Grateful Dead – Pigpen Owned & Used Harmonica

A Hohner Blues Harp harmonica, owned and used by Grateful Dead singer, organist and harmonica player Ron “Pigpen” McKernan.  From Wikipedia- McKernan was a participant in the predecessor groups leading to the formation of the Grateful Dead, beginning with the Zodiacs and Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions.  Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzman were added and the band evolved into the Warlocks. Around 1965, McKernan urged the rest of the Warlocks to switch to electric instruments. Around this time Phil Lesh joined, and they became the Grateful Dead…He steadily added more signature tunes to the Dead’s repertoire, including some that lasted for the remainder of their live performance career such as “Turn On Your Love Light” and “In the Midnight Hour.”

This harmonica was sold by Pigpen’s family at the October, 2005 Bonhams & Butterfields Los Angeles Grateful Dead/ More Skeletons from the Closet auction.  The catalog description reads “A Ron “Pigpen” McKernan harmonica, circa 1960’s.  An M. Hohner brand with engraving on the sides reading “Blues Harp/Made in Germany” found in Pigpen’s possessions after he passed away by his brother, Kevin, possibly used on stage with the Grateful Dead and definitely used in private.”

The harmonica is functional, and comes with a beautiful custom-made wood display case.  With copies of the relevant pages from the auction catalog and original receipt (buyer’s name blacked out for their privacy.)

A unique Grateful Dead collectible with impeccable provenance.




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