My 'Warlock' Days at the Hampton Coliseum in 1989.
October 9, 2017
What's in a name?
If you are trying to keep a low profile and do some really special shows, everything.
I always loved the original name for the group of musicians I would join and spend close to 50 years making music with. I can picture that moment in my head when they decided to call themselves "The Warlocks." A perfect name for a group of musical wizards. Apparently, there was another group of guys who thought they were magic as well, and around 1966 a name change was in order for Jerry and the boys. "The Grateful Dead" was born.
There are many accounts of the origin of the new name and often times - after 50 years - the details are fuzzy even for those who were there. Phil has one version, Jerry had another and even Ice Nine has a version. Alan Trist, who was the director of Ice Nine, once said in an interview that Garcia found the name in the Funk & Wagnalls Folklore Dictionary, when his finger landed on that phrase while playing a game of "dictionary."
Phil recalls, "Jerry found the name spontaneously when he picked up a dictionary and the pages fell open," "The words 'grateful' and 'dead' appeared straight opposite each other across the crack between the pages in unrelated text."
In the book, "Playing in the Band," Jerry says it went down like this: "We were standing around in utter desperation at Phil's house in Palo Alto trying to think up a name for the band. There was a huge dictionary, big monolithic thing, and I just opened it up. There in huge black letters was 'The Grateful Dead.' It … just cancelled my mind out."
The name stuck, but every now and again we'd have a renaissance of our original moniker to speak only to our tried and true fans. During our East Coast tour in 1989, we billed ourselves as "The Warlocks" at the Hampton Coliseum to ward off a Dead Head invasion of that small Virginia town. We had everyone in cahoots - even the marquee helped keep our little secret. Passersby must have been confused seeing a band they’d most likely never heard of as the headliner. That, of course, was our exact intention.
I remember these shows specifically. We were playing great and the set list contained many of my personal favorites. Fans must have agreed as well, as these shows are often mentioned in the top 5 shows of all time. Thinking about them brings back lots of great memories. Hope it does for you, too.