The Posters of the Grateful Dead Archive

Spreading the Word: Going Hollywood

At the end of the Summer of Love, Bill Graham took the Dead to Hollywood. It was a gesture that Garcia chuckled over in an interview at the time, commenting that the idea appealed “just for the flash of playing in the Hollywood Bowl,” but behind his words is the very real assurance that now they were indeed a professional band, capable of competing with any polished L.A. outfit. For the poster advertising the Hollywood Bowl shows, Graham commissioned Jim Blashfield, who created a timeless San Francisco image: a stylized Victorian showcasing a Herb Greene photo of the Airplane, with beautifully wrought Roller lettering announcing the Airplane, the Dead, and Big Brother and the Holding Company. It is a classic period piece, the Haight-Ashbury personified in a bill featuring the three iconic bands who exemplified the neighborhood’s communal mentality.

Jim Blashfield, BG 81. Bill Graham Presents the San Francisco Scene Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Glen McKay’s Head Lights, September 15, 1967.

The poster also documents the denouement of the Summer of Love. Not only is BG 81 a mark of Graham’s expanding reach as a promoter, it also shows how San Francisco’s poster art had now inspired a new generation, not only in the City but far beyond the foggy confines of San Francisco.

Blashfield went on to create a number of fine images for Graham, including his elegant evocation of two lovebirds in BG 83.

Jim Blashfield, BG 83. “Bill Graham Presents in San Francisco - Electric Flag, Mother Earth, LDM Spiritual Band, September 14-16 [1967].”