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Jerry Garcia’s Wolf Guitar Headed To Auction

02/15/2017 at 8:42 | Gary Graff
Photo Credit: Photo from Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

A key piece of Grateful Dead history is going on the auction block next month — for a good cause.

Jerry Garcia‘s legendary Wolf guitar will be sold to the highest bidder on March 14 at the Brooklyn Bowl in New York to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center. Designed by Doug Irwin, Wolf made its debut on September 5, 1973, during a show Garcia played with Merl Saunders for the Hell’s Angeles in New York. Wolf is also pictured on the cover of Garcia’s 1974 solo album “Compliments,” and Garcia last played it on February 23, 1993, in Oakland, Calif. It was modified over the years and Irwin retained ownership of the guitar through a legal dispute after Garcia’s death in 1995, subsequently selling it via auction.

The current owner is anonymous but says through Gurnsey’s auction house that “playing this iconic guitar over the past 15 years has been a privilege. But the time is right for Wolf do to some good. My wife and I have long supported the efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and if we ever needed the SPLC, we sure do need them now.”

Wolf’s brother guitar, Tiger, also designed by Irwin, is owned by Indianapolis Colts owner and guitar collector Jim Irsay, who lent it to Dead & Company for its 2016 tour.


Gary Graff is an award-winning music journalist who not only covers music but has written books on Bob Seger, Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen.