An unusual, collectible Trips Grateful Dead 196? cardboard concert poster from April 1966 at Longshoremen’s Hall in San Francisco.
It’s funny the way the designers put a big “196?” in the middle of the action, undoubtedly just a fun, trippy thing to do back when rules were being broken left & right.
But the real centerpiece of the Trips Grateful Dead 196? pole poster is that B&W rectangle holding the psychedelic artwork. Is that a Roman numeral “II” in the middle of it, or just my imagination?
Possibly so, because the organizers were obviously trying to carry forward the magic, three months later, of January’s historic and wildly successful Trips Festival at the same venue.
But notice how the word “Festival,” or any mention of the Merry Pranksters, are nowhere to be found on this Trips Grateful Dead 196? placard. Noticeably absent, I’d say.
So was this a Trips Festival II, or not? I’ll say one thing: there’s very little information to be gleaned about this weekend, today. Almost nothing is written anywhere about it.
I imagine the reason the Pranksters’ name doesn’t appear on the Trips Grateful Dead 196? fence poster is because their leader, Ken Kesey, was in Mexico, running from the law.
But it does say “Trips Regulars,” so that sounds like a safe term that could include stray Pranksters as well as all other hip scene-makers.
Tilghman Press, located right across the bay in Oakland, is the company that made this Trips Grateful Dead 196? billboard.
You don’t see Tilghman involved with very many psychedelic concert posters because they always produced their stuff on cardboard, not paper, and psych concert posters were almost always made of paper.
I love all the venue information that’s worked into this Trips Grateful Dead 196? in-person poster. “Beach and Mason on Fisherman’s Wharf” and “San Francisco” are all worked in there, in addition to the hall’s name in big, vertical letters.
And then the dates run up the other side: Friday April 22, Saturday April 23 and Sunday April 24, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. So it was a full weekend of Dead music, upon their return from Los Angeles.
One of the key components of Tilghman’s Trips Grateful Dead 196? window poster is the top headline: “DRESS the way YOU are.”
This is a clear reference to the Trips Festival three months prior at the same location. That Trips Fest was legendary for the freestyle and outlandish dress that all the newly minted hippies wore on that night.
I haven’t mentioned “Celebrity Drop In’s” listed on the Trips Grateful Dead 196? psychedelic poster. Hmm, in retrospect that’s a bit weak because it’s so vague… and who would be celebrated more than “Trips Regulars” such as Pranksters?
Maybe other popular bay-area musicians showed up one of the three nights, but that too wouldn’t be unusual at all, and hardly a selling point for a poster.
You gotta love the detailed ticket information down at the bottom of the Trips Grateful Dead 196? show placard. Four locations for tickets are given: two in San Francisco and one each in Oakland and Berkeley.
And oh, those prices, needless to say… two bucks in advance and $2.50 at the door. The term “Pre-Sale” on this poster was highly unusual wording… you almost always saw “In Advance” instead. (I know, tiny point.) (smile)
The designer is not credited on his or her Trips Grateful Dead 196? telephone-pole poster… which is kind of a shame. I wonder if it was a name we’re familiar with today, or just an anonymous laborer at Tilghman.
Not only does the center B&W rectangle feature some creative design, so does the word “Trips” across the top… very stylized lettering, certainly not a font somebody could’ve just pulled.
Tilghman’s full street address and phone number subtly appear at the bottom of their Trips Grateful Dead 196? concert announcement. Zip codes were not in common use yet, so there isn’t one; neither is the phone’s area code given.
And let’s not forget that little union bug found on there, too, directly to the left of the word “Tilghman.” That was an all-important element for the union members toiling away at Tilghman.
Another compelling aspect of Tilghman’s Trips Grateful Dead 196? ticket poster is that it is not your standard 14 x 22-inch window card size; it’s a couple of inches bigger in either direction. That might sound insignificant, but it really makes a difference when it’s alongside other posters.
Of course, that’s still nothing like the other standard size of 22×28 inches, called “jumbos,” which were very common in the business at this time. But Tilghman didn’t make those.
This Trips Grateful Dead 196? concert poster is happily explained and displayed by one Pete Howard, former Rolling Stone magazine Contributing Editor and 19-year publisher of ICE magazine. That would be me talking, and I can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org or by ma-belling (805) 540-0020. And call me if you have one of these: I do not, and will pay TOP DOLLAR IN THE HOBBY, PERIOD, for one of these.
And while my Web site is full of boxing-style concert placards, to see some hip, groovy psychedelic show cards of this era, just click on over to this page: http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm