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
Couch Tour Alert | Phil Lesh & Friends Honor 1981 Grateful DeadJamBase, August 30th
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 for each of the years the band was in action. Tonight Terrapin Crossroads hosts a...Read more
Record Bin: How the Grateful Dead rose above their jam band roots on ...Nooga.com, August 29th
No other band, with the possible exception of Phish, has been associated with the jam band movement longer and has more die-hard defenders than the Grateful Dead. Their rootsy, folk-ish jams have been the source of inspiration for countless fans and ...Read more
Not your (grand)father's Grateful DeadChicago Tribune, August 28th
The Grateful Dead came to Chicago in July amid considerable hoopla, playing at Soldier Field to sold-out crowds of nostalgic 40-to-60 somethings and enthusiastic millennials, many fitted out in their tie-dyed best while snapping pictures on their iPhones...Read more
Phil Lesh & Friends Pay Tribute To Grateful Dead 1980 At TerrapinJamBase, August 28th
Phil Lesh & Friends' series of shows honoring each year of Grateful Dead continued last night at Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael, California; where the bassist and his band used the same setlist the Dead did on June 21, 1980 at West High Auditorium...Read more
Pitcher Jake Peavy Covers Grateful Dead & Jason IsbellJamBase, August 28th
MLB Network's The Rundown recently featured a profile on San Francisco Giants pitcher Jake Peavy which focused on his love of music. Peavy likes to wind down by playing guitar and singing. In the clip below he shows off his talents by performing...Read more
Lib at Large: Former Grateful Dead keyboardist offers a jazzy twist on the ...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 AlbumJamBase, 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
Grateful Dead alums announce Dead & Company tourThe 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