Chamblee54

The Velvet Warlocks

Posted in History, Library of Congress, Music by chamblee54 on October 4, 2022


PG was listening to disgraceland episode#64, about the grateful dead. He was at a stopping point with multi tasking, and decided to look something up. The show mentioned the first show by the warlocks, later known as the grateful dead. This was 50 years before “dead name” was a dirty word.

“On May 5, 1965 ‘The Warlocks’ … played their first show, at Magoo’s Pizza Parlor in Menlo Park, California” This was the day before PG turned 11. Lyndon Johnson was settling in for his elected term as President. The Braves were playing their lame duck season in Milwaukee. Combat troops had been in Vietnam for a little over two months. This was the start of the escalation. “By the end of 1965, more than 184,000 American troops were in Vietnam.”

Multi tasking is full of pitfalls. Whenever there is a break, you are tempted by facebook and twitter. Like this tweet: “The audio excerpt in this article is incredible: Part of a multi-movement work called “PASSOVER” by Rick Burkhardt. Musicians speak while playing, seated around a dinner table. From the collective @ensemblethingNY” The answer is to make a note of the link. Maybe you go back later and listen. Maybe you don’t. The focus should be on the first entertainment/chore. The dg-gd episode has a half hour to go. UPDATE The audio excerpt is pretty good. It is under seven minutes long. People of a certain age may feel old while listening to it.

At 27:44, dg-gd dropped an item that could not be ignored. The warlocks had to find a new name. Someone else was called the warlocks, and there were complications. It seems as though the warlocks … a pretty obvious name … was also an early name of the velvet underground. Other early vu names included the primitives and the falling spikes.

“When they (vu) finally did come across a name which stuck, it was thanks to a contemporary paperback novel about the secret sexual underworld of the 1960s that Tony Conrad, a friend of John Cale, happened across and showed to the group. The novel, written by Michael Leigh, remains in print most likely thanks to the band which appropriated its title.”… “Had Lou Reed and John Cale not seen a copy of this book in a New York City gutter (fittingly) and decided to use its name for their group, this little volume would have been justly forgotten. Written in a style which titilates while decrying the scene it describes, it’s a piece of blue-nosed junk.”

The rest of the show rolled on. Jerry stuck his finger in a dictionary at random, and found grateful dead. It was the name of a story. The band played at the acid tests, which mostly went well, until they did not. Pigpen drank rotgut to excess, until it killed him.

PG was editing pictures out of a folder labeled pa41. The images were shot by John Vachon,in June 1941. The last picture, while the 27 club end of Pigpen played over the speakers, was Women washing clothes in utility building at FSA (Farm Security Administration) trailer camp. Erie, Pennsylvania. Another picture, from January 1941, is Pinochle game in Czecho-Slovak Dramatic Club. Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Both pictures are included in this feature. This is a repost from 2020.

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