Asking prices for tickets to Grateful Dead's final shows soar to more than US$100,000

The Grateful Dead perform their hit Touch of Grey at a concert in California in a 1980s concert. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE
The Grateful Dead perform their hit Touch of Grey at a concert in California in a 1980s concert. -- PHOTO: YOUTUBE

NEW YORK (AFP) - The Grateful Dead embodied the hippie spirit, but the free market has sent prices for resold tickets to the band's final shows soaring to more than US$100,000 (S$136,532).

Tickets for the rock legends' three July 4 weekend shows at Chicago's Soldier Field - which has a capacity of 61,500 - sold out within minutes after going online Saturday.

Nearly 500,000 people queued up on the site to buy Grateful Dead tickets, a record for vendor Ticketmaster, the band said on a website for the shows.

The huge demand has sent the costs of tickets surging on resale sites. On StubHub, four sellers were asking for more than US$100,000 for a three-day pass.

Another site, TiqIQ, put the market value as of Monday for a three-day pass at more than US$2,500.

The original list-price for the three-day pass started at US$194, while single tickets started at US$72.

The Grateful Dead, who emerged from the San Francisco hippie scene in the 1960s, became a defining band for many free spirits of the baby boom generation.

Frontman Jerry Garcia died in 1995 but the surviving members planned the three concerts at Soldier Field - site of the last show with Garcia - to celebrate the band's 50th anniversary in what they acknowledge will likely be a swansong.

Keeping the tradition of the band that emerged before the Internet era, the Grateful Dead also sold tickets by mail through money orders - a means of payment that is increasingly rare.

The band said that it had received more than 60,000 ticket sale forms by money order.

The website said that Grateful Dead staff were "submerged" with orders and looking to come up with "various ways to help everyone experience these shows", even if they do not get tickets.

A number of Chicago hotels also reported quickly selling out for the July 4 weekend.

The Grateful Dead revolutionised touring by not only allowing but encouraging bootleg recordings by fans, who would travel from show to show and created a "Deadhead" subculture known for its welcoming spirit and liberal attitude toward drugs.