10 amazing items “from the safe”

The bear chemistry set, Jerry Garcia’s briefcase and personal papers, and Pigpen’s Wurlitzer are among the items up for auction.

By Scott Bernstein October 7, 2021 1:48 p.m. PDT

Today, Sotheby’s launched From The Vault: Owned by The Grateful Dead and Friends, an auction showcasing a treasure trove of items from the legendary band’s career, including instruments, musical gear, clothing, posters, memorabilia, and many other incredible lots. From the vault until Thursday, October 14.

Items offered for auction come from the warehouse of Grateful Dead Productions and the collections of GD team and family members such as “Big” Steve Parish, Lawrence “Ram Rod” Shurtliff and Dan Healy. “We are examining the entire history of the Grateful Dead from the late 1960s to 1995,” Richard Austin, global head of books and manuscripts at Sotheby’s, told Jesse Jarnow for a GQ article. Austin has been compiling the unique items for this auction “over the past few years,” according to Jarnow, who took a look at the collection.

“What’s great about all of this is that there is a patina that comes from touring and using,” Austin added. “We cleaned up a lot, but we left some of it more or less as it was. The fact that something is scarred or there are bumps on it is just part of the story. Below, find 10 particularly surprising lots currently on auction:

The pants of Jerry Garcia in a nude suit

By 1973, the members of the Grateful Dead each had costumes prepared by legendary Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors, who designed bespoke costumes for Elvis Presley, Lefty Frizzell, Cher, Gram Parsons, Elvis Presley and a who’s who of musical royalty ever since. opening in the 1940s. The skull embroidered pants designed by Nudie from Jerry Garcia’s costume are auctioned off and valued between $ 20 and $ 30,000.

“We were in Los Angeles in 1973. We decided to go to Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors on a lark,” Parish explained. “They were famous for dressing all the country artists and we were heading to Texas soon. All of the band members designed their own costumes. The costumes were worn for a few shows, especially in Texas where we played with Doug Sahm. Jerry gave the jacket to someone later, and the pants to Ram Rod.


Ram Rod Merry Pranksters Jumpsuit

Before Lawrence “Ram Rod” Shurtliff started working for the Grateful Dead, he was part of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters team. Ram Rod’s hand-painted jumpsuit with Orange, Yellow and Pink Day Glo paint is the third lot in the auction. The outfit dates back to 1966 and includes “Road” painted on the back and “RAMROD” adorning the left breast pocket.

Scheduled to fetch between $ 20 and $ 30,000, here’s a chance to own a cool piece from an important era in American counterculture. All the wear and tear makes it all the more interesting.


Owsley ‘Bear’ Stanley Chemistry Tools

Owsley “Bear” Stanley is described by Jarnow in his excellent book Heads as the man “most responsible for the psychedelization of the United States”. Stanley was a chemical genius who produced at least 1.25 million hits of LSD in the mid-1960s according to Sotheby’s listing. Bear was also an innovative sound engineer who helped The Dead create the Wall Of Sound, known for his incredible recordings of live shows of The Dead and many other artists of the time.

The second lot of the auction is described as “the last vestiges of Owsley’s clandestine LSD laboratory”. Anyone who rides ponies valued at $ 10-15,000 will receive a set that includes a “glass beaker, red and green striped glass bottle, glass bottle with the label printed” Champion Concentrated Embalming Fluid, ” pyrex, glass rods, a metal rod and two thermometers.


Cornell ’77 T-shirt

Longtime Grateful Dead sound engineer Dan Healy has compiled an insane collection of t-shirts over the years and there’s one in particular that stands out. Up for auction, an official GD t-shirt from the band’s legendary May 8, 1977 concert at Barton Hall at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

An immaculate soundboard of the performance circulated among fans for a decade before Betty Cantor-Jackson’s recording was officially released in 2017. Many Deadheads consider it one of the best Grateful Dead shows ever. play. The show’s t-shirt from the Healy collection has never been worn and is expected to fetch between $ 600 and $ 800.


Bob Weir’s telecaster

Grateful Dead guitarist Bob weir put his 1969 Rosewood Fender Telecaster guitar up for auction. The instrument is a beauty, made in America with all original parts except the “modified volume and tone pots”.

You can own Bobby’s guitar, but it won’t be cheap. The lot is expected to fetch between $ 20 and $ 25,000 and is reserved for US buyers.


Power amp sound wall

Bear designed the massive “Wall Of Sound” PA system for the Grateful Dead to use in 1974. The McIntosh MC-2300 amps helped power the Wall Of Sound. One of these amps, with a Stealie sticker on the front, is auction lot 39 and comes with its original road case.

Parish confirmed that the amp was used in the Wall Of Sound. The MC-2300 used to be owned by Grateful Dead productions, but it’s now up for auction and is expected to fetch between $ 3 and $ 5,000.


20th anniversary tour backdrop

The Grateful Dead performed against a huge backdrop designed by psychedelic artist Rick Griffin for their 20th anniversary tour in 1985. Griffin’s blue and white backdrop (approx 238 x 300 ″) features “Grateful Dead | Twenty Years So Far ”printed under a skeleton holding a guitar and an American flag.

The backdrop that was hung behind the Grateful Dead during the tour is being auctioned off. As Sotheby’s notes, it is “worn from use, some tears closed, but shiny and intact”. Unsurprisingly, this is one of the most valuable items available at the auction, valued at between $ 50 and $ 70,000.


Jerry Garcia’s briefcases and papers

Jerry Garcia’s former personal assistant Vince DiBiase ended up with one of the guitarist’s cases. The red leather briefcase – believed to have been used by Jerry from 1977 to 1979 – is up for tender and comes with handwritten lyrics, drawings, letters, and ephemera.

Garcia’s handwritten lyrics to Bob Dylan’s “Going, Going, Gone” and “Tough Mama” as well as Hank Ballard’s “Tore Up Over You” are among the highlights included in the bundle. There is also a letter written to Jerry from his daughter, Annabelle Garcia, when she was about seven years old. But this is only the beginning. Be sure to check out the full list to find out more what the winner of the prize – estimated to be between $ 30 and $ 50,000 – will get.


Wurlitzer from Pigpen

The Wurlitzer 120 electric piano by original Grateful Dead keyboardist Ron “Pigpen” McKernan from the 60s is a real gem. “The last of his keyboards, bought by Pigpen himself in the mid to late 1960s,” Parish revealed. “Used by Pigpen for rehearsals and concerts.”

Although there is a broken key, the piano comes with its feet and has an Oakland Leo’s Music Incorporated sticker on the back. Considering the estimates for some of the other lots, the estimate between $ 5 and $ 10,000 doesn’t look that bad.


Bob Dylan’s guitar played with the Grateful Dead

Bob Dylan teamed up with the Grateful Dead for the “Dylan And The Dead” tour in 1987. The Dead supported Dylan and also performed their own sets at these stadium shows. Bob Dylan’s Washburn guitar used during the race was donated to Bob Weir and is being auctioned.

The Washburn EA-20 cutaway acoustic electric model from circa 1986 is described as being in “good condition”. However, the bridge lifts off the body and there is a loose outlet socket inside the ax. It is estimated that the guitar earns between $ 5 and $ 7,000.



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