Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Old Yuppies Make Grateful Dead Auction Expensive

During their heyday, the Grateful Dead promised in their folksy lyrics to "steal your face right off your head."

Dedicated Deadheads probably lost their shirts and a lot more earlier this week in San Francisco when big bidders brought in more than $1.1 million during an auction of memorabilia collected by the group's longtime road manager, Lawrence “Ram Rod” Shurtliff.
Everything from guitars to ticket stubs kept by Lawrence "Ram Rod" Shurtliff during his decades-long stint coordinating the rock band's legendary touring operation were on the auction block.

Other items included drug syringes, groupie’s bras and panties, used patchouli oil, trampled concert blankets, hair clipped from Jerry Garcia’s beard, Bob Weir’s stool samples, Pigpen’s dandruff, Mickey Hart’s toenail clippings and Bill Kreutzmann’s very first toupee.

"He just really loved the band and he didn't want to see any of their equipment or stuff thrown away," said Margaret Barrett, director of entertainment memorabilia for Bonhams & Butterfields Auctioneers, which was staging the sale in San Francisco. "He didn't want their legacy to go away."

“People who want to bid on these items better bring money. Some Deadheads have said that they want to trade beads, used roaches and happy thoughts for items. Don’t even try that crap.”
Auctioneers predicted that doctors, lawyers and entrepreneurs - many of whom wore flowers in their hair to the Dead's early shows - would gladly pay a premium for ordinary items touched by band members, including Jerry Garcia, a founding member who served as lead guitarist and vocalist. Now that these people have sold out to the man, they want to re-capture their pasts.
The auction house expected a 1975 cream-colored electric guitar played by Garcia during some of the Dead's most famous shows to bring between $250,000 and $300,000.

Deadheads bidding by phone and in the crowded auction room bid up prices for band photos, original album artwork, guitars and other musical gear collected by Shurtcliff over decades.

A leather guitar strap worn by Garcia on stage around 1973 sold for $20,400 – four times the estimated selling price. A flight case containing Garcia’s picks, unopened guitar strings and other accessories sold for $16,800.

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