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Psychedelic Rock
14 of the best 1960s rock 'n' roll designs

The 1960s counterculture revolutionized music, art, spirituality, and psychedelic experiences. There is perhaps no better representation of this immense cultural awakening than the rock poster, which integrated the LSD trip with free love, Eastern mysticism, experimental imagery, and the body high of a groove that hits you right in your gut. The following posters, created for the Family Dog and Bill Graham gigs in San Francisco, represent the best designs of this era, and they are all in mint condition. References to Art of Rock and King provide the printing edition for each work.

157. Quicksilver Messenger Service. 1967.
By Victor Moscoso (1936- )
14 x 20 in./35.5 x 50.8 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

The Summer of Love began with the Springtime of Strut, and Victor Moscoso’s poster for the March 10-11, 1967 Peacock Ball at the Avalon—with the Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Steve Miller Blues Band, and The Daily Flash—certainly delivers the majesty. Today, the famous fashion designer Anna Sui embraces Moscoso as one of her favorite artists and this piece holds pride-of-place in her kitchen, according to a New York Times Profile in Style.

159. Grateful Dead. 1966.
By Stanley Mouse (1940- ) & Alton Kelley (1940-2008)
14 x 20 in./35.6 x 50.6 cm
Est: $2,000-$2,500

This rare concert poster for the Grateful Dead has become iconic and emblematic of the group’s 1960s effect on rock ‘n’ roll. In 1966, Mouse took over from Wes Wilson at Family Dog. “He was responsible—alone or in collaboration with associate Alton Kelley—for twenty-six of the next thirty-six Family Dog posters during a nine month period that firmly established the ‘psychedelic’ style as an expression of the times… His weapon of choice was the airbrush, with which he produced hot-rod-era cartoons that brought him early grassroots fame” (Art of Rock, p. 74). As for the imagery, Mouse and Kelley adapted a black and white drawing of a skeleton by Edmund Joseph Sullivan which illustrated one of the quatrains of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

160. The Doors ("Pay Attention"). 1967.
By Rick Griffin (Richard Alden Griffin, 1944-1991)
12 3/4 x 21 1/2 in./32.3 x 54.6 cm
Est: $1,700-$2,000

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 Family Dog under the auspices of Chet Helms.

163. The Yardbirds & The Doors. 1967.
By Bonnie MacLean (1939-2020)
14 x 21 1/8 in./35.5 x 53.8 cm
Est: $1,400-$1,700

Psychedelia has Art Nouveau in its ancestral blood. Here, Bonnie MacLean appropriates the Cognac Jacquet peacock as a symbol for The Yardbirds. They played three days of this summer bill; The Doors played the weekend; and James Cotton and Richie Havens had all six days.

168. The Association / Quicksilver Messenger Service. 1966.
By Wes Wilson (1937-2020)
13 7/8 x 20 in./35.3 x 51 cm
Est: $3,000-$4,000

Supposedly shaped like a human head on fire, this iconic Wilson design announces The Association, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Grass Roots, and The Sopwith Camel performing at the Fillmore Auditorium. According to King, “This is perhaps the best of the pure lettering posters” (p. 329).

169. Monterey Pop Festival. 1967.
By Tom Wilkes (1939-2009)
12 1/4 x 21 1/4 in./31.2 x 54.2 cm
Est: $3,500-$4,000

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!

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