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
New Britain: (Corrected date) Garcia Project celebrates Grateful Dead at ...Middletown Press, September 3rd
You may find one of these great musicians at certain shows as well: Melvin Seals, (Jerry Garcia Band) on Keys and Tom Constanton (Grateful Dead) on Keys. Doors open at Trinity-on-Main at 7 p.m. There will be a full bar for patrons 21 and over and...Read more
Grateful Dead farewell leaves us all in sunshine daydreamIV Leader, September 3rd
The last song the Grateful Dead performed on July 5, 2015, at Soldier Field — the band's farewell 50 years after it was founded — was “Attics of My Life.” It's a close-harmony song of thankfulness to a soul, a muse, perhaps an audience. It professes...Read more
Grateful Dead tribute hero, John Kadlecik, to play first solo show in CanadaOttawa Citizen, September 2nd
Every Deadhead with a guitar tries to emulate the late Jerry Garcia. Few are as skilled as John Kadlecik, who has built a career out of it. The American guitarist founded the Grateful Dead tribute band, Dark Star Orchestra, in the late '90s. Fifteen...Read more
Phil Lesh & Friends Pay Tribute To Grateful Dead 1981JamBase, August 31st
Phil Lesh & Friends continued a series of shows honoring each year of Grateful Dead last night at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California. The Grateful Dead bassist and his band used the same setlist the Dead did at Berkeley's Greek Theatre on ...Read more
Not your (grand)father's Grateful DeadChicago Tribune, August 28th
The Grateful Dead came to Chicago in July amid considerable hoopla, playing at Soldier Field to sold-out crowds of nostalgic 40-to-60 somethings and enthusiastic millennials, many fitted out in their tie-dyed best while snapping pictures on their iPhones...Read more
Phil Lesh & Friends Pay Tribute To Grateful Dead 1980 At TerrapinJamBase, August 28th
Phil Lesh & Friends' series of shows honoring each year of Grateful Dead continued last night at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California; where the bassist and his band used the same setlist the Dead did on June 21, 1980 at West High Auditorium...Read more
Grateful Dead alums announce Dead & Company tourThe San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25th
The Grateful Dead is not going quietly into that good night. In fact, the legendary Bay Area band — which performed the last of its five "Fare The Well" farewell concerts on July 5 at Chicago's Soldier Field — doesn't appear to be going anywhere at...Read more
Grateful Dead Members, John Mayer Form Dead & CompanyRollingStone.com, August 5th
The Grateful Dead may have ceased to exist following their Fare Thee Well shows, but three of the band's "Core Four" surviving members will reincarnate the Dead as part of a new group featuring John Mayer. Dubbed Dead & Company, guitarist Bob Weir ...Read more