THE LEGEND AND LORE BEHIND THE GRATEFUL DEAD’S ICONIC IMAGERY

From Steal Your Face and Bertha to the Dancing Bears and Terrapins.

WRITER: GREGK FOLEY PHOTOS: COURTESY
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In the last few years, ’60s psychedelia has taken a central role in fashion and streetwear, with many elements anchored on one reference point in particular: the Grateful Dead. The iconic band experienced something of a cultural revival due to a confluence of factors, including John Mayer’s quasi-reformation of the band and clothing labels founded on DIY principles, such as Online Ceramics and Gallery Dept.

Calling the Grateful Dead’s resurgence a comeback, however, isn’t exactly accurate, since the band never really went away. Since their original formation in 1965, the group has consistently toured the United States, treating aging hippies and younger fans alike to their legendary non-stop live performances. Even following the death of Jerry Garcia, the band’s lead guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, in 1995, the Dead has continued to perform under various names and modifications.

Today the band is among the most culturally pervasive American rock groups of all time, embedding themselves in our collective consciousness through their aesthetics, particularly their various logos and iconography. What follows is an overview of some of the band’s most enduring graphics, logos and designs, alongside the stories behind them.