Tweed Poster Show

Thirty One 1960s Concert Posters Coming To The Tweed

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

At the end of June the Tweed Museum will be displaying 31 original concert posters from California created between 1966 and 1968 featuring bands like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and many others of the era.

The show will run from the end of June until the end of January 2012 and will be free to the public. To accompany the Tweed show I will be writing up interviews with the artists of the posters and the performers from the shows to explain the artwork from the people these posters advertised for.

At Grandma’s Saloon my favorite thing to do is to look at the old advertising posters on the walls and admire their classic artwork. Most ads were created to be expendable, but now that the art form has been around for a very long time the older pieces have become much more collectable.

The Tweed has a show going on right now featuring Mounties artwork

The concert posters in the upcoming Tweedshow are some of the rarest of all concert advertisement posters ever created. There is a very rare poster from 1966 for the “Grand Opening of the Mad Hatter” featuring a punkish looking Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane in her earlier band The Great Society. It was promoting the opening of a new type of “Mod” store with mood rings, mod outfits, and free Pepsi.

When Slick was with The Great Society she wrote “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” two songs that later became the biggest hits of Jefferson Airplane. Most people don’t know that Jefferson Airplane had a different singer before Grace Slick named Signe Anderson. Slick left The Great Society in 1966 to replace Andersonwhen she got pregnant and the rest is history.

That “Mod” poster is in the Tweed show, but there also are posters from Jefferson Airplane’s shows with Signe as their singer and with Slick from the peak of their careers. Almost all of the posters are from the San Francisco area, but a few are also from festivals in Northern California and Santa Barbara.

Another extremely rare piece in the show is for the Human Be-In that occurred in early 1967 at Golden Gate Park. The goal of the Be-In was to have so much music, and so much love, that the people could stop the Vietnam War. It featured all of the San Francisco bands (Grateful Dead, Airplane, Country Joe, Big Brother, etc.) and speakers Allen Ginsberg and Timothy Leary. This was just before the Summer of Love when SF was overrun by young people and drug slavers.

There is the original poster advertising The Monterey Pop Festival in early 1967 that isarguably the seminal concert of the 1960s. Most people know of this festival as the American debut of Jimi Hendrix and when he lit his guitar on fire. It was also where the Who had to open for Hendrix and Janis Joplin became internationally known. The festival was put on and featured the end of The Mamas and Papas and the beginning of Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe and the Fish, and many other rock bands to come.

The Monterey Pop festival was also where Otis Redding stole the show and put soul into the soon to be named “hippies” (young people who sprung from the hipsters and folkies of SF’s early free speech movement). Redding died less than six months later, but there is also a great Otis Redding concert poster from The Fillmore when he made his first debut in San Francisco in 1966. That poster was done by the first poster artist who took this advertising vehicle into 5th gear, Wes Wilson.

There are seven posters featuring the Doors from their first San Francisco show in January of 1967 to a festival in 1968. There is a great one from the Summer of Love that featured The Yardbirds and the Doors on one billing.

Three concert posters are from Jimi Hendrix’s shows including the Monterey Pop Festival one, another from the Earl Warren Showgrounds inSanta Barbara, and Rick Griffin’s famous Flying Eyeball poster from the Fillmore West in 1968. They were originally created to be disposable art and some were given away at the end of the shows or sold there. The early posters from 1966 and early 1967 were from extremely small print runs and very few survive today.

This is just the tip of the iceberg and a description of a handful of the posters in the show. Over the summer I will be writing about each poster and the artist who created it. I will explain the show, the artist and his influences, and the entire scene around them. While assisting the Tweed in gathering information I amassed 12 hours of interviews with Wes Wilson, Lee Conklin, Randy Tuten, Victor Moscoso, Richard Tolmach, Country Joe MacDonald, and many other artists of the era. While these names may seem a bit unfamiliar now, please check back as I work through the many hours of stories from an amazing era of art and music.

If you are someone who reads my articles frequently you may have caught the piece I did on Led Zeppelin concert poster artist Randy Tuten. That was only the first 10 minutes of an interview that ran over an hour. Tuten’s stories encompassed the surf rock era and Southern California in the mid-sixties through Bill Graham, the creator of the Fillmore scene, and his tragic death in 1991.

Some of the artists are from the very early years and some came a bit later. A few have traditional art backgrounds and formal art education like Yale graduate Victor Moscoso and others were based more on modern styles had little training. It is art that captures the music, strife, social attitudes, and revolutionary zeal that made for some of the greatest music ever created. Come see the art at the end of June and go to read more about the art and artists.