.Valley of the Dead: Menlo Park

How to connect to the history of the Grateful Dead without a ticket.Here are the places where history happened.

Magoo’s Pizza

Magoo’s Pizza Menlo Park

635 Santa Cruz Ave.

The Warlocks played their very first show at Magoo’s Pizza back in May of 1965. They went on to play every Wednesday that month. The location is now a “California lifestyle” furniture store called Harvest.

Guitars Unlimited

1035 El Camino Real

Ditching Dana Morgan Jr. meant severing ties with his dad’s store—and all the pro-bono equipment rentals. It also effectively ended Garcia and Weir’s tenure as guitar and banjo instructors there. And so, the pair headed to north up El Camino to Guitars Unlimited in Menlo Park, bringing their roster of loyal students with them. It didn’t take long before The Warlocks were once again borrowing equipment from their new employer.

Kepler’s Books

935 El Camino Real

In addition to providing Garcia and Weir with a steady income and providing their band with quality gear on the cheap, working out of Guitars Unlimited came with another major perk—proximity to Kepler’s Books. “I think Kepler’s was a really important place,” says Nicholas Meriwether, archivist for the Grateful Dead archive at UC Santa Cruz. The store, Meriwether explains, served as a hub for the South Bay’s bohemian intelligentsia. Unlike other “stuffy” book stores, Kepler’s served coffee and allowed patrons to lounge around—reading books, writing, playing music or conversing. And they carried books that appealed to their counter culturists clientele. Like City Lights Books in San Francisco, Kepler’s served as a locus for artists, beats and intellectuals. “Kepler’s exercised a pretty profound impact on things.”

Menlo Park VA

795 Willow Road

The Menlo Park Veterans Administration Hospital is where Ken Kesey first took LSD and other psychedelic substances. While studying at Stanford in 1959, Kesey volunteered to take part in the CIA-funded “Project MKULTRA,” which studied the effects of acid, psilocybin and mescaline on human subjects. He would go on to pen One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, which he claimed was inspired by his experiences at the Menlo Park VA. Later, Meriwether notes, Kesey would become “the catalyst for the Acid Tests.”

Intro | Palo Alto | Menlo Park | Stanford | San Jose | Los Gatos | Santa Cruz

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