January 28, 2016

The Songs The Warlocks Played

Our musical history of the Grateful Dead has always been missing its first chapter. No live shows by the Warlocks survive, and our earliest Dead tapes come from January 1966, after they'd been playing regularly in the Bay Area for half a year. The only recording we have from 1965 is a six-song studio demo nervously taped for Autumn Records, which emphasizes what was new and original in the Warlocks’ repertoire, their ‘folk-rock’ side and imitations of successful bands, but it hardly represents what they were playing live. (Nor was it supposed to.)

So I’ve gathered what is known about the music of the Warlocks as it developed through 1965. It’s clear a lot of their covers had already been dropped by ’66 as their sets constantly evolved, so we can’t fully recover what a Warlocks show would have sounded like. But there are a lot of memories, from the band and the people who saw them early on, and it’s possible to name a lot of the songs the Warlocks played.

Garcia talked about some of the Warlocks’ inspirations: “Our earliest incarnation was kind of a blues band, in a way. We were kind of patterned along the same lines as the Rolling Stones… Me and Pigpen both had that background in the old Chess Records stuff – Chicago blues like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, and people like Jimmy Reed, Chuck Berry. It was real natural for us, and we even did those kinds of tunes in the jug band. So it was an easy step to make it into sort of a proto-blues band. The Stones were already doing all the old Muddy Waters stuff.
“Remember that old Junior Walker & the All-Stars instrumental ‘Cleo’s Back’? That was also real influential on the Grateful Dead – our whole style of playing. There was something about the way the instruments entered into it in a kind of free-for-all way, and there were little holes and these neat details in it – we studied that motherfucker! We might even have played it for a while, but that wasn’t the point – it was the conversational approach, the way the band worked, that really influenced us.” (1)

‘Cleo’s Back’ was a track off Junior Walker & the All-Stars’ 1965 album Shotgun, which has several instrumental numbers with a similar groove. (The instrumental the Dead played on 3/25/66 isn’t too far removed, though the Dead took a much more frenetic pace. They also stopped playing R&B instrumentals after early ’66.)

Asked about the Warlocks’ repertoire in 1971, Garcia remembered a few songs: “We stole a lot of, at that time, the Kinks, and the Rolling Stones – ‘King Bee,’ ‘Red Rooster,’ ‘Walking the Dog’.... We were just doing hard simple rock & roll stuff, old Chuck Berry stuff – ‘Promised Land,’ ‘Johnny B Goode.’ A couple of songs that I sort of adapted from jug band material – ‘Stealin'’ was one of those, and that tune called ‘Don't Ease Me In’ was our first single, an old ragtime pop Texas song. I don't remember a lot of the other stuff.... Oh yeah, we did ‘It's All Over Now, Baby Blue’ from the very beginning because it was such a pretty song. Weir used to do ‘She's got everything she needs, she don't look back.’” (2)

These songs fall into a few categories:
Kinks songs – Unfortunately, we don’t know any Kinks songs the Warlocks did.
Rolling Stones songs – The Stones were a major inspiration. Though Garcia & Pigpen would certainly have known the original versions of songs like King Bee (Slim Harpo 1957), Little Red Rooster (Howlin’ Wolf 1961), and Walking the Dog (Rufus Thomas 1963), they picked quite a few songs the Stones had done on their first three albums, from which several more Dead covers would be drawn over the years (including Not Fade Away, Around & Around, It’s All Over Now, Pain In My Heart, and the Stones’ original Empty Heart).
Chuck Berry – Garcia had been trying to play Chuck Berry songs since he first got a guitar, and Mother McCree’s had even done Memphis, Tennessee (though no Dead versions are known). So not only are Johnny B Goode and Promised Land among the most-played Dead covers, they are also among the earliest. Johnny B Goode was already an “oldie” from 1958, but Promised Land was then a “new” Chuck Berry song, which had come out in 1964. (In a ‘66 demo, Garcia sings Promised Land – we don’t know who sang Johnny B Goode back then.)
Jugband songs – The Dead made a single of Don’t Ease Me In/Stealin’ later in 1966, but it’s actually hard to say how many of the old jugband songs in Mother McCree’s they continued doing as the Warlocks. Some of the traditional songs may have been revived later on – for instance, there’s no tape evidence of Stealin’ before March ’66, and Don’t Ease Me In doesn’t appear til June ’66. The same lack of early performances is true for other jugband songs as well, which makes me think they weren’t a big part of the Warlocks’ 1965 sets.
Dylan songs – Garcia was turned on to Dylan by Bringing It All Back Home in the spring of ‘65, particularly the closing song: “I thought that was just gorgeous, I thought it was really a lovely sounding song… I played it over and over and over again since it sounded so great.” (3) Weir also got to do a Dylan song from the album – Garcia said, “We used to do ‘She Belongs To Me’ too. Bob used to croon it.” (4)
Though the Dead years later did several songs from Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited album (released in the summer of ’65), there’s no sign that they played them at the time.

One thing Garcia didn’t emphasize was how blues-oriented the Warlocks’ sets must have been – this is something apparent in many of the Dead’s 1966 shows, though their repertoire was always diverse. As Garcia put it, starting the Warlocks “was Pigpen’s idea. He’d been pestering me for a while, he wanted me to start up an electric blues band… In the jug band scene we used to do blues numbers like Jimmy Reed tunes, and even played a couple of rock and roll tunes, and it was just the next step…Theoretically it’s a blues band, but the minute we get electric instruments, it’s a rock and roll band.” (5)

It’s likely that Garcia and Pigpen also picked up a few tunes that they had played in Troy Weidenheimer’s R&B band the Zodiacs a couple years earlier. Eric Thompson recalled, “Troy could not only play exactly like Freddy King, he could move like Freddy King too. During that period, Freddy had his blues song hits in the chitlin’ circuit and his instrumental hits in the frat circuit, and he was playing both kinds of gigs. So that was part of the Troy niche, those instrumental hits Freddy King had – ‘Hideaway,’ ‘San Ho Zay,’ ‘The Stumble.’ …When Jerry got interested in the electric guitar again, he devoured the Freddy King stuff, but he’d already been watching Troy do it, so he already knew a lot about it.” (6)
Pigpen remembered some of the songs the Zodiacs played: “‘Searchin’,’ ‘Walking the Dog,’ ‘Sensation,’ ‘San-Ho-Zay,’ some Jimmy Reed tunes…Coasters tunes…” (7)
Walking the Dog and the Coasters’ 1957 Searchin’ (and several Jimmy Reed songs) would later be played by the Dead as well. Garcia was initially heavily influenced by Freddy King, but aside from later renditions of Hideaway and a solitary ’66 performance of Heads Up, instrumental Freddy King numbers were absent from the Dead’s repertoire. I suspect they had been played more in ’65, though – the Dead were playing a number of blues instrumentals in early ’66 that soon got phased out, which suggests to me that they’d also been part of the ’65 sets.

Several people who saw the Warlocks were most struck by the blues songs. For instance, John Dawson: “[The Warlocks] played at this other club in San Mateo for a while called the Fireside. I heard them a couple times there. That was in the days when Pigpen was playing a lot of blues harmonica and they were trying to be a white blues band.” (8)

Donn Paulk saw the Warlocks at Magoo’s (at the age of ten): “I remember the Warlocks although I can’t recall any of the specific songs they played. I remember several of the songs were instrumentals. Many were bluesy and R&B songs that were popular at the time.” (9)

Philip Brown, another of the kids at Magoo’s, recalled, “I think they did some Stones covers and I know that Pigpen sang ‘Little Red Rooster.’” (10)

When Phil Lesh saw the Warlocks at Magoo’s, he was blown away by Pigpen doing “a slow blues that I recognized from a Stones album – ‘I’m A King Bee.’” (11) “Pigpen ate my mind with the harp, singing the blues.” (12) (He also recalled them doing a couple of “rockers” which he didn’t name.)

One of the rockers would probably have been recognized by everyone in Magoo’s, since it was the Stones’ latest hit, released in March ‘65: “I remember when you were the Warlocks and at Magoo’s you were doing stuff like ‘The Last Time.’” (13)
This song was also important to Phil: “Listening to…‘The Last Time’ got me interested in the bass guitar.” (14) Though Phil couldn’t really distinguish the instruments on the record, his talking about it to Garcia is likely what made Garcia think Phil could play bass for the Warlocks.

There is a very interesting comment on dead.net from a girl who went to school with Bob Weir and went to the first Magoo’s show along with her friends.  
“Sounded wonderful! Jerry, Bobby, Pig, Billy and Dana Morgan on bass. The boys just played through their own amps...they carried their own equipment and set it up and tore it down... I can't remember how the vocal amps worked...maybe the house provided...very small pizza parlor. BIG fun… We had the nerve to bitch at them for SITTING DOWN on stools and turning away from the audience! for a song or two. Can you believe it?… I think the stool and the laid back attitude towards the audience was from their folkie style…
“It is my educated guess they would have played
Cold Rain and Snow
Little Red Rooster for Weir to sing
Off the Hook was a favorite of Jerry's...we showed him the "off the hook" Jagger style
Maybe Toots can remember which Dylan songs they played.
I seem to remember a Beau Brummels song they rehearsed
Young Rascal song...Good Lovin'.” (15)

Although she is as credible a witness as can be found, this song list poses several problems.
Were they actually playing Cold Rain & Snow in May 1965? Our first Dead tape of it is from 3/25/66 – it sounds slow and tentative, and Garcia sings it in a lower key than the Dead later played it (with a different final lyric). To me it sounds like it was new to them, so I’m skeptical that they’d already been playing it in ’65. For that matter, traditional folk songs barely appear in the Warlocks’ known repertoire, with the exception of I Know You Rider.
Our first tape of Good Lovin’ comes from 5/19/66 – fast, rough, and its only known performance for three more years. It’s also played in some spring ’66 demos of new songs, which makes me doubt that they’d done it in ’65, though it’s possible. (Good Lovin’ was released by the Olympics in April ’65, and by the Young Rascals in Feb ’66 – the Dead would have known both versions, and it’s impossible to tell which inspired them to cover the song.)
It’s also hard to believe that Weir would sing Little Red Rooster with Pigpen still in the band (especially since a couple other people remember Pigpen singing it).
The Beau Brummels were a local band on Autumn Records who’d recently had a hit with ‘Laugh Laugh,’ and had their first album out that spring. It would be fascinating to know which song the Warlocks might have rehearsed – it’s not so far-fetched as it seems, since you can hear a little Beau Brummels influence on the Warlocks’ later demo for Autumn Records, on songs like ‘The Only Time Is Now.’
The Warlocks did indeed play the Stones’ ‘Off The Hook,’ from the Feb ’65 “Rolling Stones, Now!” album. Some more info is here, suggesting it debuted around September ’65 (though they could have done it from the start). Garcia sang it:  

McNally summarizes what the Warlocks played early on: “They were a basic cover band, playing Chuck Berry, ‘Stealin’,’ Dylan’s ‘Baby Blue,’ ‘Walkin’ the Dog,’ ‘Wooly Bully,’ and other hits.” (16)
‘Wooly Bully’ was a hit for Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs in June ’65, so the Warlocks would have picked it up after they left Magoo’s. This illustrates another facet of their repertoire: aside from covering their idols, they would also pick up the latest hits off the radio to play, as was standard practice among ‘60s club bands. (Garcia later said they were “doing all the R&B-rock standards,” and "we did pop covers, mostly.") (16.1)  

Sue Swanson, the band’s first fan, attended their early rehearsals even before Phil joined: “Dana Morgan was the bass player then and they used to practice at his father’s store. They did a lot of traditional stuff – ‘I Know You Rider’ and things like that. They would listen to a lot of 45s to learn songs. My job was to change the 45s. ‘Play that part again!’ It was a crummy little phonograph that would sit on the counter at Dana Morgan’s… When Phil came on board he was just learning to play the bass and to sing. I used to hold his music…I’d sit there and hold his music and make faces at him and try to make him laugh.” (17)

Phil says that at his first rehearsal, they did I Know You Rider and King Bee, which the Warlocks had already been doing.
Swanson recalls, “I think the first song Phil ever did with the Warlocks was ‘Do You Believe in Magic.’” (17) (She may mean the first song he sang the lead on.) McNally says that the Warlocks picked up this song after seeing the Lovin’ Spoonful at Mother’s on August 4: “Their hit song ‘Do You Believe in Magic was one of Lesh’s favorites, and became part of the Warlocks’ repertoire.” (18) I don’t think he could have done it earlier, since the song was first released in August ’65.

Dexter Johnson, another acquaintance of Garcia’s, also caught an early rehearsal: “I remember seeing them at some dive over by the railroad tracks playing rhythm & blues. I also remember coming to Dana Morgan’s one afternoon…and they were practicing, and they were doing ‘Money.’ ‘The best things in life are free…’ I didn’t think it was as good as the hit on the radio.” (19) (Money was done by Barrett Strong in 1959, and was covered by lots of bands at the time - the Beatles being the most well-known, but the Kingsmen also had a hit with it in '64.)

Tom Constanten came by later on to see Phil: “I saw one of the Warlocks’ shows at the In Room…doing ‘Wooly Bully,’ ‘Do You Believe in Magic,’ and other songs like that.” (20)

Sara Garcia also saw them at band practices “when they were just getting the band together, playing ‘Gloria’ and some Rolling Stones songs.” (21)
Gloria was a new song by Them (originally released in the UK in ’64), which caught the ears of the Warlocks along with a thousand other garage bands.

By the time they played the In Room, Garcia said, “We were getting a reputation for being the first guys to know the new Rolling Stones tunes... We got to play the hits, we did Rolling Stones tunes...everything else was just the stuff that we liked...weird R&B shit... [We were] developing a reputation and sort of being the Rolling Stones of the peninsula bar bands.” (22)

Kreutzmann also said that in '65, “We played every new Rolling Stones song that'd come out, and Pigpen would sing some blues.” (23)
From Kreutzmann's book: “From the very beginning, we would cover Rolling Stones songs. We'd play stuff like ‘Get Off of My Cloud’ and ‘Satisfaction.’ They were just fun, easy tunes to do in the nightclubs we were playing back then, and that's what the people in those places wanted to hear.” (24)
(Satisfaction was released in June ’65, and Get Off of My Cloud in late September ’65.)

According to Sam Salvo, a bartender at the In Room, “I remember them playing the Rolling Stones song ‘Get Off of My Cloud,’ except they reworded that line to ‘Hey, you, get the fuck off my cow.’” (25) Herb Greene saw them at the In Room, and also remembers this lyric change: “It was actually pretty funny.” (26)

Kreutzmann writes, “At the beginning of the In Room residency, we backed up Cornell Gunther and the Coasters… Gunther brought a musical director with him who doubled as a rhythm guitarist. He tried to teach us the songs in mid-performance – even though we already knew them. He insisted on playing in the band and it was just miserable. We didn’t respond well to somebody sitting there telling us how to do it. The next night, we said, ‘Don’t bring him,’ and we played the songs perfectly because they were so easy.” (27)
McNally has a somewhat more charitable account: “for the first set their rhythm guitarist was a guy named Terry, who taught them the songs. It was not really necessary for Garcia, who loved the Coasters and knew the material.” (28) (Weir, meanwhile, watched Terry closely to learn the chords.)
While the Warlocks must have played quite a few Coasters songs during this stint, they didn’t play very many in later years – I’m A Hog For You Baby was still in their sets in early ’66, but Searchin’ would only rarely turn up years later.

The In Room also saw the birth of the Dead’s jams. Garcia recalled, “We’d do songs and suddenly they’d be ten or fifteen minutes long. Really, the phonograph record is the thing that says, ‘Hey, a song is three minutes long,’ not music itself – certainly not for dancing.” (29)
Garcia and Phil were also inspired by listening to jazz records, but there were more immediate motives. Phil wrote, “We had started out by expanding tunes through extended solos, mainly to make them last longer since there were so few of them.” (30) He took note of Coltrane’s ability to jam out simple song structures, often on just one chord, which suited the Warlocks. (Weir said, “The first thing we learned was to rattle on in one chord change for a while, until we were done punching it around. That was good for me, because I didn’t know many chords.”) (31)

Bob Matthews said that when he saw the Warlocks, “They started extending ‘Gloria’ out to fifteen minutes.” As he explained it, “They were a dance band: people loved to dance to them, and they didn’t like it when the song ended. And the band didn’t like it either, because they’d come up with a groove, and once you’ve got a groove, you go with it… They would start to explore rhythmic variations. And as they’d start to do that, they’d start tripping themselves out.” (32)

Kreutzmann said, “We played extended pieces from the very beginning. We just never thought of stopping; it never crossed any of our minds to play three-minute songs.” (33)
From his book: “The In Room was…where we really first started improvising. We didn’t learn how to get that far-out with our music until the Acid Tests a few months later, but we started jamming…at the In Room. When you have to play all night, every night, and you don’t have a lot of material, you almost have no choice. We learned that we could make one song last an entire set. And nobody really noticed.” (34)
(He admits that some dancers got uncomfortable and “wanted us to quit…[when] we played all these long, long songs”!)

In The Midnight Hour was a new Wilson Pickett song, released in the summer of ’65, that quickly became a focus for the Dead’s jams. Phil recalled, “It was at the In Room that we first played one song for an entire 45-minute set…’In The Midnight Hour.’” (35)
Soon the song was a Warlocks standard. Peter Albin “saw them at Pierre’s on Broadway…playing rock ‘n’ roll music and ‘In The Midnight Hour.’” (36) At the Palo Alto Acid Test, Denise Kaufman (a Prankster) “remembers them playing…‘In The Midnight Hour.’” (37) It would continue to be a frequent set-closer in ’66.

Lesh remembers the Warlocks starting to jam out Viola Lee Blues around this time, but I’m not sure they were playing it yet. Our rehearsal tape of this song is definitely from late January ’66, and they’re working on a vocal arrangement and making changes to it in a way that indicates to me they hadn’t been playing it live before. (Though they may have had a different arrangement.) So I suspect this is one example of a revamped jugband song often thought to have been played in ’65 that actually wasn’t worked up until ’66.

Ron Rakow says when he first saw them at the Fillmore, “They played ‘Viola Lee Blues’ and it had a chaos section in it.” (38) I think his memory here was a bit off – even if they were doing Viola Lee a little earlier, it hardly had “a chaos section” at that point. A listen to the early ’66 tapes easily disproves the notion that the Dead were already doing wild psychedelic jams at the Acid Tests, though they were certainly doing long solos and some extended basic jams.

According to Phil, at the Muir Beach Acid Test, they played Death Don’t Have No Mercy “for the first time” (39) – this may not be precise, but they gave another assured performance on 1/8/66. This demonstrates both the Dead’s fondness for electric blues (Rev. Gary Davis’ original was acoustic, but they translated it into a standard blues-rock format, as many bands were doing to various blues songs), and their odd desire to play a dire death song to audiences freaked out on acid. (In fact I wonder if their new name change to the Grateful Dead inspired this song choice!)
In any case, the Pranksters were not at all alarmed, since Phil remembers Kesey and Babbs in front of the band during this song, “sweating like pigs, jaws dropped with raving enthusiasm and affirmation in their faces…I sort of figured we were onto something.” (40)

Rock Scully was famously struck by the newly renamed Dead at the Acid Tests: “Pigpen was the driving force. He had the songs together. He was doing blues like ‘Little Red Rooster.’” (41)
Scully recalled in his book, “Most of the songs they do are covers and most of the covers are blues. They do ‘Little Red Rooster’ and a lot of numbers that the early Stones used to do…plus some folk blues and plain old coffeehouse folk chestnuts like ‘I Know You Rider’… ‘In The Midnight Hour’…is stretched out for a quarter of an hour or more before modulating into ‘Early Morning Rain.’” (42)
‘Early Morning Rain’ was a brand new folk-rock entry in the Warlocks’ sets – Peter Paul & Mary had it in the charts in October ’65, though the Warlocks could have taken it from Ian & Sylvia’s album, also released that year. (Phil later played part of Ian & Sylvia's 1964 album Northern Journey on a radio show, so he was a fan of theirs.)

To back up a bit, by October ’65, the Warlocks had started writing some original songs.
Phil wrote, “We had also started to collaborate on some original material, since the general consensus was that we’d never evolve very far if we just kept covering other people’s stuff. [This must have been reinforced when in October, the Family Dog rejected the Warlocks for a dance because they were only a covers band.] We had learned a lot from listening to the Rolling Stones, going so far as to cover some of their covers, and Bob Dylan’s songs were a major source of inspiration, as well as material for our sets… [But our original songs] were embarrassingly amateurish, so they didn’t last long in the repertoire.” (43)

The Warlocks came up with four new songs in 1965, which were played in the November ’65 studio demos and (except for Caution) didn’t last in their live sets past early ‘66:

Mindbender (credited to Garcia/Lesh) – Weir said, “Phil wrote most of the lyrics – we all contributed a little bit.” (44)  

Can’t Come Down (credited to Garcia/Grateful Dead) – Weir said, “We wrote all the music and Jerry wrote the lyrics. Jerry excused himself for a moment and went off. He came back with a couple of verses and we put together a chorus.” (45)  
Garcia’s lyrics in this song were evidently Dylan-inspired. He later said, “I’m really a jive lyricist. My lyrics come from right now – put pencil on paper, and what comes out, if it fits, it fits. I didn’t think about them, I just made the first, obvious choices and never rewrote. It took me a long time to sing them out, because they embarrassed me.” (46)

The Only Time Is Now (credited to Garcia/Dave Parker) – I don’t think the Dead ever commented on this one, but according to David Nelson, “the lyrics for "The Only Time Is Now" were written by David Parker. Parker wrote another lyric, but Nelson couldn't remember which song.” (Per David Gans.) (47)

Apparently this wasn’t the only song where the Warlocks used a friend’s lyrics. Garcia said of his friend Willy Legate: “He even wrote some lyrics to some of our early songs before we started recording, but we’ve subsequently stopped doing the tunes.” (48) It’s hard to say which songs these could have been; maybe it was just a few lines. Possibly other Warlocks songs might have been dropped so quickly they never got recorded.

Caution (credited originally just to McKernan; now to Grateful Dead) – Weir said, “How the ‘Caution’ jam developed is we were driving around listening to the radio, like we used to do a lot, and the song ‘Mystic Eyes’ by Them was on, and we were all saying, 'Check this out! We can do this!' So we got to the club where we were playing and we warmed up on it. We lifted the riff from ‘Mystic Eyes’ and extrapolated it into ‘Caution’, and I think Pigpen just made up the words.” (49) 
Given that Tom Donahue was a DJ, I’m sure the staff at Autumn Records noticed that Caution was basically a cover of Mystic Eyes with different words. Phil has a variant account in his book, saying that Caution is just based on the rhythm of a train – a misdated but colorful story, and maybe a little bit true. After all, they did label the song after a railroad sign, ‘Do Not Stop On Tracks.’ McNally calls it “their first song,” and says it was partly inspired by the train tracks near the In Room. (50)

Caution seems not to have been played very often in ’66 (only two performances survive), but it outlasted the other Warlocks songs which were replaced by new originals. Looking at the lyrics, it’s easy to see each song was written by a different person since they’re strikingly different from each other – from the start, Warlocks songs were a communal project, since there was no ‘songwriter’ in the group.

Later in ’66, Garcia talked a little about how the Dead handled the songs in their sets –
Garcia: We try to never repeat a song twice in the same night…
Kreutzmann: We never do.
Weir: Never have done that.
Garcia: In fact, that’s been our policy all along, and we decided to not take any jobs until we can do a full night anywhere, five sets, ten sets, however many sets we had to do, and not repeat anything. So we’ve got a lot of material. Sometimes it goes through these changes where we do one song more than we do others, because we start to get into it, and then we’ll maybe put it aside for a while and work on some other ones. (51) 

Many of the covers the Warlocks played in ’65 were set aside after the Acid Tests, never to be played again – but a few were revived in later years. While we can’t reconstruct the full repertoire of the Warlocks, there are some other songs they are likely to have played – for instance, It’s All Over Now (from the Stones’ second album), Big Boy Pete (from the Olympics’ 1960 version), possibly Around & Around (Chuck Berry 1958, via the Stones), or maybe even Louie Louie (most famous from the Kingsmen’s 1963 version, but done by just about every garage band at the time).

Other songs the Dead later covered were definitely not done by the Warlocks in ’65 – for instance, Gimme Some Lovin’ (by the Spencer Davis Group) wasn’t released til the fall of ’66; and the Beatles’ Day Tripper only came out in December ’65. In any case, despite the Dead’s later fondness for Beatles covers, the Warlocks seem to have avoided playing Beatles songs. This must have been deliberate, considering that the Warlocks loved the Beatles’ films, and Weir in particular was a big fan. As Garcia later said, “In the Grateful Dead's earliest version as a bar band, the option was to play Beatles stuff or Rolling Stones, and we always opted for whatever the Stones were doing – because we had a better understanding of where the music was coming from.” (52)
David Browne writes, "They tried some of Pigpen's favorite blues songs or Rolling Stones or Everly Brothers covers - almost everything except the Beatles. 'They were untouchable,' said Weir." (52.1) 
(Scully’s book claimed that they played Good Day Sunshine at an Acid Test, but this is impossible since it wasn’t released til August ’66.)
It's interesting that Everly Brothers songs are mentioned - a detail that may come from one of the Warlocks' friends. The Dead would occasionally break out some Everly Brothers tunes later in '69-70, but this is one side of the Warlocks that has been unsuspected.

The Dead were constantly adding songs to their repertoire in early ’66, making it difficult to tell which songs they’d already been doing for a while. Some songs you’d think date from the earliest days were only introduced later – for instance, Viola Lee Blues was evidently a new addition in January ’66. Also, they didn’t start playing Good Morning Little Schoolgirl until spring ’66, after the Los Angeles trip. Garcia recalled, “We didn’t get ‘Good Morning Little Schoolgirl’ from Muddy Waters or whoever. Our version came from Buddy Guy and Junior Wells [the Hoodoo Man Blues album, released in November ‘65]. I remember listening to that record endlessly when we were down in LA. There was something really snaky about it, so we went with that approach, which was sort of a different feel and a different melody even.” (53)

Blair Jackson lists a number of songs presumably played by the Warlocks – many of them carried over from the jugband – but in most cases it’s hard to say whether they actually did, or if the songs were revived later in ‘66. Some examples:
Stealin’ – first recorded 3/2/66
Don’t Ease Me In – first recorded June ’66
Overseas Stomp (aka Lindy) – 11/29/66
The Rub (aka Ain’t It Crazy) – 4/18/70 (Pigpen had played this back in 1964.)
Big Boss Man – Feb/March ‘66
Smokestack Lightning – 11/19/66 (but referred to in an October ’66 article as “now performed only by special request,” so it was played earlier but always a rare tune) (54)

The jugband songs appear to be so infrequently played (Stealin’ is the only one that appears even a handful of times on our ’66 tapes), I don’t think they were a big part of the 1965 setlists either. The Warlocks cast aside most of the songs that had been played by Mother McCree’s in favor of the new, the bluesy, and the rockin’, so there may not have been that much continuity between a jugband set and a Warlocks set.

McNally mentions some new songs added to their setlist in January ’66, but unfortunately names the wrong songs: “In addition to Chuck Berry, the jug material, Pig’s blues tunes, and the originals, they’d added a couple of covers – Bobby Bland’s ‘Turn On Your Lovelight’ and the Olympics/Young Rascals’ ‘Good Lovin’’ – and three more originals: ‘You Can’t Catch Me,’ ‘The Monster,’ and ‘Otis on a Shakedown Cruise.’” (55)
The Dead didn’t play Lovelight until mid-1967; Good Lovin’ was apparently added sometime in spring ’66; ‘The Monster’ (aka Cardboard Cowboy) is first heard in the June ’66 studio sessions; and there’s no known original called ‘You Can’t Catch Me,’ which may be confused for the 1956 Chuck Berry song (which they might have played, and was also covered by the Stones).
‘Otis on a Shakedown Cruise’ (aka You Don’t Have To Ask) was the only original song that definitely debuted in January ’66. Garcia recalled, “I think we started it in San Francisco, but we worked it up in LA. It was kind of an R&B thing that had changes that worked a little bit like ‘Get Off My Cloud’ or ‘Louie Louie,’ maybe a little more complicated. It was a straight-ahead 4/4, it wasn’t a shuffle; which was unusual for us in those days, since we played mostly shuffles. It was a pretty good tune, but we threw it out at some point…because we went on to other stuff.” (56) (Scully thought “Pig and Jerry mainly put it together,” but I’m doubtful of that since Pigpen’s role is minimal.)

Starting in January ‘66, we have actual setlists from a number of the Dead’s shows, helping to give us a sample of what they were playing at least at the end of 1965. (57)

Mindbender (1/7/66, 2/6/66?)
Can’t Come Down (1/7/66)
The Only Time Is Now (1/7/66, 2/6/66?)
Caution (1/8/66)

Covers – old songs/blues: 
On the Road Again (1/7/66) – Memphis Jug Band 1928; had been played by the jugband in ’64.
Death Don’t Have No Mercy (1/7/66, 1/8/66) – from Rev. Gary Davis
Parchman Farm (1/7/66) – from either Bukka White or Mose Allison
I’m A King Bee (1/8/66) – Slim Harpo 1957/Rolling Stones 1964
I Know You Rider (1/28/66?) – folk traditional

Covers – new songs:
All Of My Love (1/13/66) – probably Buddy Holly’s ‘Oh Boy’ 1957
I’m A Hog For You Baby (1/8/66, 1/13/66) – The Coasters 1959
I’ll Go Crazy (1/7/66) – James Brown 1960
Midnight Hour (1/7/66, 1/28/66?) – Wilson Pickett 1965
Early Morning Rain (1/7/66) – probably from Ian & Sylvia or Peter Paul & Mary 1965
She Belongs To Me (1/7/66) – Bob Dylan 1965
It’s All Over Now Baby Blue (1/7/66) – Bob Dylan 1965

Some different songs also start to appear, especially starting in February ‘66, some of which may or may not have been played earlier in ’65.

Viola Lee Blues (1/28/66?) – jugband song
You Don’t Have To Ask (1/28/66?) – new band original
Tastebud (2/6/66?) – Pigpen blues original
One Kind Favor (2/6/66?) – old blues traditional
Beat It On Down The Line (2/6/66?) – had been played by the jugband in ’64.
Twist and Shout (2/12/66) – Isley Brothers, 1962, and famously covered by the Beatles; but the Dead’s cover isn’t very straight and owes more to Ritchie Valen’s ‘La Bamba.’

While the band were in Los Angeles in February & March, they recorded a number of demos – some may be new covers, others were songs they’d been doing already. Several of these start showing up in our March live tapes, but some of them are unheard outside of these demos. It’s anyone’s guess whether more than a few of these had been played back in ’65.

You See a Broken Heart (new Pigpen original)
Stealin’ (Memphis Jug Band 1928)
Betty & Dupree (blues traditional – Pigpen sang it in 1964)
One Kind Favor (blues traditional)
Big Boss Man (Jimmy Reed 1960)
Beat It On Down The Line (Jesse Fuller 1961)
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Bob Dylan 1965)
Promised Land (Chuck Berry 1964)
Walkin’ the Dog (Rufus Thomas 1963/Rolling Stones 1964)
Not Fade Away (Buddy Holly 1957, but the Dead’s ’66 version is closer to the Stones’ cover)
Who Do You Love (Bo Diddley 1956)

Also recorded were instrumental jams of It’s A Sin (Jimmy Reed, 1959), La Bamba (Ritchie Valens, 1959), and a brief bit of the The Spider and the Fly (Rolling Stones, 1965).

Some more songs appear in the March ’66 shows we have – the instrumental Heads Up (Freddy King, 1961), and what I believe were new to the Dead’s repertoire, Next Time You See Me (Junior Parker, 1957), Hey Little One (Dorsey Burnette 1960) and Cold Rain & Snow (traditional, derived from Obray Ramsey). Two of these promptly became Dead standards played at almost every show, so I suspect their absence on earlier tapes indicates they weren’t being played yet.
By the time we get to spring ’66 and the return to San Francisco, a flood of new songs were being added to the Dead’s sets; and I think it’s unlikely that any song that first appears after this point had been played in ’65, though we can’t say for sure. (The Rare Cuts & Oddities collection has unique live performances of the jugband song Big Railroad Blues, and the Stones’ song Empty Heart; but without the context of the rest of the show, I couldn’t guess the date, let alone how long the Dead had been playing them.)

Scully recalled that one reason the Dead went to LA was because “we didn’t have our own songs. We needed to go somewhere and work on songs… I didn’t want them playing around for a while because they’d used up their book. They had, like, four sets and it was almost all old covers. They had a couple of originals.” (58) But I don’t trust this explanation – Scully had little influence with the Dead at this point, having just met them; they were quite capable of woodshedding in San Francisco adding songs as they went, as they normally did; and almost every song they worked on in LA was another old cover – in fact, few more originals would appear that year. Rather than writing many new songs, the Dead spent the rest of ’66 mostly finding more blues and folk songs to cover.

Lastly, Deadbase has a list of “More Warlocks Songs” (59) – mostly songs already mentioned here, but a few of them I don’t have any source for:

Alley Oop (rehearsed) – Hollywood Argyles, 1960
Hully Gully – Olympics, 1959 (the Dead later played on 10/16/81)
Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan, 1965
My Babe – Little Walter, 1955 (the Dead later played on 11/8/70)
New Orleans – Gary US Bonds, 1960 (played a few times in later years)

I’ll also be glad to hear any rumors or memories of other songs the Warlocks might have played!

Here our investigation ends. For a look at how the Dead’s repertoire evolved through 1966-67, see:


1. Jackson, “Pigpen Forever,” Golden Road 1993, p.50
2. Signpost to New Space, p.13
3. Jerry on Jerry, p.109
4. Tom Donahue radio show, April ‘67
5. Signpost, p.12-13
6. Jackson, Garcia, p.66
7. “Pigpen Forever,” p.46
8. Troy, One More Saturday Night, p.166
9. Deadbase XI review, p.241
11. Lesh, Searching for the Sound, p.46
12. Gans, Conversations with the Dead, p.109
13. Randy Groenke, March ’67 Garcia interview
14. Lesh, p.43
16. McNally, Long Strange Trip, p.82
16.5 Jackson, p.77 / "Still Truckin'," New Yorker 10/11/93 
17. “Pigpen Forever,” p.48 
18. McNally, p.86
19. Greenfield, Dark Star, p.63
20. Greenfield, p.63 [‘Wooly Bully’ misquoted as ‘Roly Poly.’]
21. Greenfield, p.67
22. Jerry on Jerry, p.106
23. This Is All A Dream We Dreamed, p.17-18
24. Kreutzmann, Deal, p.34
25. Richardson, No Simple Highway, p.51
26. Browne, So Many Roads, p.79
27. Kreutzmann, Deal, p.34
28. McNally, p.89
29. Dream, p.18
30. Lesh, p.59
31. McNally, p.92
32. Dream, p.17
33. Dream, p.17
34. Kreutzmann, p.34
35. Lesh, p.58
36. Greenfield, p.68
37. Browne, p.96
38. Greenfield, p.79
[Note: Rakow says he was invited by Scully to “the second Mime Troupe benefit at the Fillmore.” This was most likely the third benefit, on 1/14/66.]
39. McNally, p.116
40. McNally p.116 – see also Lesh, p.68
41. Greenfield, p.74
42. Scully, Living with the Dead, p.10
[Note: Scully’s recollection shouldn’t be taken as being from a single show. There is some confusion over Scully’s first show: Jackson & McNally say the 1/8/66 Fillmore Acid Test was his first, but Browne puts him at the 12/18/65 Palo Alto Acid Test. Scully’s book is rather mixed up – he says at “the beginning of December 1965” he was at the California Hall promoting a Family Dog show (the Charlatans & the Airplane, 1/8/66), but went that same night to a Mime Troupe benefit at the Fillmore (1/14/66), then was taken by Owsley the next night to the Big Beat Acid Test (12/18/65, which Owsley most likely didn’t attend). See also Greenfield, p.74-75, for a similar, less exaggerated account from Scully. I believe he first saw them at the 12/18/65 event, and then at one or both of the January ’66 Fillmore shows (probably the one on 1/14), and they all ran together in his memory. In any case, his book has a number of setlist descriptions from early ’66, but they're equally scrambled – he knew very well what songs the Dead played in that period, but they can’t be matched to specific shows.]
43. Lesh, p.38
44. http://www.whitegum.com/introjs.htm?/songfile/MINDBEND.HTM
Jackson suggests that 'Mindbender' was musically based on Johnny Rivers' 'Secret Agent Man,' which was then the theme song for the TV show "Secret Agent." I don't think the resemblance is that strong:
46. McNally, p.97
48. Steve Weitzman, April ‘76 Garcia interview
49. “Pigpen Forever,” p.49 
50. McNally, p.92 – see also Lesh, p.91
51. KFRC interview, November ‘66. (Garcia continues: "When we get on stage, we usually don’t make up sets beforehand, we usually just have our list of songs, our book of material you know, and onstage we decide what to do because something might seem appropriate at the moment, and we’d rather work off the top of our heads than off a piece of paper.")  
52. Jackson, Grateful Dead Gear, p.10
52.1 Browne, p.79
53. “Pigpen Forever,” p.52
54. “San Francisco Bay Rock,” Crawdaddy, October ’66
55. McNally, p.120
56. “Pigpen Forever,” p.51
57. The dates of some shows are uncertain – see http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2014/05/the-1966-mystery-reels-guest-post.html
58. “Pigpen Forever,” p.51
(See also Greenfield, p.80-81, for a similar account from Scully: "We decided to get out of town because we really didn't have enough material. We'd waste ourselves playing around San Francisco with the same songs because they really only had one set together. They could do blues forever but already Garcia was the driving force to get new material together. It was his idea and Owsley's...that we bail out of town... I was supposed to get them to a place where they could get more songs together rather than work them to death in pizza pubs. That was when we went to LA... The idea was that I would put together gigs down there for the new material. Jerry had this thing about playing new material in front of live audiences, which would change how the song developed." The story about having to go to LA to practice new songs in front of different audiences doesn't quite make sense, but that's how Scully saw it.) 
59. Deadbase XI, p.565

* * *


A songlist written by Pigpen has recently been discovered:

At first glance, this seems to be the setlist for a Warlocks show....but is it? Let's look at the songs:

BIG BOSS MAN - Jimmy Reed 1960 (played frequently by the Dead from '66 on)
MOJO - probably GOT MY MOJO WORKING, Muddy Waters 1957 (later played by the Dead twice in '77/78)
GOT SOMETHIN' - maybe MY BABY'S GOT SOMETHIN', John Lee Hooker 1950
ROCK & ROLL MUSIC - Chuck Berry 1957 (also covered on "Beatles '65," released Dec. 1964)
SCHOOL DAYS - Chuck Berry 1957
WHO DO YOU LOVE - Bo Diddley 1956 (recorded by the Dead in '66)
I'M A MAN - Bo Diddley 1955 [the Yardbirds' version wasn't released in the US until fall 1965]
YOU'VE GOT ME DIZZY - Jimmy Reed 1956
(THERE IS) SOMETHING ON YOUR MIND - Big Jay McNeely 1959/Bobby Marchan 1960 (played by the Dead in '66)
HOLD ON TO WHAT YOU GOT - probably Joe Tex single, released Nov. 1964
TRY ME - probably James Brown 1958
THAT'LL BE THE DAY - Buddy Holly 1957 (played once by the Dead in a '75 rehearsal)
HEART OF STONE - Rolling Stones single released Dec. 1964
WHAT A SHAME - Rolling Stones B-side released Dec. 1964
TIME - probably TIME IS ON MY SIDE, Rolling Stones single released Sep. 1964
WALKIN' THE DOG - Rufus Thomas 1963 (also covered on the Rolling Stones' first US album, 1964) (played occasionally by the Dead in later years)
MONEY - Barrett Strong 1959 (also covered on "The Beatles' Second Album," 1964)
NOT FADE AWAY - Buddy Holly 1957 (also covered on the Rolling Stones' first US album, 1964) (recorded by the Dead in '66, played frequently in later years)
TWIST N' SHOUT - Top Notes 1961/Isley Brothers 1962 (also covered by the Beatles, released on a US single 1964) (kind of played by the Dead in '66)
(GHOST) RIDERS IN THE SKY - Burl Ives 1949/many instrumental guitar versions starting with the Ramrods 1961 (members of the Dead played it in a studio jam, 1971)
(I KNOW) IT'S A SIN - Jimmy Reed 1958 (later played by the Dead starting in '66)
I'LL FOLLOW THE SUN - "Beatles '65," released Dec. 1964
YOU CAN'T CATCH ME - Chuck Berry 1956 (also covered on "Rolling Stones Now," released Feb. 1965)
THIS LITTLE GIRL - probably THIS LITTLE GIRL OF MINE, Ray Charles 1955 (but another "This Little Girl" was also released by Stevie Wonder 1964)
YOU CAN'T DO THAT - "The Beatles' Second Album," 1964 (& B-side to "Can't Buy Me Love")
HONEST I DO - Jimmy Reed 1957 (also covered on the Rolling Stones' first US album, 1964)
BOOM BOOM - John Lee Hooker 1962
CAN'T BUY ME LOVE - Beatles single, 1964
BABY'S IN BLACK - "Beatles '65," released Dec. 1964
[...] LIGHTS - probably BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY, Jimmy Reed 1961

Only ten of these songs are known to have been played later by the Dead (and most of those only once or twice). Already by late '65 their repertoire had changed completely. Nonetheless, most of these songs come from known Dead influences, and a few did become part of the later repertoire, so the list likely was made for the Warlocks. But when?
One thing that immediately strikes me is that all of these songs were released before 1965. While a couple of these were also issued on 1965 albums, there's a glaring absence of any of the hit songs of that year that we know were played by the Warlocks (like 'The Last Time,' released March '65). So the list likely precedes any known Warlocks shows. It's after December '64 (a number of songs were taken from the new Beatles album that month) but probably not later than February '65 (when "The Rolling Stones Now!" album came out). 
I also have doubts whether this was an actual setlist, or simply a list of songs written for some other reason (for rehearsal?). The order of songs sometimes seems to follow more of a stream of consciousness rather than the order they'd be played in (for instance, several Chuck Berry songs in a row, followed by some Bo Diddley, followed by several slow soul songs, followed by several Stones covers, followed by a series of rockers).
The list also lacks quite a few things we'd expect in a Warlocks show: there are no folk or jugband songs at all - none of the songs we know they played in Mother McCree's - and there are fewer (and different) Stones songs than they'd end up playing over the next year. There's also a surprising lack of the older 'deep blues' songs they would adopt (like King Bee, Little Red Rooster, etc). Of course Dylan's missing, and it also looks like there are no original songs listed here: this is strictly for a cover band. There's no way to know who was supposed to sing most of these songs, but quite a few of the titles seem to be for Pigpen to sing.
And other than a few blues & soul selections, the source selection isn't too diverse:
Rolling Stones - 7 songs
The Beatles - 7 songs
Jimmy Reed - 5 songs
Chuck Berry - 4 songs
And John Lee Hooker, Bo Diddley & Buddy Holly tie at two songs each. (The Beatles & Stones totals include duplicate covers of the earlier artists; the Warlocks would have known the originals, but most likely picked some of these covers because they'd been popularized by the English groups.)

For the most part, this looks like a list of songs that Pigpen was picking for the group, possibly before they even played any shows, and it might not include many songs that the others were already singing. Of course they all shared a love of these tunes, and some of them Garcia or Weir might have chosen (it's hard to imagine Pigpen belting out 'I'll Follow the Sun'), but they aren't digging too deep in the record stacks for songs to cover here. I get a sense from this list of a more limited, less wide-ranging and diverse group than they would soon become.