The very first concert poster (a handbill) for The Great! Society in San Francisco in the fall of 1965, followed by their very last concert poster from 11 months later – from the night the band literally broke up.
By sheer coincidence, both of these items are in complete black & white – not a color to be found on either one. There were colorful ones in between, sure, but it’s ironic that both of these are pure B&W!
This The Great Society psychedelic poster – well, at least the second one is – were both printed ahead of time strictly to sell tickets, and was never reprinted for merchandise sales unlike the Bill Graham posters.
And the 1965 handbill is certainly a very early, naïve piece of advertising that doesn’t carry a lot of eye appeal that you’d want to frame.
But I do love the way the smaller The Great! Society show poster lists all the band members and their function within the group: what instruments they played, and who sung. I guess that was appropriate, since this was their first public gig.
Interesting how you have three Slicks on there – Grace, Darby and Jerry – plus David Miner, who did a lot of songwriting and singing, and Bard Dupont.
The second The Great Society event poster carries some irony in the 21st century because “Sept. 11 – help!” is very reminiscent of the Twin Towers terrorist attack in NYC on September 11, 2001, of course.
But the plea for help in 1966 was simply to raise funds for the Both/And club in the Bay Area, which was struggling financially. So it seems like all of San Francisco’s finest came to their rescue.
The smaller piece serves you better better if you’re looking for a The Great! Society telephone-pole poster, because it was smaller and could more easily be stapled to a pole. It depended on the size of the pole, of course.
The second, larger piece was more suited for windows, fences and flat surfaces like that. Since this was during the summertime, weather elements were generally not a threat to either of them.
I would also say that the bigger piece here better fit the definition of a The Great Society ticket poster, because it gives no fewer than seven locations at which ducats could be purchased. And the price is rather prominently on there as well… “Donation: $2.50,” down in the lower-right corner.
The October ’65 handbill, on the other hand, gives no admission price. And it certainly didn’t need to list ticket locations because there were no tickets at a club like this… you just paid at the door, or perhaps admission was free and they made their money from food & drink.
Collectors looking to add a The Great! Society concert announcement to their collection can choose here between either early and seminal, which is always fun, or later and better-looking, which is where the majority of collectors fall.
The second, larger piece is definitely psychedelic in nature, which would also sway many collectors. Sure, it’s in all B&W, but that dripping-liquid paisley design looks pretty cool on there. The poster artist – who goes un-credited – made the most of what they had without being able to use colors.
Notice how many musicians are named on this The Great Society street sign… nine, if you count the M.C. And then it says, “Plus many surprise drop-in guests.” One of those surprises just happened to be The Grateful Dead, according to Darby Slick’s book, Don’t You Want Somebody to Love – Reflections on the San Francisco Sound.
Slick’s book, although riddled with typos and errors, is a great first-hand account of the band’s one-year run, and he recalls their last night together at the Fillmore in nice detail. They literally broke up while they were packing up their equipment after the show – because Grace had decided to jump ship to the Jefferson Airplane.
That’s why it’s kinda cool that the Airplane are also listed on this The Great! Society pole poster (the bigger one). Anyone who attended the show literally saw Grace Slick’s transition from one band to the next right before their very eyes.
So as a collector and music historian, it’s awesome that you can have a poster featuring both the Society and the Airplane, with Grace having one foot on the platform and one foot on the train.
This pair of The Great Society show placards is discussed with you today by Peter J. Howard, who is me. I live about four hours south of the Bay Area today, and if you wish to reach me, try using firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 805—540-0020. Please keep in mind that I pay the best prices in the hobby, bar none, for vintage Bay Area psychedelic concert memorabilia like this.
And to see a few more examples of nice mid-’60s San Francisco psychedelic concert posters, these ones with color, just slide your mouse over to: http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm