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    

Emek 2015 Grateful Dead Poster - Fare Thee Well - Soldier Field - Chicago 52/150Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks Volume1, The Mosque,richmond,va 5/25/77, Ltd Edit.1 Cent Cd Dave's Picks Volume 4 - Grateful Dead 3cd Sealed Un-numbered Ltd EdGrateful Dead - Dave's Picks Volume3, ,chicago,10/22/74 ,ltd Edit.Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks Volume 4,college,williamsburg, Va9/24/76 ,ltd Edit.Grateful Dead - Dave's Picks Volume2, Dillon St., Hartford,ct 7/31/74, Ltd Edit.Dave's Picks, Vol. 7: Horton Field House Unnumbered Promo Sealed Grateful DeadGrateful Dead - Dave's Picks Bonus 1cd 2012, Cc Landover,md 7/29/74 ,ltd Edit.Converse New Mens 8 / Womens 10 Grateful Dead Tie Dye Canvas Sneakers Shoes RGrateful Dead Dave's Pick's Volumes 5,6,7 & 8 Plus 2013 Bonus DiscGrateful Dead Dave's Picks 4 Volume Four 9/24/1976 William & Mary Virginia 3 CdGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol 9 Univ. Of Montana, Missoula, Mt 5/14/74 Sealed!!Dave's Picks, Vol. 10: Thelma, Los Angeles, Ca 12/12/69 Grateful Dead + Bonus CdGrateful Dead Fare Thee Well Commemorative Mail Order Ticket Stubs Set Of Three!Grateful Dead 1980 Warfield Theater Aor 4.45 Bill Graham Poster Grateful Dead Poster - 2015 - Fare Thee Well - Gd50 - Welker - Limited To 20151 Cent Cd Road Trips Vol. 2 No. 1 Bonus Disc - Grateful Dead Limited/liveAble Super 5n Grateful Dead Dancing Bears Fly Reel New!! Mint!! #243 Of 250The Grateful Dead Test Pressing What A Long Strange Trip It's Been Vinyl 2x LpGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Volume 12 Colgate University 11/4/77 Brand New SealedGrateful Dead, Beyond Description (1973-1989) ~ 12 Cd Hdcd Box SetFare The Well-santa Clara, Ca-grateful Dead-celebrating 50 YearsGrateful Dead Spirit Of '76 Live At The Cow Palace - Bonus Disc Cd 1976 Tour Usa1972 Wb 7" Promo Lot: Grateful Dead + Jerry Garcia + Mickey HartGrateful Dead – Anthem Of The Sun ~ Rare 1st Press/mix - 1968 Wb/seven ArtsDave's Picks, Vol. 11: Wichita, Ks 11/17/72 Grateful Dead 3cd Sealed NumberedRoad Trips Vol. 2 No. 3: Wall Of Sound By Grateful Dead (cd, 1974, 2 Discs)Grateful Dead Dicks Picks Vol.5 Oakland Auditorium 12/26/79 3cd SetGrateful Dead Watkins Glen Ny July 28 1973 Grand Prix Racecourse 4 CdsGrateful Dead Poster - Soldier Field Chicago 2015 By Justin Helton - MintFtw Grateful Dead Posters Santa Clara Vip Justin Helton Status SerigraphGrateful Dead - Dave's Picks Vols. 7,14,15 - Niw - Sold Out!!!Grateful Dead Electric Kool-aid Acid Test Kesey Not Tmoq Psych Colored VinylGrateful Dead - Fare Thee Well - Original Justin Helton China CatGrateful Dead Poster - 7/5/2015 - Fare Thee Well - Gd50 - Munk One - Limited Grateful Dead Poster - 7/4/2015 - Fare Thee Well - Gd50 - Munk One - Limited Grateful Dead Poster - Fare Thee Well - Gd50 - Status - Helton - Limited To 2015Grateful Dead Poster - Fare Thee Well - Gd50 - Everett - 3d - Limited To 2015Ex-/ex The Grateful Dead - Anthem Of The Sun Orig Usa Rare Albino White Cover!Abel Super 7/8n Grateful Dead Dancing Bears Fly Reel New!! Mint!! #91 Of 250Grateful Dead • Summer Getaway 2003 The Rocks • 12 Cd’s • 7/6, 7/7, 7/8 & 7/11Grateful Dead Beyond Description (1973-1989) - 12 Cd Hdcd Box Set Mint ConditionDave's Picks Vol. 11: Wichita, Ks 11/17/72 Grateful Dead - Free Sticker!!Grateful Dead Road Trips Vol 4 #1 Big Rock Pow Wow '691967 Bill Graham Fillmore Poster Bg-45: Wes Wilson, Grateful Dead, The DoorsGrateful Dead Poster - Fare Thee Well - Gd50 - Alan Forbes - Limited To 2015Grateful Dead - American Beauty (dvd Audio, 2001)Grateful Dead May 1977 14 Disc Box Set Cd With Book Insert Like New MintGrateful Dead - Fare Thee Well By Munk One. Poster Set 7/3 7/4 7/5 Soldier FieldGrateful Dead Dave's Picks Vol. 8 Atlanta, Ga 11/30/80 3 Cd SetGrateful Dead – Hampton '79 ~ Ltd Ed 180 Gram - 2014 Rsd 2lp Gatefold - NmGrateful Dead - Self Titled - Rock Reel To Reel 4 Track 3.75 IpsGrateful Dead Chicago Poster Gd50 Fare Thee Well Print Terrapin Crate FoilGrateful Dead Aoxomoxoa Psych Original Green W7 LabelJerry Garcia Band Tour Shirt 1993 Vintage Size Xl Grateful DeadGrateful Dead - Out Of Your Skull (buffalo 1977) 2cd'sRoad Trips Vol. 3 No. 2: Austin By Grateful Dead (cd, Nov-1971, 2 Discs) Bonus Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Towel Tapestry Fare Thee WellGrateful Dead Fare Thee Well Commemorative Mail Order Ticket Stub Friday 7/3Grateful Dead Fare Thee Well Hat 50th Soldier Field Cap Syf Gd50 Official 50 Ftw

Recent News: Grateful Dead Memorabilia

Source: Google News

Lib at Large: Former Grateful Dead keyboardist honors band a jazzy twist on ...
Marin Independent Journal, August 27th

Tom Constanten is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a keyboard player with the Grateful Dead. He was the second of the band's many keyboardists, his tenure lasting from 1968 to 1970. Although he's called the gig “a magic carpet ride,” he never...Read more

Stream This | Dan Auerbach Grateful Dead Inspired Album
JamBase, August 27th

The side project and album were announced by Rolling Stone a few months back when Auerbach revealed the LP was in part inspired by the Grateful Dead. "I just wanted to do my thing and get extra weird," Auerbach told Rolling Stone. "I wanted everything ...Read more

Numero Group Wants Your Grateful Dead Tapes
JamBase, August 26th

Archival record label Numero Group wants your old Grateful Dead bootleg cassettes. The Chicago-based label's shipping department features a pair of Deadheads who spin Grateful Dead cassettes all day and are looking to expand their collection. Numero ...Read more

Pick What Grateful Dead Year Phil & Friends Will Play At Free Show
JamBase, August 25th

This year to celebrate the Grateful Dead's 50th anniversary, Phil Lesh is performing a series of Phil Lesh & Friends shows at his Terrapin Crossroads venue in San Rafael to honor certain years of Grateful Dead history. Today the venue has announced...Read more

Grateful Dead's 30 Trips Around the Sun: First Look at Box, Premiere of “Cream ...
Relix, August 25th

In commemoration of the Grateful Dead's 50th anniversary, the latest box set from the band will span the group's touring career. 30 Trips Around the Sun presents one live show per year from 1966 through 1995. The set, which will be released on...Read more

Red Sox will host Grateful Dead Night at Fenway Park, August 25th

While the playoffs may not be in their future, the Red Sox will instead celebrate 50 years of America's original jamband, hosting Grateful Dead Night at Fenway on September 21 as the Sox take on the Tampa Bay Rays. With the purchase of each ticket...Read more

Grateful Dead Members Announce Tour Fronted by John Mayer, August 25th

While the Grateful Dead may have come and gone following the conclusion of their 50th anniversary Fare Thee Well tour, the Dead's Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann announced they would assemble a reincarnation dubbed Dead & Company ...Read more

Grateful Dead alums announce Dead & Company tour
The San Diego Union-Tribune, August 25th

The Grateful Dead is not going quietly into that good night. In fact, the legendary Bay Area band — which performed the last of its five "Fare The Well" farewell concerts on July 5 at Chicago's Soldier Field — doesn't appear to be going anywhere at...Read more