The Iconic Imagery of the Grateful Dead March 31 2016

The Grateful Dead first started in 1965, and in the 50+ years that have passed, their legacy has only grown stronger. The Grateful Dead spawned an entire subculture that goes well beyond their music. Even non-fans will instantly recognize the iconic imagery associated with the legendary band. They may not even realize that they are looking at Grateful Dead merchandise, but they will no doubt recognize the Dancing Bears and the “Steal Your Face” Skull immediately. Here, we will take a brief look at the story behind these two iconic designs.

Dancing Bears
The five “Dancing Bears” originally appeared on the album “History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear’s Choice)” in 1973. This was the Grateful Dead’s fourth live album. The bears were incorporated into the design as an homage to Owsley Stanley, who produced the album. The bears are usually colored blue, green, yellow, orange, and pink, from left to right. Find a great example of this iconic design on our Dancing Bears Tie Dye T-Shirt!

“Steal Your Face” Skull
This is probably the most well known Grateful Dead logo. According to Owsley Stanley, this logo was originally created to mark the band’s gear backstage at shows. Check it out on this classic baja pullover! It is also featured on the cover of their 1976 album “Steal Your Face”, hence why it is often referred to at the SYF Skull.

Maybe more than any other band in history, The Grateful Dead incorporated instantly recognizable images in all of their concert posters, album covers, and merchandise. We have an excellent collection of the best Grateful Dead merchandise; shop online today!