|The Warlocks played Menlo College in Atherton, CA around September 1965|
My source was one of the first two Warlocks fans. The internet being what it is, I won't identify her by name, although she may choose to reveal herself in the Comments (some scholars will figure it out anyway). In any case, she was a Palo Alto High School student (class of '66) who saw the Warlocks at Magoo's, Frenchy's and numerous other places where she was able to get in the door. She distinctly recalls seeing The Warlocks at Menlo College. She remembers that it was in some sort of dining hall or "rec room," and that numerous tables had to be pushed against a wall to allow everybody to dance. Her memory was that the purpose of the show was probably to encourage Menlo College students to recommend The Warlocks for paying gigs at school dances.
The performing history of The Warlocks remains murky. They played every Wednesday in May, 1965 at Magoo's Pizza, at 635 Santa Cruz Avenue in Menlo Park, but at the end of that run Phil Lesh replaced Dana Morgan Jr as the band's bass player. Apparently, however, the Warlocks raucous fans violated a local ban on dancing, and the shows at Magoo's had to end. Lesh debuted when The Warlocks played at Frenchy's in Hayward, on June 18, 1965, but they were fired after the first night of a three night engagement. Up until recently, the band's activities for the balance of the Summer had remained a mystery, but my source recalls that the Warlocks regularly played The Top Of The Tangent on a regular, if informal basis.
My source doesn't recall when the band played Menlo College. However, given the California school year, it seems pretty likely that the Menlo performance must have been at the beginning of the next school year, around September of 1965. The school would not have had student events in the Summer, and an informal event in a dining hall seems like a beginning-of-term event.
update: a Menlo alumnus tells me
[I] remember what you call sock hops, but were actually called "mixers." They weren't held in the dining hall, which was called the Commons, but in the student union building toward the entrance of the school with parking nearby. I remember bands, but can't recall if it was the Warlocks or not.By the end of the Fall session, the Warlocks would have more likely been looking farther North than school dances in Menlo Park. As a result, I am marking the Menlo show as September, 1965, although I am open to any recovered memories anyone may have.
Menlo College was a very peculiar institution for the West Coast, as it was an East Coast style Prep School located in the West, far from its native habitat. The Menlo School for Boys, at 50 Valparaiso Street in Atherton, had been formed in 1924, taking over a Military Academy on the same site. In 1927, the Menlo School for Boys also formed Menlo College, which was a sort of junior college that prepared students to go straight into the upper division. Menlo College was and still is located at 1000 El Camino Real in Atherton. Thus, the Warlocks appearance at Menlo fits in with the band's slow march up El Camino Real towards San Francisco.
Atherton, a very wealthy Peninsula town, was literally across the street from the town of Menlo Park, so the name was appropriate. Menlo students were given a program where they would be prepared for college, and then spend the first two years of college in their Prep School itself, transferring straight into their junior year at their chosen University. Menlo School always had close ties to Stanford University, and the programs were generally designed to get students directly into Stanford as juniors.
The public schools in the South Bay generally had a very good reputation, so private schools had to fill certain niches. By the 1960s, and certainly into the 1970s, Menlo School filled a very specific niche. There was a certain kind of South Bay teenager--one lived across the street from me--who were pretty bright but not very academically motivated, and who did not necessarily do well in the public schools full of the children of college professors and the like. Menlo was a place where--for a price--they could get more attention and do the first two years of college, thus setting the table for their transfer to Stanford or a similar school, which is what their parents desired. Many of the Menlo students, besides being smart but not academic, were also very good at sports, a fact not lost on colleges looking for transfer students.
Thus the boys who went to Menlo School or College--remember, you could go to Menlo from 9th Grade until your Sophomore year of College--were often well off, good at sports and slackers, a clear recipe for fun. Yet where would these handsome lads find girlfriends? The nearby private girls school of Castilleja, in Palo Alto, was one possibility, and the former Grace Wing (later Slick) had gone there, so that wasn't nothing, but really the best bet was the public school girls at the public high school of Menlo-Atherton, located just a mile away (at 555 Middlefield). Menlo was in the Menlo-Atherton district limits, so the Menlo boys had to know who the prettiest girls at M-A were, and the M-A girls had to know there were some real catches at Menlo. Bob Weir, along with Bob Matthews, Matt Kelly (and later Steve Marcus, Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks) all went to M-A, but the real money would have been at Menlo.
Warlocks Plans, 1965
Magoo's Pizza, where the Warlocks had played there first shows, was in the Menlo Atherton district, but there's no way the buzz hadn't gotten over to Menlo College. Indeed, Menlo School was full of boarders, some from quite far away, and Magoo's was just a block away from the school (Menlo was up on El Camino). There's no way some of the Menlo boys didn't walk over to Magoo's on those Wednesday nights. Warlocks fans from M-A looking to drum up business for the band would have definitely found a way to get them in at Menlo School. The story about pushing aside tables in a dining hall leads me to suspect that the band played an informal sort of sock-hop early in the school year, hoping to get hired on for Proms or Formals later in the season. Of course, by the time the big events at Menlo College rolled around, the Warlocks were playing the Acid Tests, the Trips Festival and the Fillmore, so they weren't so concerned about the missed opportunities.
Still, we can now confirm that some Menlo boys with ambitious parents found themselves at a sock hop event in their school cafeteria in about September, 1965. They were probably hoping for some pretty girls from Menlo Atherton High School, and they probably found some. They also found a strange, noisy band of barbarians playing something they had only heard on car radios in the middle of the night on the wrong side of town, but as long as the girls wanted to dance, it probably didn't matter to them who the strange guys were that were playing that weird, dangerous music.
|A picture sleeve for the Rolling Stones "Little Red Rooster"/"Off The Hook" single|
My source had one other, peculiar, unique memory about the Warlocks playing Menlo College. She and a friend had the duty of writing down the lyrics to songs that the band wanted to learn, many of them Rolling Stones songs. One thing she recalled about the Menlo gig was that the band had learned the Rolling Stones song "Off The Hook" (released in the US in February 1965 on the album The Rolling Stones Now). My source had carefully explained to Jerry Garcia that when Mick Jagger sang the lyrics "it's off the hook, " Jagger had mimed holding a telephone to his ear. Whether she knew that from having seen the Stones, or from some television appearance isn't quite clear.
Nonetheless, my source recalled Jerry not only singing "It's Off The Hook," but miming the telephone bit. He even smiled at her when he did it, to show he'd learned his part. How often the Warlocks played "Off The Hook" after that remains unknown, and I doubt Jerry mimed the phone much. But he did it once, at least, even if the Menlo boys had their eyes somewhere else.