Grateful Dead merchandise rising in value
NEW YORK — It isn't the Grateful Dead's music that is likely to become collectible now that Jerry Garcia, the band's leader, is gone, say experts on the group and its memorabilia.
It is the bits and pieces of the band - ticket stubs, posters, paintings of (and by) Garcia, neckties that he designed - that are likely to increase in value over the years.
The Grateful Dead's official recordings sold millions of copies, and millions more were made by fans. The group not only didn't discourage bootleggers but actually encouraged them, providing a place at concerts for people to rig microphones and tape decks.
Since hundreds of thousands of people attended their concerts and bought their recordings, there is likely to be a rise in demand for the group's merchandise, says Les Kippel, a fan and publisher of Relix, a magazine devoted to the counterculture surrounding the band.
"If you take the fact that Jerry's death was front-page on every newspaper and the top story on every news report, that indicates the true extent of his effect on the entire culture," Mr. Kippel says. "How many people are going to want a part of him now is undetermined. I think the demand is going to be significant."
It may be ironic that the group, led by Garcia - who died last week after years of a grueling life on the road and a history of drug abuse - remained one of the least commercial of rock acts.
Perhaps it is a further irony that since the Dead partook in so little commercial licensing, the memorabilia that does exist could appreciate faster than that from other bands.
Garcia autographs, for example, were selling for $50 to $100 before the guitarist and songwriter died, but they could now be worth substantially more.
Kippel said that at an upcoming auction, Christie's will feature a poster of the Jerry Garcia Band, another group the musician led, with a matching handbill from a 1976 concert.
Before Garcia died, the poster and handbill were expected to fetch about $2,000, but now that could rise as high as $5,000, Kippel said.
Not everyone is so sure of the group's sudden rise in popularity. Jeff Tamarkin, editor of Goldmine, a magazine for music collectors, said the band's music is so widespread it will not become collectible. Also, many fans preferred to barter rather than buy or sell merchandise, he notes.