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.

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    

Original 1967 Grateful Dead Whiskey A Go-go Fillmore-era Concert Poster1 Cent Cd Spring 1990 - Grateful Dead Rhino/18 Discs/tour Recordings/ltd/hdcdAbel Super 7/8n Large Arbor Grateful Dead Steal Your Face Fly Reel-collectable!Grateful Dead " Anthem Of The Sun "rare Superb Uk Orig Orange Warner StereoGrateful Dead Fillmore West Tmoq 2x Colored Splatter Vinyl Lp Rare GreatfulGrateful Dead Lot Of 4 Concert Posters Clean The Who Fillmore Bill Graham JerryGrateful Dead-winterland-june-77-complete Recording W/bonus DiscGrateful Dead, Dave's Picks V 8, Fox Theatre Atlanta 11/30/80, Mint 3 Hdcd SetGrateful Dead, Dave's Picks 2014 Bonus Disc, Rare & Oop Hdcd, 12/11/69 La ThelmaThe Grateful Dead - Winterland 1973 - 9 Cd Box Set Grateful Dead, Dave's Picks V 9, U Of Montana 5/14/74, Mint 3 Cd Hdcd Set, OopThe Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks Vol. 12 - Colgate Nov 1977 - Mint In ShrinkwrapGrateful Dead, Dave's Picks 2013 Bonus Disc, Rare & Oop Hdcd, 12/21/69 FillmoreGrateful Dead, Dave's Picks V 10, Thelma Los Angeles, 12/12/69, Oop 3 Disc Hdcd1 Cent 3cd Dick's Picks, Vol. 6: Hartford Civic Center - Grateful Dead LiveGrateful Dead Dave's Picks 2013 Bonus Cd Only ~ Rare Oop ~ Minty New ~ UnusedOriginal Grateful Dead Uptown Theatre Chicago 1981 Concert Poster Not Bg Fd AorGrateful Dead, Dave's Picks V 11, Wichita 11/17/72, Mint Oop 3 Disc HdcdThe Grateful Dead Aoxomoxoa Original Us Sealed PerfectGrateful Dead Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion Fan Club Fillmore-era PosterThe Grateful Dead Hofheinz Pavilion, Houston Tx 12" Vinyl 2lp Rsd Black FridayGrateful Dead Blues For Allah Scarce Orig Uk 75 Ex+ Lp With Elusive Lyric Sheet.Grateful Dead, Dave's Picks V 7, Illinois State, Normal, 4/24/78, Mint 3 HdcdGrateful Dead Fillmore West 1969 Bonus Disc Cd! 1-cd From Box Set Furthur GarciaGrateful Dead "aoxomoxoa" Canadian Lp *original Mix* Warner Ws 1790 Gold LabelStanley Mouse Grateful Dead PrintsOriginal 1980 Grateful Dead T Shirt From Original Owner - LargeJerry Garcia Garcia Plays Dylan Again Bonus Disc Cd Grateful Dead Bob DylanGrateful Dead Bonus Disc Cd Academy Of Music Nyc March 1972 Rockin' The RheinThe Grateful Dead - Tower Theater - Upper Darby, Pa - June 1976The Grateful Dead Europe '72 Wb Nm- Vinyl 3 Record Trifold W Insert Re-issueGrateful Dead "anthem Of The Sun" Canadian Lp *original Mix* Ws 1749 Gold LabelRare Grateful Dead Hockey Jersey Dead 1 Vintage Shirt Men's Xl Extra Large WhiteGrateful Dead Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 2 - Carousel Ballroom 2/14/68 [3 Cd W/bonus]The Grateful Dead - Swing Auditorium, San Bernardino, Ca February 26 & 27 1977New One From The Vault By Grateful Dead (vinyl, 3 Discs, Future Days)Grateful Dead, Dave's Picks V 6, 12/20/69 San Fran 2/2/70 St. Louis, Mint 3 HdcdThe Grateful Dead - Rfk Stadium, Washington, Dc June 9 And 10 1973Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead San Francisco Sf Giants Bobblehead Sga 8-1-12 SgaGrateful Dead Jerry Garcia Vintage 1980 Music Concert Tie Dye T-shirt Mens LHot Wheels Grateful Dead Volkswagen T1 Panel Bus. Mint Condition. Momc. Mimp. Road Trips Vol. 3 No. 1 - Grateful Dead Live 12/28/79 Oakland, Ca [3 Cd W/bonus]Grateful Dead: Dave's Picks Volume 8: Atlanta, Ga 11/30/80. New, Sealed, PromoThe Grateful Dead - Felt Forum - Msg - New York - December 1971Vintage Grateful Dead Tour T-shirt 1987 LargeGrateful Dead Beyond Description 12 Cd Box Set (1973-1989) Garcia FurtherVtg 1990 Grateful Dead Vw Bus T Shirt Xl No Other Band Delivers Higher FidelityThe Dead Spring Tour 2009 Charlottesville 3 Cd Grateful Dead Out Of PrintChaser La Grateful Dead Graphic Gray Burnout Long Sleeved Shirt Size MediumGrateful Dead Greatful Dead P-5042w 2lp Ak4461Grateful Dead 1987 Telluride Poster Jerry Garcia FurthurRoad Trips Vol. 2 No. 4 - Grateful Dead Live At Cal Expo May 26-27, 1993 (3 Cds)The Grateful Dead Santa Monica Sessions 2lp Rare Sealed 1981 Psych Folk Phish Lot Of 5 Grateful Dead Lp Records Originals Very Good + Jerry Garcia1 Cent Cd Dick's Picks Volume 2: Columbus, Oh, 10/31/71 - Grateful Dead LiveThe Grateful Dead - Paramount Theater, Portland, Or July 26 1972Zabriskie Point Lp Movie Soundtrack 1970 Mgm Pink Floyd Grateful Dead PsychGuitar Tablature Tab Sheet Music Books Lot Of 8 Grateful Dead & Bob Dylan Dvd2 Livephish Cd Binders W/ Bootleg Live Shows Phish Grateful Dead Jam BandsFossil Watch Grateful Dead New/orig. Box-coa #368/5000 Le-steal Your Face

Recent News: Grateful Dead Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Rock Scully, Grateful Dead's Manager Who Put the Band on Records, Dies at 73
New York Times, December 20th

Owsley Stanley, the notoriously prodigious maker of LSD, introduced Mr. Scully in 1965 to the scraggly, zonked-out members of a band that had just changed its name from the Warlocks to the Grateful Dead. “Rock's going to be your manager,” he said...Read more

Grateful Dead Themed “Bud and Breakfast” Opens in Colorado, December 19th

The Grateful Dead themed Bud + Breakfast Silverthorne has officially opened its doors to mountain tourists. The Mary Jane Group property represents the companies' second foray into Bud + Breakfasts, as the company also owns The Adagio in Denver, ...Read more

Rock Scully, the Grateful Dead's first manager, dies at 73
SFGate, December 19th

Rock Scully, the original manager of the Grateful Dead, who helped navigate the maverick San Francisco band through the wild and woolly period between 1965 and 1985, died Tuesday in his hometown of Monterey. He was 73. The cause was lung cancer, ...Read more

Little Girl Starts Subway Dance Party With Help From the Grateful Dead
Ultimate Classic Rock, December 14th

A New York City subway platform may seem like an odd place for a hoedown, but that's the nature of Williamsburg, Brooklyn these days. A recent video has gone viral thanks to a little girl dancing to 'Me and My Uncle,' a song popularized by the Grateful...Read more

Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia's love letters going up for auction
Fox News, December 14th

Two rare love letters from Grateful Dead lead singer Jerry Garcia to a female companion he met in the '80s are going up for sale. Garcia wrote the letters, which include a phone number and a sketch of the band performing at an amphitheater, to a former ...Read more

Searching for Shalom: Judaism & the Grateful Dead
Relix, December 12th

There are many Jews who take to both Judaism and the Grateful Dead like bees to honey. This phenomenon shouldn't be surprising. It certainly isn't incongruous. First of all, by definition, serious adherents of both groups are true seekers in search of...Read more

Grateful Dead tribute event 'Mobile's Dead' could be the biggest show on ..., November 26th

MOBILE, Alabama - If fellowship is the cure for loneliness then LoDa is going to be the most illuminated place in town tonight. For the second straight year, some of the best musicians the area has ever produced will gather to pay homage to the...Read more

The Power of No: An Interview With Former Grateful Dead Manager Richard Loren
Newsweek, November 23rd

Legend has it that when the suits from Warner Bros. came from L.A. to visit the Grateful Dead in San Francisco in the '60s—and what suits they wore! blue blazers with the WB logo emblazoned on them—they wouldn't take any food or drink from the band ...Read more