A set of EIGHT Original Grateful Dead Backstage passes for the Dead’s shows on March 11, 1993 at Rosemont Horizon, Illinois; March 13 & 14, 1993 at Richfield Coliseum, Ohio; March 16, 17, & 18 1993 at Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland; and March 20 & 21, 1993 at The Omni in Atlanta, Georgia.
The eight passes together form a bigger piece of art depicting a Touring Bus and titled/nicknamed “The Bus”.
(This is part of a set of three ‘transportation’ themed pass sets: “The Bus”, “Truckin'” and “The Space Shuttle”).
These backstage pass sets were created by the artist Reonegro from 1990 to 1993 to better fool the increasing fan base who were trying to create fake backstage passes, and to keep the “Grateful Dead Family” entertained. This is one of 25 of these picture pass sets created by the artist.
These original passes were not used, and still have the backing attached.
Sold with a Certificate of Authenticity from The Autograph Source (Lifetime Guarantee).
For those lucky enough to get a backstage pass to a Grateful Dead concert, their ticket past security was no simple piece of laminated paper.
The band’s passes, which became prized by fans, were brightly colored pieces of art that were sometimes a piece of a larger puzzle.
Many of those passes were designed by Staten Island artist Antonio Reonegro.
“When they were created, only friends and family of the band got to see the backstage passes,” said Reonegro.
The passes, which feature brightly colored pictures of skeletons, animals and the iconic dancing bear logo of the Grateful Dead, have become collector items for fans of the band, known as “Deadheads.”
The band would generally give Reonegro free range on what he would draw, and he said he would get ideas for the passes by visiting local museums and sketching during the Grateful Dead’s concerts in New York.
“I did a lot of my sketching at shows,” he said. “It was cool. Meeting the fans, it wasn’t just a music, it was the whole Grateful Dead experience that made it so unique.”
He said that since only around 500 to 700 people ever got to go backstage, he got very little feedback on his work.
“You do the artwork and you wouldn’t hear if anybody ever appreciated it,” he said.
“I would hardly ever meet these people. Now they’ll write to me. It’s great that it’s finally out there and that people are gravitating to it.”
Reonegro would make some of the passes fit together to create a larger picture.
“At the time, I just thought it was a novel way to tell a story,” he said. “People really liked the idea.”
Eventually, the band’s manager asked Reonegro to stop making the puzzles because friends were constantly asking for the missing pieces.
And while Reonegro said he became a big fan of the Grateful Dead and would see almost all of their New York shows, he never knew much about the band before he started to work for them.
Reonegro got free tickets from his father-in-law, who used to fix equipment for the band. Backstage, the band asked him to draw up some samples to show them when they came back into town.
However, Reonegro didn’t know the band toured so much, and didn’t have any art for them the next time they were in New York. He told them the designs were back in his studio, so he went back to Staten Island and spent all night drawing.
“I stayed up all night and I did a bunch of sketches,” he said. “I met them at the Ritz Carlton, and a few weeks later they had me design a T-shirt.”
Reonegro designed eight T-shirts for the band before he started the backstage passes, which he created for the remainder of the band’s career.