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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Fillmore and Avalon Collection
Grateful Dead Tickets and Passes
Remember Eddie Cochran
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Grateful Dead Memorabilia
Source: Google News
Grateful Dead gear up for final show in ChicagoUSA TODAY, July 5th
CHICAGO – The Grateful Dead were bound to cover just a little more ground Sunday as they headed into their final "Fare Thee Well" show here after 50 long years on and off the road. It will be the last of a three-night run at Soldier Field that has...Read more
On the Road With The Grateful Dead and the Merry PrankstersNewsweek, July 5th
Wavy Gravy, the original and unofficial king, jester, warrior and bard of the counterculture, leads Newsweek's Special Editions on a meandering trip through his life with Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary...Read more
Grateful Dead at Soldier Field set lists for Friday, SaturdayChicago Tribune, July 5th
It began Friday as it ended in 1995, with one of the most beautiful songs in the Grateful Dead canon. “Box of Rain” was the final song performed by the band when it last played Soldier Field in 1995, and it was the opener in the Dead's three-night sold...Read more
Grateful Dead Farewell Concert StreamRiverBender.com, July 4th
The “Grateful Dead” will take the stage for a final time together in Chicago to mark their 50th year as a rock and roll band today. The four remaining members of the original cast are parting ways for good and say this will be the last time to see them...Read more
Empire State Realty Trust Celebrates Grateful Dead 50th AnniversaryMarketWatch, July 4th
The production was specifically designed for the Soldier Field Anniversary crowd, where members of the original band were reunited for the "Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead" tour 20 years to the day after the band's last...Read more
Grateful Dead LSD Memo: What to Do and What Not to DoPatch.com, July 4th
What should be done when a Grateful Dead fan is experiencing an Intense Psychedelic Response? In layman's terms, an acid trip? Well, there's a procedure for that. Rock Medicine, “setting the standard in non-judgmental event medicine,” handles medical ...Read more
Dave Matthews Band & Bela Fleck Cover Grateful DeadJamBase, July 4th
While the focus of the Grateful Dead world was on Chicago, the Dave Matthews Band played a tribute to the band at Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, New York on Saturday night...Read more
I'm spending $4768 dollars to see the Grateful Dead this weekendQuartz, July 3rd
I've just spent what for some Americans is three-month's salary to see the Grateful Dead, and I'm feeling a little guilty. It's hard to explain why I'd take time off work and spend nearly $5,000 to see a 50-year-old band whose lead singer passed away...Read more