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]

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    

Classic/psych Rock Lp Lot 7x Orig (led Zepp/rolling Stones/janis/grateful Dead)Jerry Garcia Band After Midnight Kean College 2/28/80 3 Cd Set Grateful DeadFd 26 Nm- Grateful Dead Kelley Mouse Handbill 1966 Family Dog AvalonGrateful Dead: 30 Trips Around The Sun 80-cd Set Complete Free Shipping Sold OutGrateful Dead-bonus Discs Grateful Dead Dick's Picks 36 The Spectrum, Philly 9/21/71 4 Cd Set *oop* Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 3: Wall Of Sound By Grateful Dead + Bonus Disc!Oop - Grateful Dead - Fare Thee Well - Complete Cd Blu Ray Edition - Lt. #'d Ed.Jerry Garcia Band Hampton Coliseum Va 11/9/1991 Pure Jerry 7 Grateful Dead 2 CdThe Grateful Dead 2 Lp "skull & Roses" Original Warner Bros. W Green Labels NmThe Grateful Dead Lp "aoxomoxoa" Original Warner Bros. W W7 Labels Nm-Grateful Dead Dave's Picks Volume 8 2013 Fox Theatre Atlanta 11/30/80 #12091Women's Small Grateful Dead Summer Tour 1986 Surfing Skeleton T-shirt The Grateful Dead 2 Lp "live/dead" Original Warner Bros. W W7 Labels & Insert NmZabriske Point Ost Pink Floyd Grateful Dead Mint Original 1970 Mgm In ShrinkGrateful Dead: Warner Bros. Studio Albums 5lp Box Set VinylThe Grateful Dead Lp "american Beauty" Original Warner Bros. "green Labels" NmGrateful Dead~workingman's Dead~rare Orig '70 Warner Brothers Lp~green Lbl~mint*grateful Dead Ltd/ed. 3-cd Box Set *dave’s Picks 17* Fresno, Ca 7/19/1974*Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Chicago Commemorative Ticket Stub 7/5/2015Grateful Dead Dicks Picks Volume 34 And 36.Pure Jerry Garcia Keystone Berkeley September 1 1974 3 Cd Grateful Dead Rare OopGrateful Dead Dick's Picks Volume 24 Cow Palace 1974 Gdcd4044 3/23/74 *oop*Grateful Dead~aoxomoxoa~rare Orig Unremixed '69 Warner Lp~green W7 Warner Lbl~nmWomen's Medium 1987 Vintage Grateful Dead Skeleton Band Tee T-shirt Dave's Picks, Vol. 17 By Grateful Dead (2016)The Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol. 18 Iowa 1978 3 CdThe Grateful Dead ‎– Live/dead Lp Album Vinyl Record Original 1969 Green LabelGrateful Dead Fare Thee Well Chicago Commemorative Ticket Stub 7/3/2015Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 2: Carousel By Grateful Dead (cd, Feb-1968, 2 Discs)Grateful Dead: American Beauty Lp Mobile Fidelity MfslChaser La Grateful Dead Vintage Short Sleeve T Shirt Size Small2 Grateful Dead Lps Live Dead With Insert - The History Of The Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol. 14 Boston 1973Grateful Dead - Dead In Cornell Part 1,2,3 1977 3cdNew Grateful Dead Vinyl 3lp Live Shrine Exposition Hall La 11/10/67 Limited 6700Women's Small 1987 Vintage Grateful Dead In The Dark Touch Of Grey Tee T-shirt Women's Vintage Small Grateful Dead Deadheads Blue Short Sleeve Fan T-shirt Men's Grateful Dead By Dragonfly 100% Polyester Short Sleeved Button Up Shirt XlDick's Picks, Vol. 32 By Grateful Dead (cd, Jan-2008, 2 Discs, Real Gone)Grateful Dead~wake Of The Flood~sealed Orig '73 Gd Records Lp~2d Cover VersionThe Grateful Dead "blues For Allah" Lp Original 1975 Vinyl Record AlbumGrateful Dead. Live Dead. Japanese Pressing. Excellent!Lot Of 2 Vinyl Lps -grateful Dead Dead Set (live), Bob Dylan Self PortraitJerry Garcia-all Good Things 6-cd Box Set;japanese;sealed;oop;grateful DeadRoad Trips Vol. 2 No. 2: Carousel By Grateful Dead (cd, Feb-1968, 2 Discs)Lot~fillmore East: April 1971 By Grateful Dead,dick's Pick's And Workman's DeadJerry Garcia Band Cats Under The Stars Cd Grateful Dead Hdcd Rare Studio AlbumGrateful Dead Vintage T Shirt Taper Tie Dye Xxl SizeGrateful Dead - Live At The Cow Palace-new Years Eve 1976 New SealedGrateful Dead - Dicks Picks Vol. 27 Oakland Coliseum December 16, 1992 3 Cd SetPromo Jerry Garcia Plays Bob Dylan Again Oop Cd Ep Dave's Picks Grateful DeadGrateful Dead: From The Mars Hotel Lp Mobile Fidelity MfslThe Grateful Dead Daybreak On The Land Vigotone 2 Cd NyThe Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol 12 Boston 1974 3 CdGrateful Dead 1983 Original Concert Poster Nevada County FairgroundsGrateful Dead: Europe 1972, Warner Records, 1st, 3lp, Booklet Oop Lp!The Grateful Dead - Dick's Picks Vol. 2 Columbus, Oh. CdGrateful Dead Aoxomoxoa Lp 1969 W/b 1st Press!! Orange Label!!!!3 Large Grateful Dead Shirts Size Large New Discounted

Recent News: Grateful Dead Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Grateful Dead memories: Valentine's Day 1968, Carousel Ballroom
Blasting News, February 6th

You love each other, and you're looking for that perfect Valentine's Day Grateful Dead show to celebrate, right? you could do worse than February 14th, 1968 -- the premiere night of San Francisco's Carousel Ballroom. If you've heard the Dead's infamous ...Read more

Andrew McMahon Covers Springsteen, The Grateful Dead at Billboard Lounge
Billboard, February 3rd

Performing at the Billboard Lounge in Barclays Center, McMahon played a shadowy loverman on Bruce Springsteen's “I'm on Fire” and a rambling outlaw-type of The Grateful Dead's “Friend of the Devil.” These two covers were the highlights of his five-song ...Read more

American Babies Play Grateful Dead Set With Steve Earle, Larry and Teresa ..., February 3rd

Yesterday on Cayamo Cruise, a Jam Cruise for Americana music, Tom Hamilton and his American Babies put together an all-Grateful Dead set that featured a slew of guests drawing from other artists on the boat. In a set that included Dead favorites like ...Read more

Grateful Dead's Bob Weir on Paul Kantner: 'His Guitar Was the Glue' That Held ...
Billboard, February 1st

The Airplane were always a little bigger than we were; they were a step or two ahead of the Grateful Dead in terms of acceptance. But there was no rivalry; there was a sense of camaraderie more than anything. It was a sense of, we were in it together...Read more

The National's Matt Berninger Talks Grateful Dead, Phish and More on New Podcast
Relix, February 1st

Coincidentally enough, Dead & Company were playing nearby, prompting a short discussion on the Grateful Dead as well as Phish and jambands in general. Berninger says that while he didn't grow up a Dead fan, The National bandmates Scott and Bryan ...Read more

50 Years Ago: Grateful Dead and Big Brother & the Holding Company Begin the ...
Ultimate Classic Rock, January 31st

On Jan. 21-23, 1966, the Longshoremen's Hall in San Francisco was the site of the Trips Festival. The event, which featured performances by the Grateful Dead and Big Brother & the Holding Company, is widely credited with being the start of the hippie ...Read more

Tom Constanten's Final Grateful Dead Show In 1970
JamBase, January 30th

Former Grateful Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten made his final appearance as an official member of the band on this date in 1970. The now infamous night is notorious for not only being the TC's last gig, but it was also the night the band was arrested...Read more

The Grateful Dead Literary-Industrial Complex Is A Long, Strange Trip All Its Own
Deadspin, January 15th

The Grateful Dead are with us, always—in the past year, inescapably so. In our modern, retromaniacal culture, their benevolent aims and DIY apparatuses, from ticketing to merch to bootlegging, have long been a refuge for their fans. And 2015 peaked...Read more