A photo of Bill Rathburn's new guitar taken by Jay Blakesberg via Head Count

A photo of Bill Rathburn's new guitar taken by Jay Blakesberg via Head Count

On Sunday the Grateful Dead said "Fare Thee Well" for good at Chicago's Soldier Field, though for all I know the band's still on its third song. Anyway. During intermission, the band parted ways with a D'Angelico EX-DC Bob Weir played during the band's June 28 almost-adios gig  in Santa Clara, California, that had been signed by the four original walking Dead members (Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann) and three beloved Chicago-shows fill-ins (Phish's Trey Anastasio, Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti).

The guitar was auctioned off for charity -- 17, actually -- and it went for $526,000. Per the press release, "It was purchased by Bill Rathburn of Dallas, TX."

And, no, that's not the former Dallas police chief.

"This Bill Rathburn owns a very successful Christmas light company," says Andy Bernstein of Head Count, which registers voters at concerts and helped raise close to $750,000 for Dead-related charities during the end of its long, strange trip.

Ah -- that Bill Rathburn, owner of The Christmas Light Company on Military Parkway, the company responsible for light-briting everything from Highland Park Village to the Shops at Legacy during the holiday season.  There are a lot of dollar bills hanging from those trees, turns out.

D'Angelico says in its announcement that "the guitar auction opened at just $5,000 during the first Fare Thee Well concert in Santa Clara, CA on June 27th, but quickly grew after Weir played the guitar on stage the next night during the song 'Row Jimmy.'" At the end of Friday night's show, the high bid was still the relatively low, low price of $81,000. Clearly, things got out of hand fast after that.

If you're wondering, these are the charities splitting Rathburn's dolla dollar bill, y'all: The Rex FoundationThe Seva FoundationThe Rainforest Action NetworkConscious AllianceREVERBthe Owsley Stanley FoundationRock the EarthLove Hope StrengthSurfriderHidden WingsMultidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic StudiesOxfamRepresent.USUnbroken Chain and HeadCount. Oh -- and NORML, duh.

We've left message for Rathburn to ask about his new purchase. We'll update if and when he calls back. Until then, Bernstein says via email that Rathburn "bought it for his daughter. He said he wanted her to wake up every day and see the greatest guitar in the world."

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