Formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California, the Grateful Dead attracted a large concert following until the untimely death in 1995 of lead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia. In its wake, the band left behind scores of albums, most of them live recordings from the Dick’s Picks and Road Trips series, as well as a monumental amount of collectible memorabilia.

Vintage Grateful Dead posters, handbills, postcards, and ticket stubs from the 1960s are particularly in demand. The rarest of these are the flyers and handbills advertising the fabled Acid Tests organized by author Ken Kesey and held between 1965 and 1967 at various venues from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The Grateful Dead was the house band for these seminal events.

By 1966, the Grateful Dead was a fixture in San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom and Fillmore Auditorium, both of which produced posters and postcards to advertise their shows. That year, Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse created one of the most famous Grateful Dead Avalon posters, known among collectors as FD026. Based on an illustration the artists found in an early 20th-century copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the poster became known as Skeleton & Roses, thanks to the prominence of a rose-covered skeleton in its center. A version of this poster would go on to become an album cover for the band in 1971 and remains one of its most enduring and collectible images.

Over at the Fillmore, artist Wes Wilson was creating posters that helped define the psychedelic lettering style of the day. In 1966, several of his posters for Grateful Dead concerts featured photographs by Herb Greene. One of the best of these, BG032, had a portrait of a leather-jacketed, Cheshire-cat-grinning Jerry Garcia staring straight into the camera. Another, BG023, paired a group photo of the band with one of the Jefferson Airplane, which at the time got top billing.

Fillmore promoter Bill Graham hired an artist named James H. Gardner to create a new version of this poster for a summer-of-1967 show of the Airplane and the Dead (they were billed on the poster as representatives of the "the San Francisco scene") in Toronto. Known as BG074, the poster used the same Herb Greene photo of the Grateful Dead below a new one of the Jefferson Airplane, and was organized almost exactly like Wilson’s original. But due to the remote location and low print run, it is today one of the most collectible Grateful Dead posters from the late 1960s.

Other San Francisco artists to create Grateful Dead posters include Rick Griffin, whose January 1969 poster for a series of shows at the Avalon (ABR690124) was repurposed that summer for the band’s third album, Aoxomoxoa.

Which brings us to vinyl. When the Grateful Dead recorded their first few albums, the process in the studio was, by most accounts, a good deal less than perfect. Thus, in the early 1970s, Anthem of the Sun and Aoxomoxoa, the band’s second and third albums, were remixed to improve their sound quality. This pleased the band but annoyed some of its fans, who preferred the original muddy mixes, which are now quite collectible...

Deadheads also cherish ticket stubs from the 1960s and beyond. Those for shows at the Fillmore and Avalon were usually mini, two-color versions of the poster, so some collectors strive to collect a concert’s poster, postcard, and tickets to create complete sets.

Ticketron issued one of the band’s most famous tickets for a show on October 20, 1974. Prior to this concert, the Dead had announced its intention to take a hiatus. No one really knew if this was just a break or a break-up, so the ticket for that show was printed with the words “THE LAST ONE” in big, blocky letters on its front. And for some reason, the band’s name was misspelled—Greateful instead of Grateful.

Of course, the Grateful Dead did not break up. In fact, during the 1980s and early 1990s, they were routinely one of the highest-grossing touring bands on the planet. Stage passes from these decades, particularly uncut sheets of unused passes like the "Truck Puzzle" (12/3/92-12/17/92) by Tony Reonegro are highly collectible. After the death of Garcia, the band created a line of collectibles for kids in the form of stuffed bean-bag bears, similar to Beanie Babies but with Grateful Dead themes.

In recent years, the band has released limited-edition soundboard recordings of entire runs at the Fillmore West (four nights in a row from 1969) and Winterland (three nights in a row from 1973). These sets routinely turn up for resale on eBay.

Even more successful are the recent auctions at Bonham’s of items that had been collected by former Grateful Dead road managers and band associates. In these tony, auctioneer surroundings—a far cry from the band’s communal, 1960s digs in Haight-Ashbury—everything from gold records to tie-dyed speaker covers to Harley Davidson motorcycles have been auctioned off, sometimes for breathtaking prices.

Among the most prized items at these affairs (besides the original album art and the handmade guitars, which have brought tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars) have been the beat-up equipment and attaché cases. Despite their road-weary condition, or perhaps because of it, these modest cases have fetched upwards of $15,000 each.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Wish you'd visited San Francisco in the late 1960s? Get a quick hit with this comprehensive collection of psychedel… [read review or visit site]

Grateful Dead Tickets and Passes

Grateful Dead Tickets and Passes

Wish you'd kept your stubs from when you followed The Dead around? Check out this collection of over 3,000 Grateful… [read review or visit site]

Remember Eddie Cochran

Remember Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran died in 1960 at the age of 21, but his legacy lives on at Remember Eddie Cochran. The site pays tribu… [read review or visit site]

Dylanstubs.com

Dylanstubs.com

Hey babe, check out this database of over 2,900 Bob Dylan ticket stubs and concert posters, assembled with the help… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Grateful Dead - Rick Griffin Signed - Unique Aoxomoxoa ' Eyeball ' 1969 PosterLot Of 136 Concert Ticket Stubs Grateful Dead*garcia*dylan*santana*allman*zappa+Lot Of 23 Grateful Dead Beanie Bears Plush Bears Collectibles Lot Of 18 Grateful Dead Beanie BearsGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Volumes 1-22 Plus Bonus DiscsOwsley Stanley. Original Grateful Dead Steal Your Face Belt BuckleGrateful Dead 30 Trips Around The Sun Box Set 30 Shows [80-cd Set] W/all Extras!Abel Grateful Dead - Dancing Bears Commemorative Fly Reel - Flymasters TradeupGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Volumes 1-20 And All Subscription Bonus Discs!Grateful Dead "dave Picks" Volume 9 10 11 12 + Bonus Brand New 2016 ../16500Grateful Dead May 1977 Box Set - 14 Cd - Limited Edition 5 ShowsGrateful Dead May 1977 Box Set 5 Complete Shows Out Of PrintGrateful Dead: Dave's Picks Vol. 1 5/25/77 Richmond, Va #5042/12000Pre-owned Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks Vol. 1 Richmond, Va, Oop Low Number!Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 1 Mosque 5/25/77 Richmond, Va # 8708/12000 HdcdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 2: July 31, 1974 Dillon Stadium, Hartford, CtGrateful Dead - Dave's Picks Vol. 3 Chicago, Il 10/22/71 Oop Low Number!Dead And Company Poster Vip Aj Masthay- 2017 Tour.grateful Dead Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks Vol. 4 Williamsburg, Va 9/24/76 Oop Low Number!Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 2 Dillon Hartford Ct 7/31/74 # 11689/12000 HdcdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 4 Williamsburg Va 9/24/76 # 5932/12000 HdcdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 3 10/22/71 Chicago Il # 386/12000 HdcdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 5 11/17/73 Ucla Los Angeles Ca # 7050/12000 Hdcd1992 Grateful Dead Belt Buckle Set Of 3Grateful Dead - Cornell 5/8/77 5 Vinyl Box Set Lp Limited Edition 7700 Sold OutGrateful Dead View From The Vault Ii 2 Two Soundtrack Rfk 6/14/1991 7/12/90 3 CdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 8 Fox Atlanta Ga 11/30/80 9117/12000 HdcdGrateful Dead Silver Coin Number 3562/5000 Collectors Item. With C.o.a.Hunter S Thompson Embellished Print Grateful Dead Joey Feldman The Grateful Dead Sunshine Daydream Veneta Oregon 4 Lp *vinyl* BoxsetVery Rare 1994 Grateful Dead Tour T-shirt Boston Garden Size Xl Grateful Dead 1995 Fall Tour 369/25000 Original Everett Art Poster Near MintAj Masthay - Night 2 Grateful Dead Company Co Fenway Park Boston Poster 6/18Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 7 Horton Normal Il 4/24/78 10727/12000 HdcdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 6 San Francisco 12/20/69 St. Louis 2/2/70 HdcdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 9 Adams Field Missoula Mt 5/14/74 8555/12000 HdcdGrateful Dead T-shirt Radio City Music Hall New York City Ny 1995 XxlGrateful Dead July 1978: The Complete Recordings Box Set, Free ShippingGrateful Dead Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 3 Wall Of Sound 1974 W/bonus Disc Sealed NewGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 12 Colgate Hamilton Ny 11/4/77 3236/14000 HdcdReal Deal Vintage Original 1981 Grateful Dead T-shirt (dead Set) Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 11 Wichita Ks 11/17/72 344/14000 HdcdGrateful Dead, Rationals Original Card Grande Ballroom Donnie Dope,russ Gibb Ex27 Live Grateful Dead Concert Audio Cassette TapesGrateful Dead Lp Lot Of 7: Terrapin/cats/shakedown/steal Your Face/heaven PsychLed Zeppelin & The Grateful Dead Lot Of 7 Classic Rock Lp Albums Nice CollectionGrateful Dead & Company 2017 Official Nalgene Water Bottle Fenway Boston 6/18Lot Of 16 Grateful Dead Bean Bear Collection With Tag By Liquid Blue Grateful Dead T-shirt Buffalo Dead Rich Stadium June 6 1992 Xl Liquid BlueGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 22 Felt Forum 12/7/71 W/bonus Disc - New SealedDes / Wobf / Wonders Of Black Flag Supreme Summer Grateful Dead Shirt LRare Vintage Grateful Dead Batman T Shirt From 1989Grateful Dead Very Rare The Warlocks Concert Ticket Hampton Coliseum 10/9/89Grateful Dead - American Beauty Reel To Reel Tape - Complete - Tested Nice!Grateful Dead - Lot Of 6 Albums - Vinyl Lp UsedGrateful Dead 1980s Lot Of 10 Unused Tour Backstage Passes Bill GrahamGrateful Dead The Acid Test Lp Original Pressing No Reserve!!Grateful Dead - Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 2 Carousel 2-14-68 W/bonus Disc Sealed NewGrateful Dead So Many Roads (1965-1995) (cd, Nov-1999, 5 Discs) Jerry GarciaGrateful Dead Vintage 1978 Metal Belt Buckle Kelly & Mouse L-200