A highly unusual look at the unique, original paste-up artwork for FD2, the Family Dog’s popular “King Kong Memorial Dance” concert poster from the Fillmore Auditorium in Feb. 1966.
Surprisingly, this original artwork piece is much smaller than the posters for which it was used to print… it measures about 7 by 10”, whereas the posters were the standard Fillmore size of 14 by 20”. So the artwork’s image was enlarged, not reduced, to make the posters.
This camera-read artwork was put together primarily by Chet Helms, the promoter who had just assumed the Family Dog name. Poster artist Wes Wilson, who had designed the Family Dog’s first FD1 poster a few weeks prior, was originally going to design this FD2 poster, too. But Helms rejected his idea, came up with the King Kong concept and Wilson contributed only the company’s brand new logo, which doesn’t appear here but was on the final product.
Helms literally cut this gorilla image out of a magazine of the day to create the basis for his poster. You can see it when I turn the piece over in this video blog… it was cut out of National Geographic, the Saturday Evening Post, Life magazine or one of those popular periodicals from the sixties.
So it’s pretty surprising when I flip this original artwork over and you see that the back has more of the same. Naturally, the photographer was never credited, and we’re left to wonder if they ever found out that their gorilla photo was used for this seminal S.F. concert poster.
As for the poster’s lettering, it’s easy to see how Helms carefully applied each individual letter to form his words – sort of like criminals used to do with ransom notes. (In the video, I accidentally state that the lettering was done by Wilson.)
When it came time to make the posters, rather than just shoot their paste-up in true colors, Helms and Wilson chose to print it with B&W ink on beige paper.
To see the final, printed King Kong Memorial Dance concert poster, and therefore learn a lot more about it, please see my other video blog on the poster itself.
This FD-2 King Kong Memorial Dance poster original artwork is enthusiastically shown and talked about by Pete Howard, vintage poster collector (firstname.lastname@example.org or cell phone 805-540-0020). I pay the BEST PRICES, period, for original vintage pieces of early San Francisco psychedelic poster art.
I’m afraid don’t have a Web page with other poster artwork to show you, but to see some cool psychedelic concert poster images, just roll your mouse over to http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm
Dear Pete Howard,
Your blogs are fantastic! I have learned so much about the early San Francisco posters from your posts. Thanks for sharing this information. With respect to the original magazine illustration for the King Kong Memorial Dance – have you been able to track down the precise original source? Or perhaps someone else has been able to find it? Certainly intriguing to know which magazine Chet Helms used. It would be great to hear from you if you have a moment. Thanks again for posting such interesting material!
All best wishes,