An original, genuine Can You Pass the Acid Test? leaflet produced in early 1966 to advertise LSD-themed events around Southern California in February and March of 1966.
I show you both the pink & blue and the blinding fluorescent red versions of this handbill, the only two colors known to exist.
The information given at the top of the Can You Pass the Acid Test? herald reads like this:
The Merry Pranksters and their Psychedelic Symphony,
Neal Cassady vs. Ann Murphy vaudeville,
the Grateful Dead rock ’n roll,
Ron Boise and his Electric Thunder Sculpture,
many noted outlaws,
and the unexpectable.
Legendary psychedelic poster artist Wes Wilson drew up this Can You Pass the Acid Test? show bill. Wilson’s best known for designing 45 out of the first 50 Bill Graham concert posters in San Francisco.
Its mesmerizing, trance-inducing design was obviously meant to convey some of the visual effects created by LSD, which was still largely unheard of by the general public, and still very legal.
You might have noticed the blank rectangular oval in the bottom left of this Can You Pass the Acid Test? slinger. That’s where each event’s specific information would be written in; this advertising “blank” was intended to be used for several different happenings.
There were about five or six Acid Tests in Southern California in Feb.-Mar. 1966, so theoretically, at least one of these small Acid Test posters was filled in and distributed for all of them. Theoretically.
So there may very well be a Unitarian Church Acid Test flyer dated Feb. 6, 1966, from Paul Sawyer’s Unitarian-Universalist church in Northridge, CA. It could be either the florescent red or the pink, both of which I show you in this vid.
That was the very first L.A.-area Acid Test, and was pretty far out of the way – Northridge was clear out in the San Fernando Valley, a significant distance from the hip parts of town.
For the second L.A. Acid Test – in Compton but called the Watts Acid Test – the Day-Glo version of this beauty was definitely used. My friend has one, and I will be posting that video blog within days of this one.
A little bit more of a challenge would be a Unicorn Theater – La Jolla Acid Test handbill with this design, because they’ve been seen before. The Day-Glo red ones were used; I don’t know about the pink ones.
In fact, there’s very little known about the La Jolla Acid Test at all; it was very low-key and undocumented. If you know anyone who happened to attend, please let me know!
This Wes Wilson creation could have also been turned into a La Cinema Theater / Hollywood Acid Test flyer-poster, carrying a date of February 25, 1966. But just like with La Jolla, very little is known about this gathering… can anyone shed some light for me?
I often cover “tour blank” concert posters here in my video blog, but this is an interesting spin on that… it’s like a “tour blank handbill.” But it appears the oblong oval box was always filled in by hand, not by a printing machine. Which means this item was probably meant for posting only… who’s gonna sit down and hand-fill-out hundreds of these?
Then there’s the possibility that this item wound up as a Carthay Studios Acid Test handbill, except other, very different handwritten flyers for this event have landed in peoples’ collections.
This (Carthay) is the Acid Test notorious for being moved at the last minute from the UCLA campus. College officials there were worried after hearing crazy stories about the Watts Acid Test.
And last but not least, there’s a good chance that a Los Angeles Trouper’s Hall-Harmonica Store Acid Test flyer, with the date of March 25, 1966, exists carrying this crazy Wes Wilson design.
The Grateful Dead played at all of these Southern California Acid Tests, and on this occasion, there’s a great photo of them on stage in one of the coffee-table books.
This Can You Pass the Acid Test? flyer is enthusiastically delved into by Peter Howard, and yes, that’s me writing this, too. I can be emailed at email@example.com or called up on (805) 540-0020. And please be aware that I pay the VERY BEST PRICES, ANYWHERE for any of this original Acid Test advertising.
I don’t have any other psychedelic flyers & handbills to show you, but to see a few very nice psych posters from the same era, please just switch over to this page right here on my site: http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm