Origins of the name "Grateful Dead"

Discussion in 'Music' started by goldmund, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. goldmund

    goldmund Member

    Over the years I've heard lots of stories about how the dead got their name. Yesterday I was reading another interview where Jerry casually recounts the familiar tale that they needed to find a new name because they heard another band was also using the name "The Warlocks". They pull out Phil's dictionary, flip open the page, and blamo! There are the words "Grateful Dead". Many stories I've heard/read recount this as happening under the influence of DMT, the other words simply melted off of the page, etc. According to this interview, they didn't even like the name, but it just sorta stuck. Contrast and juxtiposition, enough to repel the casual onlooker and parents alike.

    Apparently, the dictionary that they used defined it as a folk tale about a wanderer who comes accross a dead man villagers refused to bury on account of his debt. The stranger pulled a coin out of his pocket to cover his burial. A few hours later, the stranger meets a man on the road who bestows upon him incredible wealth. The man turned out to be the one the stranger paid to bury.

    A quote from the Egyptian Book of the Dead:

    "We now return our souls to the creator, as we stand on the edge of eternal darkness. Let our chant fill the void in order that others may know. In the land of the night the ship of the sun is drawn by the grateful dead."

    For some reason, in the 11 years that I have really been into the dead, I have never read that fantastic quote.

    So, did the boys consciously choose a name with a double meaning, both of which playfully acknowledge their role, or was it syncronicity?

  2. RainbowCat

    RainbowCat Senior Member

    i actaully only heard THIS ONE! the ejyptian one. i heard it from peple AND from the 1960's trivia game! :)
  3. madcrappie

    madcrappie crazy fish

    also, I would like to add that they were known as the Warlocks, before they became the grateful dead. and at the same time, there was a band on the east coast with the exact same name (the warlocks) and that was whom?? do you know?? :D
  4. RainbowCat

    RainbowCat Senior Member

    no, i dont know, but i knew about the warlocks thing (the grateful dead being called them)
  5. goldmund

    goldmund Member

    They also played as "Formerly The Warlocks" in Hampton, VA, 10/8-9/89, after being banned from playing as the Grateful Dead there. Too bad they couldn't do that in SF and Eugene. :(
  6. dedhead95

    dedhead95 The Wizard of Rhythm

    There were two that I know of, one was zz top and the other was velvet underground...pretty sure
  7. madcrappie

    madcrappie crazy fish

    velvet underground was the answer.

    Im not sure about zztop. (zztop isnt an east coast band, anyways, they are from texas)
  8. dedhead95

    dedhead95 The Wizard of Rhythm

    i know that, I was just saying the other band
  9. madcrappie

    madcrappie crazy fish

    I havent seen any information about zztop having "the warlocks" as a former name. they were formed in 1970 after two bands faltered. that was billy gibbons band, The moving sidewalks. and Hill and Beards band, American Blues. even if they did have the name the warlocks, it was after the VU and the dead used it pre-67. I was asking who had the name at the same time.

    Id like to see some info if it is true that they used that name though.
  10. Rhythmdevil

    Rhythmdevil Member

    Yeah, I remember reading it was the band that later became ZZ Top, but it might also be Velvet Underground. I also read that Egyptian thing of how the "Grateful Dead" came to be.
  11. goldmund

    goldmund Member

    Said on a site that i went to that they were know alternately as the Warlocks and the Falling Spikes, but by mid1965, they had settled on the name The Velvet Underground.
    Interesting stuff.
  12. headymoechick

    headymoechick I have no idea

    they pulled out the dictionary and there the name was. the story under the name was about a man who came across people pissing on a dead man's corpse because he owed them money. he pays the debt for him and meets up with some stranger on down the road and they become best friends and have wonderful times and he realizes that it was the ghost of the man he paid the debt of. There are many variations of that story, but the general message is always the same.

    I have heard that ZZ Top had the name the warlocks but changed it. I think that ZZ top also had that name at one point, but Velvet Underground was the band that made them change their name because it was taken.
  13. madcrappie

    madcrappie crazy fish

    I want to see some info people. not heresay.
  14. madcrappie

    madcrappie crazy fish

    Im not discrediting you all or nothing....... but around the time VU were known as the velvet underground, billy gibbons was nowhere near hill and beard. he had his own group which opened up for jimi hendrix at the time. this was around 67-69. I would believe that one of the members of zztop had a band that was named that, but not the original zztop. if it was zztop, it had to be around 69 or 70, which is long after the dead and the VU used the name.
  15. madcrappie

    madcrappie crazy fish

    exactly. and at the same time (in 1965) the grateful dead were known as the warlocks, until jerry came up with the new name. they both were using the same name at the same time, and they were both on different coasts, and both bands pretty much started their own revolution in music, both were innovators, and had influenced countless bands. both of the bands first albums were released in early 67. the grateful dead outlasted the VU, though.
  16. goldmund

    goldmund Member

    talk about sycronicity! still, the word is common enough, esp. for those dabbling with certain substances.

    I am suprized that Jerry never mentioned it when they asked him about the name. He always says that there was this other band, yes, but he just kinda shruggs it off!

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