On this day: December 4, 1965 – The Grateful Dead’s first concert performance under their new name

On December 4, 1965 The Grateful Dead performed their first surreal concert at a house in urban downtown San Jose, California.

Before this they were known as the Warlocks.

The Grateful Dead were one of the driving forces of the psychedelia movement of the 1960s. They experimented with rock, electric and blues music to create their defining sound.

This unique sound of The Grateful Dead was part of what made them so influential on the counter-culture that was rising among the youth of America which soon came to be known as the hippie movement.

The concert was part of Ken Kesey’s (an author whose work became central to the hippie movement) ‘Acid Tests’.

These Acid Tests were essentially parties that involved a surreal concoction of black lights, strobe lights and fluorescent paint.

Their fans, known as “Deadheads” were remarkably renowned for their devotion to the band and were commonly seen travelling across the country to follow the band on tour.

Almost 60 years later The Grateful Dead are one of the most era-defining rock bands, selling over 35 million albums and become a staple of the counter-culture that remains alive in modern rock music. 

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