An original and genuine Can You Pass the Acid Test? window card from San Francisco’s famed Fillmore Auditorium on January 8, 1966.
Interestingly, instead of saying “Fillmore Auditorium,” this poster instead says “Filmore Hall,” so that’s both a misspelling and a slightly wrong name done by whoever filled it out. But remember, this was before Bill Graham established the Fillmore as a rock-concert shrine.
But first things first: the most compelling thing about this collectable Can You Pass the Acid Test? tour poster is the gorgeous hand-coloring that was added to the original black & white poster.
The coloring could have been added by Grateful Dead graphic artist Bob Thomas (who created the “Steal Your Face” logo) or LSD kingpin Owsley “Bear” Stanley, because both of them had this poster in their possession for a number of years. More details in my video.
But regardless of who the artist was, the rich, psychedelic hand-coloring added to this particular Can You Pass the Acid Test? street sign is simply breathtaking. Obviously, somebody put a great deal of time into it.
As you can see, this poster retains its original shape from the time of its printing. Instructions down at the poster’s bottom tell you how to cut it down the middle and stack the left half on top of the right half, to create a tall, thin light-pole poster. But it works just as well in this form.
I find it interesting that the added coloring falls mostly in the upper two-thirds of this Can You Pass the Acid Test? in-person poster, with much less of it present in the lower one-third. Did the coloring artist wish to leave the information-laden bottom portion free of distraction, or did they simply not finish the job?
It should be noted that this Fillmore Acid Test gig is believed to be the last time this “tour-blank” Acid Test poster was ever used. Altogether, it was used over the span of a little under a month (Dec. 11, 1965 to Jan. 8, 1966).
As for the paper used for this Can You Pass the Acid Test? billboard… remember that it was originally run on goldenrod, blue and white papers. But only the white paper, of course, would effectively show off hand-coloring; it would not work nearly as well on the other two colored papers.
I mean, sure, you could still attempt to color the other two paper colors, but obviously, they wouldn’t work as well as the white paper for getting those psychedelic colors to jump out across a room at you.
Other than the hand-coloring, a couple of other add-on’s can be found on this Can You Pass the Acid Test? window poster, if you look carefully. In the upper left, next to the word “Acid,” the words “Hooks, Horns, Tail Wings” have been inked in, with yellow backing.
And then further down the left half of the poster, “Will It Fly?” was penned in, as were the words “Witches Coven?” And over on the right-hand side, “Demons” was handwritten (also on yellow background) between the words “Optics” and “Movies.”
So just who wrote those in? That is not known, but it’s apparent that the same person also wrote the words found down in the venue box (extreme lower right) of this Can You Pass the Acid Test? appearance poster.
It’s easy to see that the same ghoulish lettering was used with all the added-on words. BTW, the venue box reads: “Filmore [sic] Hall, Geary at Filmore [sic], San Fran.” So “Fillmore” was misspelled twice in the poster’s venue box.
Another big plus found on this Can You Pass the Acid Test? concert announcement is the presence of Owsley “Bear” Stanley’s signature at the bottom (right above “de:”). I don’t need to tell you that Owsley was the LSD chemist who played an important role in early Grateful Dead history.
That signature would seem to indicate that Bear might be the person who added the cryptic words described above (like “Demons”), but that’s just guesswork on my part… maybe a handwriting analyst should look at it.
This Can You Pass the Acid Test? street poster represents a “perfect storm” of pop-culture influences that would live on for generations to come. You have such seminal figures as Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady and their Merry Pranksters; the Grateful Dead on the music tip; and Allen Ginsberg representing the beats and poets. Put them all together in a historic building (the Fillmore) in America’s most cutting-edge city (San Francisco) under the influence of a generation-altering drug (LSD), and it’s easy to see how the reverberations from an event like this can still be felt today.
I guess it’s one of those very few events that any rock-music or pop-culture historian would agree that it would have to be a stop if they ever invent traveling time capsules.
This Can You Pass the Acid Test? telephone-pole poster, which represents a historic convergence of the emerging youth culture, music, drugs and psychedelia, is happily lectured upon by collector Peter Howard in central California, and reachable through firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-540-0020. I will pay THE BEST PRICES, PERIOD for this or any other early Acid Test advertising & memorabilia.
And if you dig groovy psychedelic concert-poster artwork like this, be sure to trip over to this page right here on my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm