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Grateful Dead Records: Back Stage Passes, Tickets & Laminates
MS 332 Ser. 12  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Alternative Forms Available
  • Accurals
  • Processing Information
  • History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Additional Grateful Dead Records Finding Aids
  • Related Collections
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Grateful Dead Records: Back Stage Passes, Tickets & Laminates
    Dates: 1965-2009
    Collection number: MS 332 Ser. 12
    Creator: Grateful Dead Productions
    Collection Size: 8 boxes
    Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
    Santa Cruz, California 95064
    Abstract: This series includes samples of backstage passes, tickets and laminates from Grateful Dead concert venues. Uniquely designed laminate badges, fabric passes and mail order tickets, as well as mass produced tickets from ticketing outlets are included. Not all venues are represented.
    Physical location: Stored in Special Collections and Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the material.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    This series is open for research. Please contact the Grateful Dead Archivist at: grateful@ucsc.edu for further information.

    Publication Rights

    Property rights to the physical objects reside with the University of California. To inquire about the copyright of material in this series, please contact the Grateful Dead Archivist at: grateful@ucsc.edu

    Preferred Citation

    Grateful Dead Records: Back Stage Passes, Tickets & Laminates. MS 332 Ser. 12. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Grateful Dead Productions, 2008

    Alternative Forms Available

    Selected images may be viewed at the Grateful Dead Archive Online (GDAO) at: www.gdao.org .


    The first accural was received in 2008. Second accural was received in June 2012. Additional accurals are expected.

    Processing Information

    The series was processed using MPLP which means materials were refoldered, rehoused and very minimally processed.


    The Grateful Dead were an American rock band that formed in 1965 in Northern California. They came to fame as part of author Ken Kesey's Acid Tests, a series of multimedia happenings centered around then-legal LSD. Famed for their concerts, the band performed more than 2,300 shows over thirty years, disbanding after the death of lead guitarist Jerry Garcia in August 1995. Although their only Top 10 hit, "Touch of Grey," charted in 1987, their popularity was based on concerts, and in their last decade they consistently placed in the top five tours every year. Known for the range of their repertoire and the caliber of their compositions, the Dead's songbook has been covered by a wide range of other musicians, from Bob Dylan to Jane's Addiction. They released thirteen studio albums and nine contemporary live albums during their career, and more than 100 live releases since then. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    This series contains back stage passes, tickets and laminates to Grateful Dead concerts and other concert venues.
    Backstage passes are usually printed fabric stickers about the size of a playing card that allowed access to a restricted area of a venue, where journalists and guests would be entertained during a performance. Designed to be used in conjunction with a ticket, backstage passes could be simple abstract designs or images derived from mass media, popular culture, or even band members' children's doodles. Unlike laminates, which tended to feature artwork commissioned specifically for that purpose, backstage passes tended to be simpler and more casual, often more whimsical, and generally disposable. Over time, the standard rectangular shape was augmented with passes featuring a wide variety of sizes and shapes, from circles to triangles.
    Grateful Dead tickets can be grouped into several categories, roughly corresponding to era. In the 1960s, rock promoter Bill Graham quickly recognized the utility of reproducing concert poster images in business card sized tickets in an effort to impede counterfeits, usually stamped along the bottom or back with the day of the show. These tickets are the most highly prized, collected along with handbills and posters for the concerts. In the 1980s, the band pioneered the direct sale of tickets to fans via mail order, creating tickets that often featured graphics incorporating band logos and motifs. Tickets for special events such as New Year's Eve were often works of art in their own right. By contrast, tickets printed at outlets such as BASS (Bay Area Seating Service) and Ticketmaster were created with a strictly information-only template using a thermal ink printing process that did not hold up well over time, with the lettering often fading quickly.
    Laminates are small, playing card-sized badges made of either printed cardboard sealed in plastic or printed plastic, usually designating an entire tour but sometimes only a single show or run of shows at a single venue. Worn on a lanyard or clipped to outer clothing, laminates serve as identification for band, band family, crew, or touring staff, providing access to secure areas, including backstage and performer areas. Over time, increasingly sophisticated designs intended to thwart counterfeit efforts (nicknamed "scaminates" by enterprising fans) supplanted the simple identification badge style common in the 1970s, giving rise to beautifully artistic efforts such as those by Timothy Truman, featured in the book Access All Areas: Backstage with the Grateful Dead (Grateful Dead Books, 1998). The interplay between art and security produced striking designs that incorporated cutting-edge production techniques that made successful unauthorized duplication all but impossible. Laminates obviated the need for a ticket, unlike a backstage pass.


    The material is arranged in three sub-series: Back Stage Passes; Tickets; Laminates. The material is arranged chronologically by venue within each section.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Grateful Dead (Music Group)--Archives
    Grateful Dead Productions
    Deadheads (Music Fans)
    Concert Tours

    Additional Grateful Dead Records Finding Aids

    Related Collections

    • MS 52 David Dodd Grateful Dead Collection 
    • MS 224 Stu Nixon Collection 
    • MS 333 Dick Latvala Papers - in process
    • MS 334 Herb Greene Photographs - in process
    • MS 335 Teresa Garcia Memorial Collection - in process
    • MS 336 Dennis McNally Papers - in process
    • MS 339 Acid Test Poster Modern Variant Reprints - in process
    • MS 340 David Singer Posters - in process
    • MS 342 Nicholas G. Meriwether Poster Collection - in process
    • MS 343 Elizabeth Cohen Collection - in process
    • MS 344 Susana Millman Slide Collection - in process
    • MS 345 John R. Dwork Papers - in process
    • MS 346 Grateful Dead Bean Bears Collection - in process
    • MS 350 Deadheads Contributions - in process
    • MS 420 Grateful Dead Scholars Caucus Papers - in process

    Separated Material

    Books have been cataloged separately
    Media have been cataloged separately