Formed in 1965 in San Francisco, 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 a 19th-century copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the poster became known as Skull & 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
CMU's One Liners: The Grateful Dead, Queen, Aaliyah and moreComplete Music Update, September 22nd
Partially-dead rock band The Grateful Dead (pictured) have signed a revitalising 50th anniversary deal with Universal Music Publishing Group, Billboard has confirmed, so fancy that. • That slightly iffy Aaliyah TV biopic 'Princess Of R&B' is finally...Read more
Bonnaroo, Grateful Dead set wheels of love in motionThe Tennessean, September 20th
The first time Stephanie O'Keefe, 28, met Jake Hill, 29, it was in 2006 when he stuck his head into her room while she was a business student at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. A high school friend of her roommate, Hill was drawn to the Grateful...Read more
Exclusive: The Grateful Dead Ink Publishing Deal With UniversalBillboard, September 19th
How does a band mark a 50th anniversary as an event rather than a footnote? Universal Music Publishing Group thinks it has a plan to breathe new life into The Grateful Dead. Formed in 1965, the iconic psychedelic act toured up until a month before...Read more
So Many Roads | Grateful Dead Interdisciplinary ConferenceJamBase, September 18th
So Many Roads – the World In the Grateful Dead, is an interdisciplinary conference celebrating the diverse roles the iconic American band has played in arts and culture since their formation nearly 50 years ago that will be held November 5 - 8 in San...Read more
Grateful Dead, Phish, Disco Biscuits Cover Bands to Play "Evolution of Jam" Showjambands.com, September 18th
A trio of jamband cover acts will join forces for an “Evolution of Jam” show at Drom in New York City on Saturday, November 15. Reckoning (a tribute to the Grateful Dead), Uncle Ebenezer (a tribute to Phish) and Tactorbear (a tribute to The Disco...Read more
Hearing Aide: Grateful Dead 'Wake Up to Find Out'UpstateLIVE, September 16th
603497898268 Culled from a tour now represented by two box sets and a number of official releases, the new Grateful Dead vault release, Wake Up to Find Out captures the most famous and arguably the most powerful performance of the Spring 1990 tour ...Read more
Stormy Mondays | Grateful Dead 1974 Retrospective Part 6JamBase, September 8th
There isn't much left to cover in this Grateful Dead 1974 retrospective (Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five), but we certainly have to touch on the topic of “Seastones," formerly known as “Phil & Ned.” Phil Lesh and Ned Lagin...Read more
10 Tales From Branford Marsalis' Time Spent With the Grateful DeadWall Street Journal (blog), September 8th
On March 29, 1990, the Grateful Dead played the 12th show of their spring tour at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum. It would be the first night of a handful of collaborations where a young saxophonist named Branford Marsalis would join the band on stage...Read more