(lyricist for the band from day 1), and David Nelson. They played the local pizza shops and coffee houses for little or no pay, honing their talents. During that period, Jerry, who was recently married to Sarah Ruppenthal, and a new father, needed to make some money, so he began giving music lessons at Dana Morgan's. There he met a young Bob Weir who was anxious to learn how to play guitar. Jerry had been acquainted with Ron "Pigpen" Mckernan for a short time, and was interested in forming a working band. At first they had Morgan's son playing bass, since he was supplying the instruments. But shortly after, Garcia, in his search for a better sound asked Phil Lesh, who was a music major in college at the time, and who had never played the bass guitar, to join the band as bassist. They called themselves The Wildwood Boys, but soon changed the name because another band had cut a record as The New Wildwood Boys. They became Mother McCrees Uptown Jug Champions, The Warlocks, and finally, after they had what was the original members of the band in place, The Grateful Dead. Many stories rise from how this name came to be, plain and simple it came from a line in an Oxford Dictionary. Nothing magical or mystical about it. The original members, pictured here at the corners of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco, were: Jerry Garcia, Ron "Pig Pen" McKernan, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Bill Kreutzmann. Fueled by the love of music and not just a few psychadelic drugs, the band began a 30 year odyssey.