In a time when music was the truest form of self-expression came the formation of one of the most influential alternative rock bands—the Grateful Dead.
The band’s adventurous nature shone through in their unique blends of music styles. Today, we can find this fearless expression in every collectible Grateful Dead t-shirt design available at BandTees.
Join us as we look into the band’s impressive influence and explore a few of the unique shirts that all Deadheads should have.
The Grateful Dead—Fearless Influencers
The massively influential rock band formed in the 1960s, hailing from San Francisco Bay. The founding members Jerry Garcia, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, and Bill Kreutzmann previously crossed paths while performing with other acts.
The Grateful Dead had an eclectic mix of various genres, including rock, gospel, jazz, bluegrass, country, folk, blues, and psychedelic rock. There’s no denying the remarkable influence that the rock band had on the music industry.
The group’s unique style attracted a deserving fanbase, affectionately referred to as “Deadheads.” In 1994, the Grateful Dead was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
“No band embodied the psychedelic rock era’s mind-expanding, counterculture vibe better than the Grateful Dead.” – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
While influenced by bands like the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys, the Grateful Dead also paved the way for many others. Some musical acts influenced by Jerry Garcia, especially, include the Dave Matthews Band and John Meyer.
“Their music touches on ground that most other groups don’t even know exist.” – Lenny Kaye, Patti Smith Group
From the group’s music and merchandise to its video games, Deadheads can be a part of the band’s legacy. Though not the most exciting experience, the game is enough to pass the time while enjoying a few Grateful Dead tunes.
Express Your Style With Collectible Shirts
It Started With a Golden Road
The band’s debut studio album, titled The Grateful Dead, was released in 1967. Though the group had an impressive presence when performing, most of the tracks required extensive editing to polish the sound.
According to Bill Kreutzmann, “their recorded versions failed to capture the energy that we had when we performed them live. We weren’t that good yet. We were still learning how to be a band.”
To commemorate this important occasion in musical history, we present you with the Golden Road t-shirt.
While it’s related to the title of the album’s first song, it’s also the name of its twelve-disc box set. The collection contains all studio and live albums released between 1965–1973 and two bonus discs of earlier recordings.
The Iconic Skull and Roses
Released in 1971, Skull and Roses was the band’s second live album and was one of their best sellers.
Though released without a title, the album name came from the iconic artwork of the skull adorned in roses. The record label vetoed the original name proposed by the band, stating it was too vulgar for the public.
A New Record Label and New Ventures
Under the newly-formed record label, Grateful Dead Records, the band’s third album titled Wake of the Flood hit the shelves in 1973.
Over the next three years, the Grateful Dead went on to release From the Mars Hotel (1974), Blues for Allah (1975), and Steal Your Face (1976).
The Steal Your Face album marked the final release with their label. It was intended as a farewell before an indefinite hiatus, which only lasted two years.
The song doesn’t appear on the album, but the title comes from the lyrics of “He’s Gone.”
“Like I told you, what I said, steal your face right off your head.” – Grateful Dead, He’s Gone, Europe ‘72 Live Album
The Steal Your Face shirt is the perfect collector’s item to celebrate the band’s live double album under the Grateful Dead Records label.
Unfortunately, shortly after releasing the album, GRC collapsed, resulting in the band signing with Arista Records in 1977.
The Last Farewell
After losing Jerry Garcia, various band members joined other artists, performing under alternate names like the Dead and the Other Ones. To commemorate the band’s 50th anniversary, the surviving founding members came together for a series of performances.
As part of this farewell tour, the Grateful Dead had three performances over Independence Day weekend at Soldier Field in Chicago. Not only was this the exact location, but also mere days away from the 10th anniversary of their last performance with Jerry Garcia.
The Most Notable Images and What they Mean
Dancing Bears Are Really Marching
A strange image to find associated with a rock band is that of cuddly dancing bears. Looking at the psychedelic colors often bracing the background, you really could envision them dancing to some Grateful Dead tunes.
The bears are, in fact, marching according to Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the band’s sound engineer. The image was designed for the back cover of the 1973 album History of the Grateful Dead, Volume 1 (Bear’s Choice).
One theory is that the inspiration for this design came from Jerry Garcia’s nickname, “Papa Bear.”
The Lightning Skull From Steal Your Face
This image is undeniably the most popular one associated with the Grateful Dead name.
Wanting to create something that helped the Band’s equipment casing stand out, Owsley Stanley had a plan. Together with Bob Thomas, a graphic designer, they created the well-known lightning skull logo.
The image appeared inside the cover of the famous “Skull and Roses” album.
At The Dead of the Day
The psychedelic designs of the Grateful Dead t-shirts are indeed a reflection of the band’s unique musical style.
Whatever your Grateful Dead preference is, you’ll undoubtedly find a design to claim your spot amongst fellow Deadheads at BandTees.
If you want to start influencing your little one’s musical preference now, go ahead and grab a fun tie-dye baby shirt. They’re never too young to enjoy quality music!