Psychedelic rock posters are a big part of the music scene in San Francisco. Learn about the history of these posters and where to find them in the city.
The Psychedelic Movement
The Psychedelic Movement in San Francisco started in the Haight-Ashbury district during the Summer of Love in 1967. The Summer of Love was a social phenomenon that occurred during the mid-1960s when young people gathered in San Francisco. Psychedelic rock posters were a big part of the scene and many of the posters were created by artists who were part of the Psychedelic Movement.
The Haight-Ashbury Scene
The Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco was the center of the countercultural movement in the 1960s. This area was known for its protests against the Vietnam War, its experimental music scene, and its abundance of psychedelic rock posters. The psychedelic rock poster is one of the most iconic images of this period, and it played a significant role in shaping the visual culture of the counterculture movement.
Psychedelic rock posters were often colorful and featured trippy images that were meant to evoke the effects of psychedelic drugs. Many of these posters were designed by famous graphic designers like Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley. The Haight-Ashbury scene was also home to a number of famous LSD dealers, including Owsley Stanley, who is credited with creating some of the most potent LSD ever produced.
The Summer of Love
The Summer of Love was a countercultural movement that took place in the United States, primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, during the summer of 1967. An estimated 100,000 young people converged on San Francisco from across the country, drawn by the city’s reputation for tolerance and its burgeoning community of artists, musicians, writers, and activists. The various musical genres that were popular at the time, including rock and roll, folk, and jazz, meshed together in what became known as the “San Francisco Sound.” Psychedelic rock bands such as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane performed in local venues such as the Fillmore Auditorium and the Avalon Ballroom. Haight-Ashbury, a neighborhood in San Francisco’s Haight-Fillmore district, became ground zero for the hippie movement; it was known for its bohemian lifestyle and accepting atmosphere.
The Summer of Love is often considered to be a defining moment for the 1960s counterculture movement. The music festival Woodstock, which took place in upstate New York just a few weeks after the official end of the summer on August 18th, has come to symbolize this period in American history.
Psychedelic Rock Posters
Psychedelic rock posters are a type of art that became popular in the 1960s. The posters were often brightly colored and used images of popular culture icons. Psychedelic rock posters were used to promote rock concerts and other events. San Francisco was a hotbed for the psychedelic rock scene, and many of the posters were created by local artists.
The term “psychedelic” was first coined in 1956 by British psychiatrist Humphry Osmond. It comes from the Greek words for “mind” (psyche) and “manifest” or “reveal” (delos). Psychedelics are thought to work by interfering with the action of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, appetite, sexuality, and other functions.
Psychedelic drugs became popular in the 1960s because they were seen as a way to rebellious youth to explore new and exciting states of mind. The most well-known psychedelic drug is LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), but other popular drugs included psilocybin mushrooms, mescaline (from peyote cactus), and Diethyl ether.
Psychedelic rock is a subgenre of rock music that emerged in the 1960s. Psychedelic rock is characterised by distorted guitars, lyrics about drugs and hallucinations, and trippy sound effects. The most famous psychedelic rock bands are The Beatles, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and The Grateful Dead.
The Fillmore was a music venue in San Francisco that became the epicenter of the psychedelic rock scene in the 1960s. Bands like The Grateful Dead, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix all played at the Fillmore. The venue was known for its wild parties and eclectic crowd. Many of the posters advertising shows at the Fillmore were created by artists who were influenced by psychedelia. These posters are now collectors items and are highly sought after by fans of psychedelic rock.
The Avalon Ballroom
The Avalon Ballroom was one of the most popular dancehalls in San Francisco during the late 1960s. The ballroom was located on the second floor of the historic building at 1268 Sutter Street in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. The Avalon was host to some of the most legendary psychedelic rock concerts of the era, including performances by the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Santana.
The Avalon Ballroom was founded by Chet Helms, Jerry Garcia, and Stanley Owsley in 1966. The ballroom quickly became a mecca for the burgeoning counterculture movement in San Francisco. The Avalon hosted regular “acid tests” conducted by Owsley and hosted some of the first lightshows in San Francisco. The ballroom became known for its unique atmosphere, which was a perfect match for the psychedelic music of the time.
The Avalon Ballroom closed its doors in 1969, but its legacy lives on in the many psychedelic rock posters that were created for its concerts. These iconic posters are highly sought-after by collectors and provide a glimpse into one of the most pivotal moments in music history.
The psychedelic art movement of the late 1960s had a profound effect on the poster art scene in San Francisco. Many of the most famous psychedelic rock posters were created by artists who worked in the San Francisco area. These artists included Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Rick Griffin, and Victor Moscoso.
Stanley Mouse is an American artist who is best known for his psychedelic rock posters. He was born in Berkeley, California in 1940 and grew up in San Francisco. He began his career as a commercial artist, but soon developed his own unique style which was influenced by both pop art and psychedelia. His work often features bright colors and abstract designs, and he is considered one of the foremost exponents of the psychedelic poster art form.
Mouse has worked with a number of famous musicians, including the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and the Jefferson Airplane. He has also designed album covers for bands such as the Grateful Dead and Journey. In addition to his work in the music industry, Mouse has also created art for a number of films, including The Fantastic Planet and The Matrix. He currently lives and works in Sonoma County, California.
Alton Kelley (1940 – 2008) was an American artist and one of the prime innovators of the 1960s psychedelic rock poster art scene in San Francisco. He is best known for co-creating the skeleton key artwork for the Grateful Dead’s 1969 album, Aoxomoxoa, and for his collaboration with Stanley Mouse on many of the band’s most iconic concert posters.
Kelley was born and raised in North Carolina, and he moved to San Francisco in 1962. He quickly became involved in the nascent counterculture scene, and he started creating art for psychedelic music concerts. He became friends with fellow artist Stanley Mouse, and the two men began collaborating on posters and other artwork. Kelley and Mouse were responsible for some of the most iconic images of the Grateful Dead, including the famous “skull and roses” logo.
In addition to his work with the Grateful Dead, Kelley also created artwork for such bands as the Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Santana, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Country Joe and the Fish, and many others. He continued to create art until his death in 2008.
Wes Wilson is often referred to as the “Father of the Psychedelic Rock Poster.” His work is characterized by intricate designs featuring bright colors and bold, sometimes distorted, lettering. Wilson’s posters were designed to be eye-catching and memorable, with the hope that they would help promote the artists and bands he worked with.
Wilson’s posters were some of the most popular of the psychedelic era, and his work has since been collected and exhibited by museums and galleries around the world.
Psychedelic rock posters were a mainstay in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco during the late 1960s. The posters were used to promote local music venues and bands and were often made by famous artists of the time. Many of these posters are now considered to be pieces of art and are highly collectible.
The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead were an American rock band formed in 1965 in San Francisco. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of country, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, rock, improvisational jazz, and psychedelia. They are also known for their long-term dedication to their fans, known as “Deadheads.”
On October 4, 1967, a then little-known Folk singer released her
debut album. She would go on to become one of the most influential
and groundbreaking Rock stars of her generation. Who was this
artist? Janis Joplin.
Joplin’s Bluesy, raspy voice set her apart from many of her Folk
contemporaries and helped to define the sound of Psychedelic Rock.
She first came to prominence as the lead singer of Big Brother and
the Holding Company, with whom she recorded the album Cheap
Thrills. This record would go on to be one of the best-selling albums
of all time.
Joplin’s solo career began in earnest with the release of her first album, Pearl, in 1971. The album featured her signature hits “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Mercedes Benz”. She would go on to release one more album during her lifetime, 1972’s Kozmic Blues. Janis Joplin died tragically of a drug overdose on October 4, 1970, at the age of 27. Though she was only active for a short time, her influence on music is still felt today.
Popular rock concerts began in the 1960s with the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco as their base. Bill Graham, the concert promoter, used the Fillmore to bring in big-name acts such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Grateful Dead. To advertise these shows, Graham commissioned psychedelic artist Stanley Mouse to create eye-catching posters.
The vibrant colors and twisted lettering of these posters came to epitomize the “Summer of Love” in 1967. Though Mouse’s style was often imitated, it was never duplicated; his posters remain some of the most collectible and valuable concert artifacts today.