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Monday, March 15, 2010

Guitars Unlimited, Menlo Park

This is a bit beyond my ken, but since I have one Warlocks post, and an early Phil post, and since LLD has a Menlo Park angle, I thought I'd make a note of it. This may well be in the record, but I don't recall it. This is from a ca. early 1991 interview with John Dawson.

Describing his hook-up with the GD and eventual NRPS people, Dawson notes that Garcia and Nelson gave music lessons "at various and sundry music stores around Palo Alto." He mentions Dana Morgan's of course, but also describes Dana Morgan, Jr. leaving and Phil coming in thusly: "It was in a different music store called Guitars Unlimited, which is in Menlo Park."

Again, I haven't consulted my old GD stuff in a long time, so this could well be well-known. I thought I'd put it out there for you Menlo Park types, just in case.

BTW, Dawson also mentions a place called Pinky's Pizza in Menlo Park as the place where Dana Morgan played with the Warlocks. I have no idea if that's new information or a muddle of Magoo's, but, again, there you have it.

Source: Brown, Toni A. 1991. New Riders of the Purple Sage Interview. Relix 18, 3 (June): 19-20.


  1. Guitars Unlimited was at approximately 417 El Camino in Menlo Park, a few blocks south of the original Kepler's on the same side of the street. It was a fine guitar store that, like Draper's and Dana Morgan's in Palo Alto, has disappeared.

  2. Rehearsal Space/Office/Alembic ("The Pink behind Pinky's")
    Novato, CA

    "The pink Novato warehouse, which was surrounded on all four sides by the Air Force base (with just a driveway cutting through) and behind Pinky's Pizza Parlour, housed the Dead's rehearsal space, their business office, and a workshop for Owsley, the inveterate tinkerer."(3)

    "The Dead had their office and rehearsal space in what was affectionately known as "The Pink behind Pinky's". The building was the color of Pepto-Bismol and was located down a long driveway behind Pinky's Pizza Parlor. We shared a fence with Hamilton Air Force Base.
    Alembic had its offices in the building with the Dead and separate workshop and living space behind the warehouse."(1)

    Jerry rehearsed here in
    "We were stationed at Hamilton from 1969-1971.
    When my dad was sent to Vietnam, we moved off base
    into an apartment. I still attended the elementary school on Hamilton. However, behind our apt. complex, there was a pink stucco warehouse. My mom always warned me not to play back there. Come to find out, the group of people living in the warehouse was The Grateful Dead! How cool was that!!
    One evening we were at Pinky's Pizza and a helicopter landed in the parking lot. My mom thought we were being raided, but it was The Rolling Stones picking up The Grateful Dead for a concert in San Francisco. At the time I was too young to appreciate that fact, but looking back now, I'm like" The Grateful Dead were my neighbors!"(2)

    3.)^Jackson, Blair, Grateful Dead Gear, pg. 87,

  3. In 1965, I was a young 14 year old guitar player, growing up in Mill Valley. My father, being divorced from Mom was living in Menlo Park. One evening while visiting, I took a stroll down El Camino down to Kepler's Books, Discount Records and then stopped in at Guitars Unlimited where I found some guys in the back, listening intently to this 50ish Jazz-style player who used chords for each note of the song. I listened for a while totally captivated, acknowledging the other 2 longer hair older guys, and continued home. A few months later I walked up the stairs to The Fillmore to see The GD play for the 1st time and Jerry Garcia was standing there, with us seeming to recognize each other, which I later realized was from Guitars Unlimited. It wasn't until they played that night that I realized he was the GD guitar player, Jerry Garcia!

    1. This is so cool. Thank you for sharing your recollections! I wonder who he was listening to.


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