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
Watch: Bill Kreutzmann Reflects on 50 Years of the Grateful Dead; Would Love ...Relix (blog), July 7th
Bill Kreutzmann is thinking of you, East Coast Deadheads. In a new interview with PBS News Hour, when asked if this was the end of the Grateful Dead, the drummer admits he'd love to do more shows. "I'd like to have a couple more shows on the East Coast...Read more
Watch Grateful Dead Fans All Over the World Cover 'Ripple'Radio.com Music and Entertainment News, July 7th
By Brian Ives. If you ever saw the Grateful Dead in concert, you know that the attraction of the event was as much about the community as it was about the band. They had great nights and they had not-so-great nights—such is the risk of changing set...Read more
John Popper Proud Of Trey Anastasio Role At Grateful Dead 50JamBase, July 7th
Blues Traveler front man John Popper's relationship with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio goes back decades to when the pair both attended Princeton Day School in New Jersey. Phish and Blues Traveler came up through the ranks at the same time and each ...Read more
In final concert, Grateful Dead bids farewell to faithful followersPBS NewsHour (blog), July 6th
Grateful Dead helped to define the '60s era counterculture, its freedom, its excess, the whole package. All these years later, drummer Bill Kreutzmann told me of the first time he saw a performance by a young man who would become the band's most iconic ...Read more
Grateful Dead Plays Final Shows With Record-Breaking AudiencesNPR, July 6th
Music critic Will Hermes went to one of the Grateful Dead's last shows that broke all kinds of records. KELLY MCEVERS, HOST: From "Oklahoma!" to Chicago - that's where the surviving members of the Grateful Dead played their final concerts together this ...Read more
Katy Perry and John Mayer Get Cozy at Chicago Grateful Dead ShowsPeople Magazine, July 6th
Katy Perry and John Mayer may have been making fireworks of their own over the weekend – the on-and-off couple got cozy at the Grateful Dead farewell concert series in Chicago. The musicians were first spotted Friday acting casual and friendly around ...Read more
The Grateful Dead: Is This Really the End?Wall Street Journal, July 6th
Were this weekend's Grateful Dead concerts really the end for the iconic band? What would Jerry Garcia do? WSJ's John Jurgensen joins Lunch Break and discusses with WSJ's Tanya Rivero. Photo: AP ...Read more
Grateful Dead Break Soldier Field Ticket Sales Record All Three NightsNBC Chicago (blog), July 6th
The Deadheads have done it again at Chicago's Soldier Field, breaking the ticket sales record for the third night in a row during the final show Sunday night. Prior to the first of the three shows Friday night, the record number of tickets sold at the...Read more