Today I show you the absolute first printing of Bill Graham’s very first poster for his famous series of numbered concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, on February 4, 5 and 6, 1966.
This Jefferson Airplane Fillmore Auditorium poster is referred to by poster collectors as “BG-1,” with the initials representing Bill Graham, of course. It alludes to the fact that this was concert #1 in the new series of weekend shows Graham would host at the Fillmore, directly following his involvement in the popular Trips Festival two weeks prior.
The center image on this BG1 Jefferson Airplane show poster is that of a running horse with a man strapped to its back, and directly behind that is an old bi-plane in the style of the Wright Brothers. Some people think it’s actually a “horse-airplane” hybrid, because the dense red ink sort of runs everything together.
The man who created this Jefferson Airplane appearance poster for the Fillmore Auditorium is one Peter Bailey. On the poster I show you today, Bailey’s name is detectable in very light print down in the corner. However, his name was quickly removed on Graham’s orders.
It’s not known why Graham wanted Bailey’s credit immediately yanked from his Jefferson Airplane Fillmore Auditorium window display, but the most common theory is that Graham wanted all of the spotlight for himself and his new business. That may be a flimsy theory, however, because every BG poster following this one, for years on end, carried the poster artist’s credit.
So this first poster lacked any hint of psychedelic artwork. Graham didn’t quite have that vision yet when he had this BG-1 Jefferson Airplane Fillmore window card designed. Sure, the image is a bit crazy, but nothing like the wild psychedelic artwork that would quickly follow when Wes Wilson got involved (starting with the BG-2 poster).
In this video, I’m very pleased to be able to show you a “stone mint” version of this Jefferson Airplane BG-1 Fillmore concert poster. Clearly, it was never used; most of these things were used, so they usually have creases, light stains and so forth.
So this BG1 Jefferson Airplane poster is a primo copy. It has no creases, tape residue, folds, bends… heck, it looks like it was printed yesterday. Somebody took very good care of this one.
It should be noted that there’s a small handbill version of the Jefferson Airplane BG1 Fillmore street poster. It’s red and white in color, with no yellow, and has an extra notice that “black light will be provided.” I’ll blog the handbill separately.
As I usually try to give you, here is the entire text as it reads on this Jefferson Airplane Fillmore window poster:
(First the upper left): Bill Graham Presents Three Dance Concerts
Fri, Sat & Sun – Feb 4, 5 and 6
The JEFFERSON AIRPLANE
with Sights and Sounds of the Trips Festival!
(and then in tiny print): Fillmore Street at Geary Boulevard
9 till ?
(and all of the following is in tiny print):
City Lights Bookshop, San Francisco
The Psychedelic Shop, 1535 Haight Street, San Francisco
Hut T-1, San Francisco State College
ASUC Box Office & Campus Records, Berkeley
(and then way down in the lower left-hand corner):
Design: Peter Bailey, East Wind Printers
As I’ve indicated, Bailey’s designer credit can barely be seen on this Jefferson Airplane Fillmore Auditorium broadside. It’s so hidden that it really makes you wonder what problem Graham had with it. Another theory might be that Graham didn’t mind “Peter Bailey” but objected to the print shop getting advertised for free, so he had it all taken off.
It’s funny how promoter Graham tried to tie in his first concert to the success of the Trips Festival two weeks earlier, with that line of copy directly below the Airplane’s name on his BG1 Fillmore poster. It’s even more of a stretch when you realize that the Airplane didn’t even play at that Trips Festival. (But then again, Bill was the coordinating producer of that important event.)
It’s worth noting that no opening acts are listed on this Jefferson Airplane Fillmore Aud. event poster. Graham was just starting out on this new path, and perhaps didn’t realize the value of having additional bands on board to bolster his attendance.
Peter Bailey had designed a few other things for Graham prior to doing this Jefferson Airplane Fillmore ticket poster, but following this, he would do only one more poster in Graham’s regular numbered series. It would be more than a year later, when he did poster # BG-59 for Graham.
I love the early innocence that this Jefferson Airplane February 1966 Filmore concert poster represents. I love that it pre-dates all of Graham’s famous psychedelic show posters that would follow. A Wright Brothers airplane and a galloping horse? Obviously, things weren’t being taken seriously at all yet.
This Jefferson Airplane Fillmore Auditorium concert announcement is so early that it dares to label the $2.00 ticket price a “donation.” Yeah, a donation to promoter Graham’s pocketbook (not to be cynical). But then again, Graham was just getting going, and his three Mime Troupe benefit shows had used the term “donations” instead of “ticket price,” so he just carried over the term. And only once.
As I demonstrate for you in the video, this first printing of the BG-1 concert poster was done on yellow paper, so only red ink was needed in producing it… unusually, there is no white or black involved at all.
This and all other aspects of the red & yellow Jefferson Airplane poster from the Fillmore are dissected and discussed by veteran collector Pete Howard. That’s me, and I can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 805-540-0020. As a serious collector, I will pay ABSOLUTE TOP DOLLAR for a pre-concert BG-1 poster, or any of the early numbers in Graham’s series.
To see a few more psychedelic rock-concert poster images from the glorious 1960’s, simply tune in to this page right here on my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm