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Skull & Roses. Skeleton Bertha. Official Grateful Dead imagery. Postcard. Art designed by Stanley Mouse & Alton Kelley.

Skull & Roses. Skeleton Bertha. Official Grateful Dead imagery. Postcard.

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The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long musical improvisation. "Their music," writes Lenny Kaye, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists." These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead \"the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world."

Over the years, a number of iconic images have come to be associated with the Grateful Dead. Many of these images originated as artwork for concert posters or album covers.

Skull and roses: The skull and roses design was composed by Alton Kelley and Stanley Mouse, who added lettering and color, respectively, to a black and white drawing by Edmund Joseph Sullivan. Sullivan\'s drawing was an illustration for a 1913 edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Earlier antecedents include the custom of exhibiting the relic skulls of Christian martyrs decorated with roses on their feast days. The rose is an attribute of Saint Valentine who according to one legend was martyred by decapitation. Accordingly, in Rome, at the church dedicated to him, the observance of his feast day included the display of his skull surrounded by roses. This was discontinued in the late 1960s when Valentine was removed from the Roman Catholic canon along with other legendary saints whose lives and deeds could not be confirmed.

Kelley and Mouse's design originally appeared on a poster for the September 16 and 17, 1966 Dead shows at the Avalon Ballroom. Later it was used as the cover for the album Grateful Dead. The album is sometimes referred to as Skull and Roses (or Bertha).

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