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 Europe 72' Box Set - 73 Cd's W/ Both Books And Sticker1 Cent Cd Dave's Picks V2 Dillon Stadium - Grateful Dead Sealed Bonus Disc 4cdEurope '72: The Complete Recordings #0049! [limited] By Grateful DeadHuge 269 Cd Lot Ex Collection Grateful Dead,led Zeppelin-beatlesSinging Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead San Francisco Sf Giants Bobblehead Sga 8-1-121 Cent Cd Dave's Picks Vol 5 Pauly Pavilion Uc La 1973 - Grateful Dead SealedGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 2 Hartford Ct 7/31/1974 4 Cd Set W/bonus CdSinging Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead San Francisco Sf Giants Bobblehead Sga 8-1-12Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 1 The Mosque Richmond Va 5/25/77 1977 3 Cd SetGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 3 Auditorium Theatre Chicago Il 10/22/1971 3 CdsGrateful Dead Spring 1990 Too (the Other One) 23 Cd Limited Box Set Jerry GarciaRick Griffin Poster Grateful Dead Quicksilver Hippie Art 1976 European Ltd EdBg 45 Grateful Dead Junior Wells Fd Family Dog Fillmore Era PosterGrateful Dead - Europe '72 Complete Cd Box Set - New/sealed/numberedGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 4 William&mary Williamsburg Va 9/24/1976 3 CdsFree People Graphic Grateful Dead Top Sz M We The Free Grateful Dead Road Trips Vol. 3 No. 3 Fillmore East 5/15/70 W/ Bonus Disc SealedRick Griffin Poster Grateful Dead Avalon Ballroom Aoxomoxoa Hippie Art Ltd EdGrateful Dead Spring 1990 Box Set Box SetGrateful Dead Winterland 1977 Box Set W/bonus Disc Dave's Picks-road Trips-jerryGrateful Dead: May 1977 (14 Cd Box Set, Sold Out, Like New)Grateful Dead Dicks Picks Volume 5 5xlp 180 Gram Vinyl Lp Box Set Sealed NewRare! Vtg 80s Grateful Dead Shirt, 1981 European Tour, Stanley Mouse, Sz L1 Cent Cd Dave's Picks Vol 10 Thelma La 69 - Grateful Dead Sealed Bonus Disc 4cdRick Griffin Poster Grateful Dead Hog Farm Hippie Art 1976 European Ltd EditionGrateful Dead 2013 Dave's Picks Volume 5 Live Ucla 1973 Promo Hdcd Cd SealedFillmore: The Last Days - 3lp Box - Poster - 45 - Grateful Dead - Bill GrahamGrateful Dead - Dave's Picks - Volume 1 Cd - New/sealed/numbered - Oop RareGrateful Dead Spring 1990 The Other Ones Box SetLot Of 6 Grateful Dead Albums Lp's & Booklet In The DarkGrateful Dead 2014 Rsd Record Store Day 5/4/79 Hampton Unsealed ExcellentMay 1977 * By Grateful Dead (cd, Jun-2013, 14 Discs, Rhino (label))The Grateful Dead 12 Lp Lot W So Far Vhs Video & Autographed Kingfish LpRock Lp/ Grateful Dead "europe '72" ~ Orig Stereo Warner Bros ~ Near Mint + BookGrateful Dead 3lp Europe 72 - Rare White Label Promo! - Hype Sticker - BookletChaser Gray Grateful Dead Graphic Raglan Casual Top Shirt S BhfoGrateful Dead "out West" Live Double Tmoq Lp W. Stout Cover, Hollywood PalladiumThe Grateful Dead Doublelp Live/dead Warner Bros Record 1st Press Excellent CopyJ Garcia Jerry Garcia Grateful Dead Banyan Trees Limited Edition Silk Tie -new-Road Trips Vol. 1 No. 2: October By The Grateful Dead Plus Bonus Disc Brand NewVintage Reel To Reel Tape Music Grateful Dead Workingman's Dead 7 1/2" 1990 Grateful Dead Arista Original Without A Net Promo Poster Rick GriffinGrateful Dead 1966 Concert Poster Bg 51 2nd PrintingGrateful Dead - Warner Bros. 5 Lp Box Set With Poster, 45rpm Record & Liner BookGrateful Dead - Dave's Picks - Vol. 6 Cd - New/sealed/bonus Disc - OopGrateful Dead Dicks Picks Vol 4 Vinyl 6xlp Box Set New Sealed /2000Owsley Stanley Bronze Steal Your Face Belt Buckle1977 Grateful Dead Cornell Barton Hall Greatest Show Ever Unused Concert Ticket Lot (4) Grateful Dead Albums..mars Hotel, Shakedown Street Blues For Allah, +Grateful Dead Dicks Picks Vol 3 Vinyl 4xlp Box Set New Sealed VolumeGrateful Dead 1992 Spring Tour - Short Sleeve T-shirt L Grateful Dead Dave's Picks 9, 10 W/ Bonus Disc, 11, 12 Brand New Jerry GarciaDave's Picks Volume 8: Fox Theatre, Atlanta, Ga 11/30/80 By Grateful Dead...Grateful Dead Concert Ticket Stubs With CollectionGrateful Dead "wake Up To Find Out" 3-cds 3/29/90 Uniondale, NyVtg Grateful Dead Shirt Sz Xs 83' Rolling Stones Beatles Bob Dylan Phish JopplinGrateful Dead Big River In Philly Philadelphia Spectrum September 14 1987 2 CdsGrateful Dead Scarlett Mountain Kaiser Stadium Oakland Ca March 18 1988 2 CdsThe Grateful Dead-1973 Rare Ticket Stub & Newspaper Clipping (watkins Glen)1975 Uk Orig. Grateful Dead Lp €

Recent News: Grateful Dead Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Bonnaroo, Grateful Dead set wheels of love in motion
The 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 Universal
Billboard, 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 Conference
JamBase, 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" Show
jambands.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

1979 News Feature Attempts To Explain Grateful Dead
JamBase, September 17th

Now that the entire Music Vault archive is being posted on YouTube there continues to be noteworthy clips surfacing. One of the latest, as pointed out by The Key, is a six-minute at times cringe-worthy, at times interesting feature on the Grateful Dead...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

10 Tales From Branford Marsalis' Time Spent With the Grateful Dead
Wall 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

Grateful Dead guitarist reunited with prized guitar after robbery
Page Six, August 21st

Rocker Buddy Cage — a guitarist for the Grateful Dead offshoot New Riders of the Purple Sage — got back his beloved pedal steel guitar on Thursday after a thief in the East Village swiped it 12 years ago, The Post has learned. “I'm thrilled — still...Read more