The Posters of the Grateful Dead Archive

The End of the Fillmore Series

Singer’s work carried the original Fillmore series to its conclusion, and his imaginative, beautifully composed collages seem to portend an end to the original Haight-Ashbury experience as well as the growing professionalization of modern rock theater. Singer’s effort for BG 216 is a nicely balanced, stylized collage featuring mushrooms framed by a set of receding arches, leading into deep space. The lettering completes the poster’s feint toward art deco, stylized by Singer into an abstracted geometric psychedelic twist on deco lettering, an effect underscored by the dominant orange working against the purple and black of the center. The bottom of the arch has steps, leading up to the mushrooms and deep space beyond, lit by a nebula, with a long-distance runner, moving steadily up the incline of the lower mushroom’s cap. It is a startling image, effective for its depiction of the loneliness of the human journey in the cosmos, and it is hard not to see in it something of a parable for the Dead’s own journey, as they navigated the end of the sixties and the particularly turbulent and difficult year 1970.

 

David Singer, BG 216, Grateful Dead, Taj Mahal, Big Foot; Brotherhood of Light, 1970.

That image presaged Singer’s crowning achievement for the Dead, BG 227, a skeletal hand holding a chambered nautilus, set against a supernova in deep space. It is a vision of birth and death framed by the ultimate context: the universe itself, gestating a star gone supernova.

David Singer, BG 227, Grateful Dead, Miles Davis Quintet, Stone the Crows; Brotherhood of Light, 1970.