Here is an original flyer-handbill for The Family Dog’s “A Tribute to Dr. Strange” dance-concert in San Francisco, which took place at Longshoremen’s Hall at Fisherman’s Wharf on October 16, 1965.
I actually have two versions of the Dr. Strange flyer to show you… a “regular” one printed with black ink on blue paper, and then a white-paper version that was hand-colored with Magic Markers at the time of the event.
As a matter of fact, this vintage Tribute to Dr. Strange handbill was colored in by Ellen Harmon, one of the four founding members of the Family Dog collective in 1965.
This original Tribute to Dr. Strange concert flyer was actually designed and sketched out by Harmon’s boyfriend, Alton Kelley, one of the other founding members of the Family Dog.
Reportedly, about 1,000 Tribute to Dr. Strange slingers were printed up before the concert, with the majority of them supposedly hand-colored in by all members of the original Family Dog – Ellen Harmon, Alton Kelley, Luria Castell and Jack Towle.
So each hand-colored Tribute to Dr. Strange leaflet would be somewhat different from the others, and thereby unique, a fun characteristic of anything that is hand-done.
It’s important to point out that the printed black-ink information and B&W artwork is exactly the same on all of the Tribute to Dr. Strange handouts. For example, the little buzzing airplane coming in at an angle next to the words “Jefferson Airplane” is totally identical on all Dr. Strange posters and flyers. The same master was used.
It’s fun to note how Ellen Harmon used every color in the rainbow, and more, to colorize this gorgeous, hand-colored Tribute to Dr. Strange concert flier… it’s beautifully colored with red, blue, pink, yellow, orange, green and purple – and even that doesn’t quite name them all.
A keen eye would also notice (although, granted, it’s a minor point) that both of these vintage Tribute to Dr. Strange heralds have a thin-line border on all four sides, which is broken only in the bottom left by the listing of ticket locations.
This Family Dog Presents A Tribute to Dr. Strange announcement was not the only way the event was advertised… there were actually two different, larger posters printed up as well… one of them I’ve already blogged here, and the other is coming up later this summer.
If you’re not familiar with classic comics, Dr. Strange was a Marvel Comics superhero who made his debut in 1963. The Family Dog’s Ellen Harmon was a major consumer of comic books, and the Family Dog members felt that their new series of dance-concerts should have a fun-sounding theme to them, to help them appear special.
So following Dr. Strange, the next two dance-concerts held by the Family Dog collective were called A Tribute to Sparkle Plenty and A Tribute to Ming the Merciless. And yes, both posters and handbills were made for those two events as well.
Fans of the Jefferson Airplane are quite pleased that The Great Society is listed at the very bottom of this Tribute to Dr. Strange concert handout. That means that singer Grace Slick was part of the show, even though it would be one year to the day before she would change camps and join the Airplane.
What follows is the entire text found on this vintage San Francisco dance-concert handbill, just as it reads from top to bottom, left to right:
The Family Dog Presents A Tribute to Dr. Strange
With Russ “The Moose” Syracuse (he was the Master of Ceremonies), Jefferson Airplane, The Charlatans, The Marbles… Also… The Great Society
(Back up to the top right): Rock ’N’ Roll Dance and Concert – Oct. 16 – Sat. Nite 9:00 – 2:00 (with cute eyeballs in the zeros)
Longshoremen’s Hall – Fishermen’s Wharf – Adm. $2.50, Students 2.00 – (and then back down to very bottom, lower left): Tickets at Committee Box Office – Open 4-12 PM – Also U.C. & S.F. State Box offices
If you should come across a yellow Tribute to Dr. Strange concert handbill, it’s probably real, too… although I neglect to mention it in the video, yellow ones were printed before the concert as well. So that means there were white, blue and yellow fliers, printed with just black ink. So if each paper color had some specimens colored in with Magic Markers, then that would make a grand total of six different Tribute to Dr. Strange flier possibilities out there, and nine different advertising pieces if you include the posters!
On a historical note, even though Ellen Harmon & Alton Kelley are the star designers of this Dr. Strange concert appearance sheet – in fact, Kelley even autographed the hand-colored one shown here – it was the Family Dog’s Luria Castell who did most of the grunt work – booking the acts, securing Longshoremen’s Hall, etc.
One important nod toward authenticity on both versions of this authentic Tribute to Dr. Strange appearance sheet is the printer’s union bug, down in the flyer’s lower right-hand corner.
This beautiful piece of San Francisco rock-music history is enthusiastically discussed by serious collector Peter Howard, living in California’s central coast (phone 805-540-0020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org). I will pay TOP DOLLAR for any advertising like this relating to the early Family Dog dances – in addition to any very early S.F. rock posters and handbills, period.
To take in a few other classic, scarce, collectible pieces of psychedelic concert-poster art from outside of the Bay Area, just click over to this page found right here on my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm