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]

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    

Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 1-12 + 3 Bonus Discs Limited EditionsGrateful Dead - July 3 - Mail Order - Fantastic Seats!!**** Grateful Dead 7/3 In Chicago **** 1 Ticket, Low Price!Grateful Dead Rick Griffin 1973 Wake Of The Flood Raven PosterGrateful Dead - July 5 - Mail Order - Fantastic Seats!! Grateful Dead Spring 1990 Box Set - Oop - Rare - #48/9000!!!Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Chicago TicketsGrateful Dead - July 4 - Mail Order - Fantastic Seats!! Fireworks Show!Grateful Dead 50 Fare Thee Well Chicago Soldier Field One 3 Day Pass Sec 254Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well (2) Gdtstoo Tickets Friday Night 7/3 Chicago!Grateful Dead - July 5 - Mail Order - Fantastic Seats!! Grateful Dead Rick Griffin 1969 Signed Avalon Aoxomoxoa Aor 2.24 PosterGrateful Dead Tix: Fare Thee Well 7/3-7/5 3-day Pass, Soldier Field, Chicago2 Tickets To The Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Tour 3 Day Ticket Chicago 7/3-5Grateful Dead 3 Day Pass Fare Thee Well Soldier Field Row 7!Fare Thee Well Grateful Dead (2) 3 Day Tickets - Very Close To Stage(2) Tickets Grateful Dead Soldier Field Chicago 7/3 Ga FieldWinterland June 1977: The Complete Recordings Box Set By Grateful Dead (cd,...Grateful Dead Fillmore West Blue Yellow Vinyl Lp Tmoq Vinyl Exc Clarity & Volume2 Grateful Dead Tickets Soldier Field Chicago Il Friday 7/3 Sec 121 Row 131 Cent Cd Dave's Picks Vol. 9 Harry Adams Field House Mt - Grateful Dead #2645Grateful Dead Wanted-live 1970 PosterGrateful Dead - (two) 3 Day Pass Soldier Field, Chicago - Fare Thee Well TicketsConcert Tix The Grateful Dead 'fare Thee Well' Friday Ticket 07-03-15 Ga Pit Vintage Grateful Dead 1981 Tour Shirt San Francisco Concert 80's SfGrateful Dead - Fare Thee Well - Two 3 Day PassesStanley Mouse Hand Colored Grateful Dead Skeleton And RosesGrateful Dead Fare Thee Well 2 Tickets July 5th Chicago Soldier Field 07/05/15Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 5 Pauley Pavilion Ucla, Los Angeles, Ca 11/17/73The Complete Grateful Dead Fillmore West 1969 #5999 Of Og Ltd Edition Of 10,000The Grateful Dead San Francisco 1 Red Lp Colored Vinyl Tmoq Vinyl Exc 160 G 527Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well July 3rd Full Stage View Section 438Rock Lp - Grateful Dead "without A Net" Arista Al3-8634 (3x Lp U.s. Press)Grateful Dead Jefferson Airplane 1966 Bg 30 Fillmore HandbillGrateful Dead 1981 Europe Tour Signed Original & Reprint PosterThe Grateful Dead - American Beauty - Mfsl Audiophile - Nm- Vinyl The Grateful Dead Continental Ballroom PosterThe Grateful Dead - Without A Net - Arista - 2xlp - Sealed Grateful Dead Blue Colored Vinyl Lp Not Tmoq Vinyl Exc 170g Exc Clarity & VolumeRoad Trips Vol. 2 No. 3: Wall Of Sound By Grateful Dead (cd, 1974, 2 Discs)Grateful Dead May 1977 14 Hdcd Numbered Limited Edition Oop Box SetThe Grateful Dead,from The Mars Hotel,1984 Mfsl Press.vg Cond. Playtested !Dick's Picks Vol. 28 Grateful Dead (4) Cd New Nebraska Salt Lake City 1973 2 Grateful Dead Tickets Chicago Soldier Field Sunday 7/5 440 Row 5 Final ShowGrateful Dead_dave's Picks, Vol. 11: Wichita, Ks 11/17/72 _ 3 Cd SetGrateful Dead 3 Day Pass Fare Thee WellZippo 1998 Rock Art Stanley Mouse 8 Pc Full Set, Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin NibGrateful Dead Dick's Picks 30 Volume Thirty Academy Of Music Ny 3/1972 4 Cd 1stGrateful Dead Dick's Picks 32 Volume Thirty Two 8/7/1982 Alpine Valley 2 Cd RgmVintage 1994 The Grateful Dead Seattle & Eugene Tour Stop Shirt T-shirt LargeGrateful Dead 1 Oz .999 Fine Silver Coin Steal Your Face #302 / 2000 Liquid BlueRare San Francisco Family Dog Concert Handbill Grateful Dead Frankenstein Fd 22Rare Original Grateful Dead 12" Vinyl~ Without A Net~ Live Triple Lp (al3-8634)Grateful Dead Dick's Picks Volume 19Grateful Dead: Wake Up To Find Out 3cds -- Nassau Coliseum 3/29/90Grateful Dead Phil Your Face 1998 Vintage T-shirt Lesh Jerry Garcia Furthur (2) Tickets To The Grateful Dead July 5th Chicago Soldier FieldGrateful Dead Houston Texas 11-18-1972 Live Rsd Double Vinyl Lp Nm/nm Grateful Dead Road Trips Vol.1 No.1 With Bonus Disc Factory Sealed Dave's Picks Grateful Dead; 3 Lp Lot; Workingman's Dead; Live/dead; Skull & Roses

Recent News: Grateful Dead Memorabilia

Source: Google News

David Grisman, Peter Rowan to Play Grateful Dead Set with The String Cheese ...
jambands.com, March 26th

The String Cheese Incident will play a special set at Gathering of the Vibes this year as the group will welcome guests Peter Rowan and David Grisman & Friends for a set of Grateful Dead and Old in the Way material. Even more, the band is calling on...Read more

Grateful Dead Rumored To Have Two Levi's Stadium Shows Planned
CBS Local, March 25th

The Grateful Dead have extended their 'Fare Thee Well' tour to include two concerts June 27-28 at Levi's Stadium.” Rumors had already been flying that the legendary Bay Area band would be playing the San Francisco area on their tour, which celebrates...Read more

The Grateful Dead
RollingStone.com, March 25th

Could any other band have conceivably won this poll? Back when most rock groups played the same carefully rehearsed 25-minute show over and over for months on end, the Grateful Dead were playing two-hour sets that changed wildly from night to night...Read more

That Time John Kasich Got Kicked off the Stage at a Grateful Dead Show
Bloomberg, March 25th

Telling the Grateful Dead you're a congressman is not going to get you onstage. This is way off the mark." Kasich said at the time that he thought his pass would get him on stage, so he argued a bit with the person who was telling him this was not the...Read more

Grateful Dead Auction is a Trip Down Memory Lane
Billboard, March 24th

Donley Auction Services in Union, Ill., about 50 miles northwest of the location of the Grateful Dead's “Fare Thee Well” shows in July, will handle the auction of items ranging from Stanley Mouse's original 1966 artwork for the Grateful Dead Fan Club...Read more

Grateful Dead Coming Home?
Pollstar, March 23rd

Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., is supposedly set to host the Grateful Dead June 27-28, the weekend before the July 3-5 residency at Soldiers Field, according to Sports Business Daily. Citing “sources,” the website says that promoter Peter...Read more

The biggest Grateful Dead auction ever is fun even if you're not a bidder.
Monterey County Weekly (blog), March 23rd

The moment when Stanley Miller and Alton Kelley first saw the drawing of a skeleton and roses (in a copy of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam at the San Francisco Public Library) is one of the classic moments of Grateful Dead synchronicity. It was, as Jerry ...Read more

Grateful Dead to be revived at Fairfield U. conference
Fairfield Citizen, March 23rd

The Grateful Dead will spring back to life Saturday when one of the foremost authorities on the counterculture band makes a presentation at a Fairfield University academic conference. The talk and slideshow by Nicholas Meriwether is planned at 4 p.m...Read more