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Bonhams to auction 'Alligator' guitar owned and played by Jerry Garcia
Alligator! A Fender Stratocaster owned and played by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. Estimate: $250,000 - 400,000. Photo: Bonhams.

LOS ANGELES.- Bonhams will offer ‘Alligator’, a Fender Stratocaster owned and played by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, in the sale of Alligator! A San Francisco Rock Star's Guitars, Art & More at Bonhams Los Angeles on December 10. The guitar was nicknamed ‘Alligator’ after the dancing alligator sticker on the pickguard. It has an estimate of $250,000-400,000. The personal collection of over 70 lots also includes additional guitars, paintings by Jerry Garcia, his large collection of comics, as well as his Hawaiian shirts.

A build date of 1955, Alligator is believed to have been gifted to Jerry Garcia in 1970 by Graham Nash (ex-Hollies; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) in appreciation of Garcia’s guitar work on Nash’s solo album Songs For Beginners. Nash supposedly bought the guitar in 1970 for $250 at a pawn shop in Phoenix, TX. The guitar has numerous external and internal modifications largely carried out by Frank Fuller and Rick Turner of Alembic, a company founded in 1969 composed of a small group of instrument and hi-fi specialists who were closely involved in achieving the Dead’s signature sound of the 1970's.

Giles Moon, Bonhams Director of Music & Entertainment Memorabilia, commented: “This iconic Fender Stratocaster was Jerry Garcia’s guitar of choice from early 1971 until the fall of 1973. It was clearly a favorite, as it was the first of only a handful of Garcia’s guitars that were ever named. Garcia played this guitar in numerous live performances, notably on the Grateful Dead’s 1972 European tour.”

Additional highlights in the sale include:

• A Watercolor of an Alligator by Jerry Garcia (1942-1995), watercolor on paper (estimate: $4,000-6,000).

• A Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar played by Jerry Garcia on The Festival Express Tour, Canada, 1970 (estimate: $30,000-50,000).

• A Hawaiian Shirt owned and worn by Jerry Garcia, early 1990s (estimate: $500-800).

• A pair of prescription sunglasses owned and worn by Jerry Garcia, circa 1990 (estimate: $2,000-4,000).

• A Jerry Garcia group of a near complete run of EC Comics Crime Suspense Stories, early 1950's (estimate: $1,000-2,000).

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