The Grateful Dead & The Merry Pranksters


Works Cited
The Acid Test Files. OBIE, 9 June 2006. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. This website gave a detailed record of Kesey’s Acid Tests. The acid tests were parties that Kesey would host where everyone would take LSD and then listen to music and watch light shows. Kesey’s band would play, but The Grateful Dead was the house band beginning in 1965. The still went by the Warlocks when Kesey enlisted them.

Dodgson, Rick. “Kesey Biographical Sketch.” Merry Prankster History Project. N.p., 18 Jan. 2001. Web. 26 Feb. 2011. This page was a detailed biography of Ken Kesey and his group the Merry Pranksters. Kesey attended Stanford University’s creative writing program, and he married his high school sweetheart while there. After he published One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, he and his Pranksters traveled in a painted school bus and decided to make a documentary of their travels. The trip made the group realize that they could have fun and make an impact at the same time by acting out their drug induced fantasies. Kesey died on November 10, 2001.

“General History.” The History of the Grateful Dead. N.p., 16 Apr. 1998. Web. 25 Feb. 2011. This website provided a timeline of the Grateful Dead’s music career. The initial band consisted of Jerry Garcia, Bill Kruetzman, and Bob Weir one of Garcia’s music students. They soon added Ron McKernan, a.k.a. Pig Pen, and he convinced them to become an electric band. They started out as The Warlocks but changed their name to The Grateful Dead after they began performing at Ken Kesey’s acid tests. They released their first album in 1967, and kept recording and performing until 1995 after the death of Jerry Garcia.

Gilmore, Mikal. Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents. New York: Free Press, 2008. Print. This book was about people and events that were important to the 1960s, specifically Ken Kesey and The Grateful Dead. It mentioned how The Grateful Dead was something new in an industry that was not dominated by rock music. The front man for the band was Jerry Garcia, and he encouraged his listeners to participate in not only the music, but the Drug use as well. It talked about Kesey’s acid tests, and his use of LSD with his Merry Pranksters. It also talked about the bus they would travel in to promote the acid tests.

“Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.” 60s. University of Virginia, 16 Dec. 2009. Web. 24 Feb. 2011. This website provided a brief overview of Ken Kesey’s career and his group the Merry Pranksters. Kesey participated in government drug testing, where he would take a drug and then write about his trip experience. This lead him to use psychedelic drugs, and inspired his novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He then formed his group the Merry Pranksters, who “openly used psychoactive drugs, wore outrageous attire, performed bizarre acts of street theater, and engaged in peaceful confrontation with not only the laws of conformity, but with the mores of conventionality.”
The Pranksters and their bus

The Pranksters and their bus

Neal Cassady was the bus driver of the Merry Prankster’s bus.

Neal Cassady was the bus driver of the Merry Prankster’s bus.

Ken Kesey is the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and founder of the Merry Pranksters. He died on November 10, 2001.

Ken Kesey is the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and founder of the Merry Pranksters. He died on November 10, 2001.

Jerry Garcia was the front man of The Grateful Dead. He died on August 9, 1995.

Jerry Garcia was the front man of The Grateful Dead. He died on August 9, 1995.

The Grateful Dead performing in 1971

The Grateful Dead found their name in a randomly opened dictionary. It came from “a genre of folktales in which a Good Samaritan arranges for the burial of a penniless stranger” (“General History”).

The Grateful Dead found their name in a randomly opened dictionary. It came from “a genre of folktales in which a Good Samaritan arranges for the burial of a penniless stranger” (“General History”).

Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, named for the intersection at Haight and Ashbury streets. During the 1960’s, the houses on Haight and Ashbury streets became a haven for hippies due to the availability of cheap rooms and vacant properties for rent or sale in the district. The members of the Grateful Dead shared a house there as this was where many of the acid tests took place. The bohemian subculture that took over this area still remains there today.

Haight-Ashbury is a district of San Francisco, California, named for the intersection at Haight and Ashbury streets. During the 1960’s, the houses on Haight and Ashbury streets became a haven for hippies due to the availability of cheap rooms and vacant properties for rent or sale in the district. The members of the Grateful Dead shared a house there as this was where many of the acid tests took place. The bohemian subculture that took over this area still remains there today.

"Further" was the name of the school bus that the Merry Pranksters traveled in. While traveling they recorded their shenanigans with the intention of making a documentary of their experience.

"Further" was the name of the school bus that the Merry Pranksters traveled in. While traveling they recorded their shenanigans with the intention of making a documentary of their experience.

The Merry Pranksters were a group formed by Ken Kesey in the 1960’s that promoted the use of psychedelic drugs. They stood out by wearing outrageous attire and also performed eccentric acts of street theater. Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters are specifically known for their road trip across the U.S in 1964, in a rainbow painted school bus.

A poster advertising the acid tests where the Merry Pranksters would party.

A poster advertising the acid tests where the Merry Pranksters would party.