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.
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
Grateful Dead, John Mayer giving away 10K tickets to NY showWSET, October 6th
In this Feb. 8, 2015, file photo, John Mayer arrives at the 57th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Members of the Grateful Dead and Mayer are giving 10,000 free tickets to their concert next month. (Photo by Jordan ...Read more
Grateful Dead Reserve Wine Launches Celebrating 50th AnniversaryPR Newswire (press release), October 6th
NEW YORK, Oct. 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Wines That Rock, innovators of rock 'n roll inspired wines, today announced the launch of a limited edition wine commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Grateful Dead. Limited at 250 cases, this special reserve ...Read more
Grateful Dead members give out free tickets after huge reunionCTV News, October 5th
NEW YORK - Members of the Grateful Dead on Monday announced a largely free show in New York after a recent farewell reunion by the rock legends brought out massive interest. Dead & Company -- as the new version of the band calls itself after retiring ...Read more
Petition Calls For Grateful Dead to Play Super Bowl 50 Halftime ShowNBC Bay Area, October 2nd
“To commemorate 50 years of Super Bowl history, what better group of musical engineers to set a precedent during such an occasion…than the remaining members of The Grateful Dead!” wrote petition creator David Merchado on Change.Org...Read more
JerryFest in Five Points: A celebration of Jerry Garcia, Grateful DeadThe State, September 29th
“This year's concert marks the 30th anniversary of the Grateful Dead's concert in Columbia (Oct. 31, 1985), the Grateful Dead's 50th anniversary as a band and the 100th anniversary of Five Points as Columbia's original neighborhood village,” Amy Beth ...Read more
Behind The Song: The Grateful Dead, “Ripple”American Songwriter, September 29th
As a result of their well-deserved reputation as the preeminent live act of their era, it's understandable that the studio recordings of The Grateful Dead can be somewhat overshadowed. Along those same lines, the songwriting prowess of the band, which...Read more
Grateful Dead fans start petition for band to play Super Bowl 50 halftimeYahoo Sports (blog), September 25th
Well, I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong ... and darn it, hear me out a second: Why shouldn't the Grateful Dead — or what's left of them — play halftime of Super Bowl 50 in the San Francisco-ish area next February? A group of fans agrees...Read more
After the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh Shows He Has a Head for BusinessNew York Times, September 19th
A few times a month, Sam Satenstein lines up outside Terrapin Crossroads, a music hall and restaurant in San Rafael, Calif., for performances by the band Phil Lesh and Friends. The hall is owned by Mr. Lesh, the 75-year-old Grateful Dead bassist, and...Read more