This year would have been the 70th birthday of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, had not a heart attack ended his life at the age of 53. Last year, one of the great man's guitars – his Lucky 13 – was auctioned on eBay for charity, and next month memorabilia from the influential player's life will go under the hammer at Bonhams San Francisco on the anniversary of the band's famous 1977 Cornell show. Among original and rare works by Garcia, Deadheads will also find no less than three of his guitars – including the very Takamine acoustic seen on the cover of his Ragged But Right album, released almost 23 years after it was recorded.
The Visions of Garcia auction will be held on May 8 in the Grateful Dead's home town of San Francisco, and simulcast in New York. Among the stand-out lots from over 150 items on offer are Jerry Garcia lithographs entitled Never Swat a Fly and Race Record Dream, a Jerry bobblehead signed by Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bill Walton, Phil Lesh and Bill Kreutzmann, Europe 72 (Foot Through the Rainbow) artwork, a prototype Benrus Art Watch, a set of Jerry Garcia handwritten lesson plans, and a superb Harley Softail owned by the legendary guitarist.
Musicologists like myself will doubtless zero in on the instruments included in the collection, and rightly so. In addition to the beautiful Takamine (estimated at between US$100,000 and $150,000), there's a simply stunning Ibanez electric guitar designed especially for Garcia in conjunction with Jeff Hassleberger and Bob Weir. The Tree of Life prototype (estimated at $50,000 - $60,000) was presented to Garcia at the 1978 North American Musicians Show but didn't find favor with the guitarist himself, as it's said that he found the guitar too heavy to use onstage.
The last of the three guitars is a solid body sky blue electric that Garcia apparently called trainer (estimated at $10,000 - $15,000). It was bought and modified by Garcia for the son of the Grateful Dead manager, Rock Scully.
A few amps also feature in the collection, including a Gallien-Krueger 206 practice amp, a Trace Elliott A10OR and a Phil Lesh Fender Bassman sporting original artwork by Courtenay Pollock. Collectors can also bid on a pair of circa 1972 custom-made monitor speaker cabinets and a fully restored set of Hard Trucker mini cube speakers with original Courtenay Pollock tie dye speaker covers, both used in the Dead's sound reinforcement system known as the Wall of Sound.
There's also a five-piece Sonor drum set used by Dead stick man Bill Kreutzmann and a Korg WT-10A tuner used by Garcia's guitar tech during the early 1970s.
Bidding is set to start at 1pm prompt on May 8 (California time). Check the source link for full details of all the items listed for auction.