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    

Vtg 80s Grateful Dead T Shirt Steal Your Face Jerry Garcia Rock Tour Shirt Minty30 Trips Around The Sun [80-cd Set] [9/18] * By Grateful Dead (cd, Sep-2015,...'82 Us Festival Grateful Dead Police Ramones Boxing Style Concert Poster/ticketsDave's Picks 3 Grateful Dead Chicago Il 10-22-71 Numbered CopyGrateful Dead - Spring 1990 The Other One (too) - Used. Excellent Condition Grateful Dead Lot Of 43 Lps 45 Cd 5 Sealed Promo Talk Grey Vinyl Import Anthem Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 2, Hartford, Ct 7/31/74, Limited Ed, 3-cdGrateful Dead, Dave's Picks Vol 8, 11/30/80Rock Lp Lot! Grateful Dead Led Zeppelin Iii Rolling Stones Let It Bleed PsychDay Of The Dead - 5 Cd Box Set - New Sealed - Grateful Dead Covers - 4ad - 59tksGrateful Dead ~ "american Beauty" (warners) Uk 1971 - Early Pressing!Grateful Dead Road Trips Vol 2 Number 3 With Bonus DiscGrateful Dead May 1977 14 Cd Box SetGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Volume 3 Chicago Illinois 10/22/71 3 Cd NumberedGrateful Dead, Dave's Picks Vol 6, 02/02/70,12/20/69Mens Grateful Dead Dragonfly Short Sleeve Shirt Large LFamily Dog Original 1966 Flyer Grateful Dead Quicksilver Tweedy Vf Wes WilsonSanta Cruz Eric Dressen Celtic Roses Grateful Dead Skateboard Re-issue DeckGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 6 San Francisco 12/20/69 St. Louis 2/2/70 New CdGrateful Dead: Dave's Picks Vol. 9: Missoula, Montana 5/14/74, New! 3-cd LimitedWinterland 1973: The Complete Recordings [box] By Grateful Dead (cd,...Grateful Dead Road Trips Vol 2 Number 2 With Bonus DiscGrateful Dead-the Warner Bros Studio Albums-rhino 523986-5lp Box + 7" ExclusiveSan Francisco Giants Sf Grateful Dead Skeleton BobbleheadGrateful Dead~steal Your Face~very Rare Sealed Orig '76 Arista 2lp Set W/stickerGrateful Dead Savoy Brown Aum Graham/fillmore Era Rare HandbillGrateful Dead Road Trips Vol 1 Number 3 With Bonus DiscGrateful Dead Without A Net Rare Original 1990 Us Vinyl 3 Lp Arista Al3-8364100% Real Hermes Tie ~ Rose Pink W Fun Dancing Bears A La Grateful Dead XlChuck Berry Grateful Dead Concert Poster C 1967 Wes Wilson Artist Winterland #55Grateful Dead Welker Fare The Well PosterGrateful Dead, Dick's Picks Vol 5, 11/17/73Xxl Grateful Dead - Pink Floyd -black Crowes - Led Zeppelin T Shirt Lot Rock JamGrateful Dead Randy Tuten Signed Tour Poster Rockin' The Rhein With The Grateful Dead [digipak] By Grateful Dead (cd,...3 CdsGrateful Dead Tie-dye Shirt Vintage 1992 Las Vegas Nevada Concert Gdm BrockumGrateful Dead: Dave's Picks Vol. 12: Hamilton, Ny, 11/4/77, Sealed, 3-cd LimitedGrateful Dead - Workingman's Dead Promo Nm WlpGrateful Dead Shirt Vintage 1992 Gdm BrockumGently Worn Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia T-shirt - XlGrateful Dead - Spring 1990 Box Set, With Original Shipping Box. Never Used.Grateful Dead Road Trips Vol 3 Number 1 With Bonus DiscGrateful Dead Limited Edition Crocs Size 12 Brand New Free ShippingGrateful Dead: To Terrapin - 5-28-77Rock Lp Lot! Grateful Dead Neil Young Harvest Paul Mccartney Fleetwood MacGrateful Dead " Workingman's Dead " 1st Uk Press Orange Label A1/b1 Ws1869 - ExGrateful Dead Cd Live Houston, Tx 11/18/1972 Rhino Jerry Garcia Bob Weir 2014Gently Worn Grateful Dead Jerry Garcia T-shirt - XlEx Rare 1st Press Gold Label 1967the Grateful Dead Debut+jerry Garcia Solo AlbumGrateful Dead Signed Drumhead Rare 100% Guaranteed Authentic Coa IncludedGrateful Dead 1999 Vandor Le Train Cookie Jar ( Bear Casey Jones Jerry Garcia)We Can Discover The Wonders Of Black Flag Grateful Dead Long Sleeve Shirt LargeGrateful Dead Dick's Picks 32. Out Of Print.Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Volume Ten 3 Discs-cd2014 ~ Hot Wheels ~ Pop Culture ~ Grateful Dead ~ Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus....Old Navy Collectabilitees Grateful Dead T Shirt Navy Blue Medium MGrateful Dead Lp Aoxomoxoa Uk Orange Warner Brothers 1st Press Nice VinylGrateful Dead Amazing Baseball Shirt From Liquid Blue New UnwornConverse All Star Grateful Dead Tie Dye Hi-top Tennis Shoes Men Size 10 MediumGrateful Dead Tie-dye Shirt Vintage 1994 Spectrum 50 October 5,6,7 Concert Gdm