skip to Main Content
San Francisco Rock Posters
12 experimental designs for the rock 'n' roll revolution.

“The spiritual revolution will be manifest and proven. …Fear will be washed away; ignorance will be exposed to sunlight; profits and empire will lie drying on deserted beaches; violence will be submerged and transmuted in rhythm and dancing” (The Berkeley Barb, 1967). The Revolution was already underfoot: LSD proliferated, altering visions and dreams and widening the inner experience; Eastern mysticism took hold, inspiring Buddhist practices and transcendental leanings; Haight-Ashbury became the symbol for a new generation of free-loving, experimental kids; and rock ‘n’ roll brought it all together with guitar riffs and anthems that exploded into color fields. Naturally, the best way to communicate the next mind-expanding gig was with posters, and designers transformed the radical ethos into an aesthetic opus.

191. Monterey Pop Festival. 1967.
Artist: Tom Wilkes (1939-2009)
12 1/4 x 21 3/8 in./31.2 x 54.2 cm
Est: $4,000-$5,000

The Monterey Pop Festival was a seminal moment in ’60s rock; it introduced local fans to Otis Redding, Ravi Shankar, The Who, and Jimi Hendrix—and it piloted many San Francisco musicians, including Grace Slick and Janis Joplin, to superstardom. “As a result of the phenomenal success of Monterey Pop, the two fundamental values of the San Francisco counterculture—love and psychedelic consciousness—were broadcast across the nation and beyond” (High Societies, p. 77). Similarly, this poster heralded the American rock ‘n’ roll movement and helped to aesthetically demarcate this phenomenon from its British predecessor. Rare!

192. Goldrush / Quicksilver Messenger ("Pot"). 1967.
FD 58.1
Artist: Rick Griffin (1944-1991)
14 x 20 in./35.6 x 50.8 cm
Est: $800-$1,000

Griffin enlists the Native American from the Family Dog’s logo to create a bold double-entendre: “gold” refers to a strain of marijuana called Acapulco Gold, while “rush” refers to the sensation of being high—and obviously, our smoking Indian is placed within a large pot. It’s a classic example of Griffin’s love of puns, as well as his passion for symmetrical compositions.

193. Quicksilver Messenger Service ("Mornin Papa"). 1967.
FD 89.1
Artist: Rick Griffin (1944-1991)
14 1/4 x 20 in./36.2 x 50.7 cm
Est: $1,000-$1,200

Borrowing elements of comic book culture was widespread in the rock poster world of the late 1960s. This Family Dog design riffs on the San Francisco Examiner’s Sunday comics page while variations of Mickey Mouse help promote Quicksilver Messenger Service, Sons of Champlin, Taj Mahal, and Blue Flames performing at the Avalon Ballroom.

194. The Doors ("Pay Attention"). 1967.
FD D18.1
Artist: Rick Griffin (1944-1991)
12 3/4 x 21 1/2 in./32.2 x 54.7 cm
Est: $1,200-$1,500

In one of Griffin’s most ambitious images, an alien figure emerges from his ship to offer a “pay attention” pill to the viewer. This is the rare pre-concert printing of the design, featuring the red upper left corner with the Family Dog logo etched in black. This poster also marked the last concert presented in Denver by the Family Dog under the auspices of Chet Helms.

199. Jefferson Airplane / Big Brother and the Holding Company ("Tribal Stomp"). 1966.
FD 1.2
Artist: Wes Wilson (1937- )
14 1/8 x 20 1/2 in./36 x 52 cm
Est: $800-$1,000

This poster announces the first Family Dog concert presented by Chet Helms, and reveals the first stylistic backbones of the psychedelic poster aesthetic. The hand-drawn letters bulge and curve around the page as if animated—or as seen during an acid trip. The photograph at center was borrowed from the book “The American Heritage Book of Indians,” which would continue to be a source for imagery for many Family Dog posters to come. Though produced in black and white, Wilson hand-colored one copy at the concert, proving his foresight for the brightly colored designs that would soon be created.

201. Buffalo Springfield / Steve Miller Blues Band. 1967.
BG 61
Artist: Wes Wilson (1937- )
13 5/8 x 22 1/2 in./35.3 x 54.5 cm
Est: $600-$800

“Wilson had several polarities in mind as this design took shape: male-female, mind-body, and East-West. The last pairing inspired the colors… The West is cool silver, symbolic of rationalism, materialism, science, and technology. Gold, used for the East, symbolizes warmth and spirituality, though here the color is modified to a tart chartreuse… Here Wilson presents the yin-yang… in the form of a mandala. It is not a static, centrally focused mandala, but a very dynamic one. If the diagonal S-form is studied carefully it may seem to return on itself, like the infinity symbol or a Mobius strip” (High Societies, p. 75). It’s also worth noting that the silver ink used here is not just beautiful on its own—viewed under black light, the silver should fluoresce bright purple.

202. Jefferson Airplane / Quicksilver Messenger / Santana ("Winterland"). 1970.
BG 222
Artist: Randy Tuten (1946- )
13 7/8 x 21 in./35.2 x 53.2 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

A sea of the dead—or rather, the Grateful Dead—shove their way through the audience to the front of the stage, where an even grimmer skeleton has been bound by ball and chain. The Dead, as it turns out, had just been busted for drug possession in New Orleans, and in the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll community, this benefit concert was held to raise funds to bail them out. Getting arrested had another benefit: it gave rise to the now infamous line in “Truckin’,” “Busted, down on Bourbon Street.”

View All San Francisco Rock Posters
Live auction begins February 23, 2020 at 11am EST
Register to bid online or by phone or absentee
It’s better with a book.
Just $40 ($60 outside U.S.), shipping included
Save with a Subscription!
Order Your Next 4 Catalogues for the Price of 3!
$120 ($180 outside U.S.), shipping included

In-gallery viewing February 7-22 (daily 11am-6pm)

Drop by and be dazzled!
Back To Top