AND you thought your amplifier was expensive. This McIntosh MC2300 power amp belonged to the late Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead and was bought at a Sotheby’s auction earlier this month. Garcia used this amp as part of the Dead’s “Wall of Sound” stage set-up – in fact, the band bought 70 units of MC2300s for its use, but this particular one was used by Garcia for many years to further boost the volume of his guitar amp.
The auction was part of Sotheby’s From the Vault: Property from the Grateful Dead and Friends collection featuring items consigned from Grateful Dead Productions and their inner circle. Items on the block included stage equipment from all eras of Dead tours, including surviving components from the legendary Wall of Sound that was powered by McIntosh amplifiers.
Garcia’s personal McIntosh MC2300 amplifier, affectionately known as Budman, was the prize piece.
According to Dead crew member “Big” Steve Parish: “Jerry played through Fender Twins and they were loud, but everyone always wanted to be louder for the big gig, especially outdoors. (Sound engineer) Dan Healy figured out how to take a line out from Jerry’s guitar amp, first into a McIntosh 350 tube amp during the early Wall of Sound set up.
“When the MC2300 power amp came out, we bought 70 of them, and put them throughout the system, but this is the one that Jerry liked the best and he played through it for years. It really made that Twin sound huge and became part of his signature tone at the time. At some point, Ram Rod (the late Laurence Shurtliff, who was the band’s head roadie and music executive) put that Budweiser Budman sticker on it and it’s instantly recognisable as Jerry’s.”
Sotheby’s adds, “Budman was essential to Garcia’s sound and became an icon in and of itself. The Grateful Dead’s commitment to playing live with the best sound possible led them to using audiophile, rather than commercial, sound equipment. The legendary build quality and low distortion of McIntosh fulfilled both the sonic and roadworthy requirements.”
The Budman MC2300 was sold on Oct 14. The auction also featured seven other MC2300s from the Wall of Sound that sold for between US$25,200 and US$94,500 each.