When the Grateful Dead played their first gig in 1965, they weren’t even the Grateful Dead. They were the Warlocks. The group’s long, strange trip from those early days to the top of the jam band mountain is chronicled in the new LIFE special edition The Grateful Dead: 50 Years Along the Golden Road.
Many of the images are by Herb Greene, who was with the band from the beginning. “San Francisco was such a great place then—you could do the whole city back then,” he told LIFE Books of his early days with the band that would become the Dead. “You didn’t need any money, there were two-dollar restaurants. There was an availability of the kind of culture we were looking for.”
LIFE’s special edition The Grateful Dead: 50 Years Along the Golden Road is available in stores and online June 12, 2015.