Family Dog Concert Posters
Sam Andrew of Big Brother and the Holding Company talked last week about how the concert poster artwork of the 1960s could end up eclipsing the music that they were made to advertise.
“They were extremely diverse,” Sam said. “There was no school, no trend. Anything you can say in general about the poster art then will be foolish, because immediately ten exceptions to what you just adumbrated will appear. Complete freedom. The entire canon of world art was ransacked to create these amazing works. They will be important long after the music has become quaint. Think of Toulouse-Lautrec. Have you listened to the music that he was listening to when he did his amazing work? It's great music, but what is more alive and vital today, the music or the art?”
The artwork he was talking about were the posters used to promote Big Brother and the Holding Company and other
Helms was also responsible for bringing Janis Joplin out to
Wilson, who happened to have a job at a print shop, ended up being in the right place at the right time when Helms and Graham came calling in 1966.
Helms’ Family Dog posters always have the logo of a Native American with a top-hat on, smoking a cigarette, and the quote underneath of, “MAY THE BABY JESUS SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND OPEN YOUR MIND.” They were the true hippies to those who were a part of the
Big Brother was the house band of the Avalon and also did many shows at the Fillmore Auditorium as well. The posters that Wes Wilson did early on for the Avalon were like old Wild West advertisements. Eventually
When Mouse and Kelly collaborated on Family Dog posters their style was to cut out old pictures and create very new and unique posters. Stanley Mouse was an artist known for working hot rod shows in the early sixties and selling decal and t-shirt designs. These are three of the artists that worked for the Family Dog and Helms during the early years. Rick Griffin and Victor Moscoso also did posters for both venues and they complete the group known as the “Big Five” of poster artists from the era. In 1967 the big five were featured in an issue of Life Magazine and
Be very careful if you ever buy a Family Dog poster, they were numbered for the concert and the printing with originals made before the concert being the most valuable. Two extremely rare and highly collectable posters today are of a classic skeleton with roses image promoting The Grateful Dead (FD-26) and Big Brother and the Holding Company fitting into a Zig Zag ad (FD-14).
Go to my website at www.thefountainheads.com to learn more and see additional posters.