SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The four surviving members of the Grateful Dead are launching their farewell mini-tour on Saturday in California, where the legendary jam band got its start 50 years ago.

The first of the Dead's five "Fare Thee Well" shows is scheduled to take place in Santa Clara, not far from the pizzeria where a five-man blues-rock band called The Warlocks played its first gig in May 1965. The group changed its name to the Grateful Dead seven months later and shortly after moved to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood, the counterculture hub with which the Dead still are identified.

They will perform a second two-set show in Santa Clara on Sunday before heading to Chicago for three shows on July 3, 4 and 5. Soldier Field is where the Grateful Dead last played as a group before the death of lead guitarist-songwriter Jerry Garcia in August 1995.

The band's so-called "core four" -- rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh and percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann -- insist July 5 will be their last concert together. They have recruited Phish front man Trey Anastasio as Garcia's stand-in on guitar and vocals. Keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti, best known for his work with Weir's band RatDog, will round out the lineup.