Grateful Dead Poster
  • 4th Printing $75 $37 $38.00 Mint
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Bill Graham organized his early concerts like a menu: in order to get the ice cream, you had to eat your vegetables. Junior Wells was Graham's choice of vegetable this January, and the Dead and The Doors were dessert. Wilson's poster has been interpreted several ways over the years: some thought the figure was menacing, but the artist insisted it was an African art-influenced portrait of a smiling old man.

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Print Variations

The 1st printing of the poster (see BG045-1) presents a green, red and purple design and measures 14" x 21 7/8". On this pre-concert 1st printing, there is a fine thin black line above the performer names separating the green background from the purple border.

The 2nd printing (see BG045-1) also displays the green, red and purple design but there is a thick black line above the performer names. The purple border evident in the 1st printing is omitted from this reprint. It was printed before the concert and measures 14" x 21 13/16".

The post-concert 3rd printing (see BG045-1) is of the same red, green and purple variety and is distinguishable by the larger, thicker lettering in "Bill Graham Presents in San Francisco" as well as in the ticket strip information. The green and purple are lighter in this printing than in the previous two, and the thick black border is present above the performer names. It measures 14" x 22".

In 1986, Wes Wilson reprinted this poster in red, blue and gold. "(c) 1986 Wes Wilson" appears at the bottom and it measures 15 1/4" x 24 5/16".

The 5th printing (see BG045-1) is of the same red, green and purple variety, is on glossy cover stock, and bears a Wolfgang's Vault notation in the lower right hand margin. It was printed in 2013 by the Bill Graham Archives LLC in a 500 copy run and is larger than the other printings, measuring 23 1/8" x 36".

About Wes Wilson

When the Avalon Ballroom and Bill Graham's Fillmore Auditorium began to hold weekly dance concerts, Wilson was called upon to design the posters. He created psychedelic posters from February 1966 to May 1967, when disputes over money severed his connection with Graham. Wilson pioneered the psychedelic rock poster. Intended for a particular audience, "one that was tuned in to the psychedelic experience," his art, and especially the exaggerated freehand lettering, emerged from Wilson's own involvement with that experience and the psychedelic art of light shows.