Dead Heads’ Fan Mail

“Dead Letters: The Very Best Grateful Dead Fan Mail” showcases the depth of devotion of Dead Heads everywhere.

Grateful Dead Art

Dead Heads unite with pen and paper.

ALL IMAGES FROM THE GRATEFUL DEAD ARCHIVE, US SANTA CRUZ SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, ALL IMAGES © THEIR RESPECTIVE CREATORS

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Famously tie-dyed and legendarily tripping, Grateful Dead fans also had a lesser known behavioral trait: They were obsessive DIY stationery designers. Whether they were writing to each other about meeting up on the concert trail, ordering tickets from the Grateful Dead Ticket Service, or penning heartfelt fan mail to Jerry and the band, many Dead Heads invested their postal creations with all the improvisatory intensity of a 30-minute rendition of “Dark Star.”

Dead Letters: The Very Best Grateful Dead Fan Mail by Paul Grushkin (Voyageur Press) curates this weird outburst of art with a loving eye, offering an inside—and very brightly colored—glimpse into a curiously long-lived subculture.