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]

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 Fillmore West 1969 The Complete Recordings Box Set Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 1 3cd Limited Edition SetGrateful Dead & And Co Company Poster Print Mike Dubois 2015 Las Vegas Uncut!Grateful Dead 1967 Fresno Rocky’s Mag Fillmore-era Concert Handbill FlyerFd012 The Quick & The Dead Grateful Dead Quicksilver Signed Wes Wilson HandbillGrateful Dead ~ "s/t" (warners) Uk 1967 - Rare Mono Original! - The 1st Album!1 Cent Cd Spring 1990 3/19/90 Hartford, Ct - Grateful Dead 3cd On Rhino From BoxGrateful Dead 30 Trips Around The Sun Box Set Ltd Edition/numbered & Sold Out!!!Lot Of Grateful Dead Cds, Warlocks Box Set, Pure Jerry, Dave's PicksGrateful Dead - Without A Net 3xlp - Arista NmDead & Company St. Louis, Mo 11-20-15 Grateful Dead Concert Poster Grateful Dead~american Beauty~rare Orig '70 White Label Promo Lp~shrink+stickerGrateful Dead Spring 1990/the Other One 23 Cd Box Set Sealed In Shipping BoxGrateful Dead ~ "aoxomoxoa" (warners) Uk 1969 - Rare Original! Grateful Dead S/t Warner Brothers 2ws 1935 Rare White Label Promo Copy 2xlp1 Cent Cd Spring 1990 3/26/90 Albany, Ny - Grateful Dead 3cd On Rhino From BoxSterling Silver Grateful Dead Band Ring Jewelry Size 12.25Vintage Grateful Dead Rock Concert T Shirt 1989 Mens L Gdm King Poker Skull RoseGrateful Dead Without A Net 1990 Arista 3 X 12" Vinyl Record Album 303935Grateful Dead Dicks Picks Ten 3 Cd's 99 Cents No Reserve!Grateful Dead Dicks Picks Thirteen 3 Cd's 99 Cents No Reserve!!Grateful Dead 30 Trips Around The Sun 80cd Box Set Sealed/numbered & Sold Out!!!Grateful Dead 30 Trips Around The Sun 80cd Box Set - Brand New Never Played!!!Grateful Dead Vinyl Lp 8 Record Lot Europe '72 Aoxomoxoa Anthem Of The Sun Grateful Dead -vinyl Lp Record Lot W/ 7 Albums! Including Terrapin Station Grateful Dead Gd50 Fare Thee Well Helton Santa Clara Vip Poster Matching # Set!1 Cent Cd Road Trips Vol.4 No.2 - Grateful Dead April Fools' '88 Ltd Ed 3cd Grateful Dead Bootleg Cassette Collection ■ Adult Owned ■ Grateful Dead ■ Phish30 Lp Lot Rock Led Zeppelin Nugent Grateful Dead Stones Who King Crimson Ac/dcGrateful Dead 30 Trips Around The Sun April 25, 1977 Dave's Picks Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 16Dead & Company St. Louis #84 11/20/15 Gd50 Grateful Dead Sgarbossa Spusta PhishDead And Company Poster Greensboro, Nc Taylor Swope Not Pin Grateful DeadGrateful Dead~live/dead~rare Orig '70 Warner Lp~w7 Label~white Label PromoGrateful Dead Steal Your Face Autzen 94 100% Hemp Ball Cap Hat Bob WeirGrateful Dead Dick's Picks Vol. 4 Fillmore East (6-lp Vinyl Box) Still Sealed!30 Trips Around The Sun Box Set Grateful Dead - Box Book Scroll Record - No CdsGrateful Dead 7/9/95 Soldier Field Original Unused Backstage Pass No Reserve !1 Cent Cd Dave's Picks Vol 13 Winterland S.f. 74 - Grateful Dead 3cd Un-numbered2 Classic The Grateful Dead Lp Record Albums! 1970 Workingman's,skeletons Closet1992 Grateful Dead Skeleton And Roses Belt Buckle Limited Ed Legends Foundry1992 Grateful Dead Steal Your Face Belt Buckle Limited Ed Legends Foundry3 Grateful Dead, Gerry Garcia Lp Record Albums! Anthem, Workingman's, Europe '72Vtg Winterland 1969 Poster Jefferson Airplane Grateful Dead Sons Of ChamplinGrateful Dead 4 Lp Vinyl Lot - All Originals - One Import Color VinylGrateful Dead Mixed Lp Record Lot Albums & Dvd Vhs Cassette See All Photos!Grateful Dead Best Of The Grateful Dead 1967-1977 Vinyl 2xlp Sealed Jerry GarciaJ Garcia Grateful Dead How Fine Extra Long Pure Silk Tie -new-Lot Of 24 Cassette All Live Grateful Dead Santana Clapton Dylan Doors MarleyGrateful Dead The Best Of Skeletons From The Closet Warner Brothers CleanTo Terrapin: May 28, 1977 Hartford, Ct [digipak] By Grateful Dead (cd,... 1.00 Grateful Dead Vinyl Lp Record Lot - All OriginalsGrateful Dead Alpaca JacketGrateful Dead~workingman's Dead~rare Orig '70 Warner Lp~green Label~mint~1st Cvr2015 St. Louis Cardinals Grateful Dead Theme T-shirt Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 25 Volume Twenty Five 5/10/78 Ct 11/11/78 Ma 4 Cd 1stGrateful Dead 30 Trips Around The Sun May 14, 1978 Dave's Picks Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead~live / Dead~rare Orig '70 Warner Green W7 Label Lp W/insert2015 St. Louis Cardinals Grateful Dead Theme T-shirt Sga 9/2 Xl Deadhead Dead And Company Grateful Dead Columbus, Ohio Official Show Pin

Recent News: Grateful Dead Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Acid Tests turn 50: Looking back at the start of the Grateful Dead
Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 30th

Michael Parrish, Tom Clark, and Dan Orloff, from left, pose Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015, in San Jose, Calif., on the site where the Grateful Dead performed their first concert 50 years ago. It was in a house that was later moved to nearby St. James Street...Read more

Photos: Dead & Company featuring Grateful Dead, John Mayer at MGM
Las Vegas Sun, November 29th

Dead & Company — Grateful Dead members Bob Weir on rhythm guitar and vocals and Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann on drums; John Mayer on lead guitar and vocals; Oteil Burbridge on bass guitar; and Jeff Chimenti on keyboards — on Friday, Nov...Read more

50 Years Ago Today, The First Grateful Dead Concert Took Place At Ken Kesey's ...
Live for Live Music (press release) (blog), November 27th

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever performance of the Grateful Dead, still known as The Warlocks, at an Acid Test. The band took the stage at Ken Kesey's first public Acid Test, where like-minded individuals would take LSD and enjoy...Read more

Reflecting on the Grateful Dead's history in Las Vegas
Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 26th

The Grateful Dead is one of rock's most well-chronicled bands, thanks to obsessive fans and an open policy toward recording shows and swapping tapes in the pre-Internet era. So more is known about the Dead's show in the Ice Palace in Commercial Center ...Read more

Celebrity preview: John Mayer and Grateful Dead, 'Elf,' Billy Gardell, Whitney ...
Las Vegas Sun, November 26th

Did showbiz execs deliberately book Dead & Company (The Grateful Dead, John Mayer) at MGM Grand Garden Arena and West Coast Feast at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel to sum up our holiday weekend? Fortunately, with the big bird cleared away, we ...Read more

David Gans To Release Grateful Dead Tribute LP
JamBase, November 25th

On Friday, David Gans will release It's A Hand-Me-Down, a collection of 13 Grateful Dead covers performed in a "solo electric" context. The LP is available for pre-order now via Festival Link and Amazon and will be up for grabs on iTunes this Friday...Read more

Grateful Dead Release Historic 'Fare Thee Well' Concerts on DVD/CD
Guitar World Magazine, November 24th

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Grateful Dead, the "core four" original members—Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir—reunited at Chicago's Soldier over three nights in July, marking the original members' last-ever performance ...Read more

5 Grateful Dead Songs With St. Louis Connections
Riverfront Times (blog), November 20th

This summer, the Grateful Dead celebrated its 50th anniversary, with all four surviving members performing at Soldier Field in Chicago — an outing branded as its "Fare Thee Well" performances. For those shows, the band was rounded out by veterans of...Read more