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    BILL GRAHAM PRESENTS THE MINT SET-BREAKER

    BG-74 Grateful Dead / Jefferson Airplane 1967 Toronto Concert Poster CGC-Graded 9.8. An original, first printing BG-74 Bill Graham concert poster for the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane playing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for a full week in the summer of 1967. The series of shows took place at Toronto's O'Keefe Centre from Monday, July 31 through Saturday, August 5. And best of all, this incredible specimen has been graded Near Mint/Mint 9.8 by the Certified Guarantee Company (CGC).

    An original, first printing BG-74 Bill Graham concert poster for the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane playing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for a full week in the summer of 1967. The series of shows took place at Toronto's O'Keefe Centre from Monday, July 31 through Saturday, August 5. And best of all, this incredible specimen has been graded near mint/mint 9.8 by the Certified Guarantee Company (CGC).

    Finding any poster graded above nine-and-a-half by CGC is truly a rare and special find, especially in the early years of 1966-67. But this isn't just any vintage Bill Graham concert poster - it's the extremely coveted BG-74, the so-called "set breaker" that everybody wants but only a lucky few have. Since the show was in Canada, legend has it that most copies - printed by Tea Lautrec in San Francisco - were confiscated at the border by Canadian customs, and very few survived. The entire Bill Graham numbered series run of 287 posters is not complete without it, and yet so very few have it - in any condition. In gem mint? This is uncharted territory.

    The attractiveness and importance of this poster can't be overstated, either. "Bill Graham Presents The San Francisco Scene," it says across the top. Below that, designer James Gardner expertly crafted the "roller alphabet" used for his lettering. He also utilized the two band photos by esteemed San Francisco photographer Herb Greene, creating a masterwork combining psychedelic graphics with photos of 11 musicians that we all know and love... the two most famous acts to emerge from San Francisco in the 60's.

    The Airplane are top-billed because their legendary Summer of Love single "White Rabbit" had just entered Billboard magazine's Top 10 singles chart, and earlier that spring their "Somebody to Love" had set-up the historic summer with its national anthem. The Dead would prove to be much more enduring over the long run - selling out football stadiums to this day - but in this, the first 25 months of each band's existence, the Airplane were top-billed on the strength of their singles.

    There was actually a third band who played these concerts, Luke and the Apostles, an electric blues-rock group from Toronto. They're part of this artwork as used on the cover of the program for this week, but didn't make Gardner's cut for the poster art. Many consider that to be a good thing... I mean, the Airplane and the Dead, what more do you need, why mess things up with an unknown band? (With all due respect, of course.) But what did get credited in that spot was "Light Show by Headlights."

    Eight shows in all were advertised by this poster. There were nightly shows starting at 8:30 PM Monday-Saturday, and then afternoon matinees on Wednesday and Saturday. This was not part of a joint tour by the bands; this was a one-off weeklong presentation by Bill Graham, also the Airplane's manager at the time. Graham had a vision of taking his show on the road and spreading the Bay-Area music gospel to the far reaches of the upper Northeast. Just another unique aspect of this extremely special poster. And to be able to find one in the same condition that it was printed on a summer day in 1967 makes this a Smithsonian piece. All part of the long, strange trip it's been, for both bands.

    Measures 14" x 20 ½" and grades to Near Mint/Mint 9.8 condition by the Certified Guarantee Company (CGC). COA from Heritage Auctions.

    Literature: See Grushkin, Paul, The Art of Rock: Posters from Presley to Punk, Abbeville Press, New York, 1987, p.160 (illus.).


    More Information: Pictured in the Jefferson Airplane photo up top were, left to right, guitarist/singer Paul Kantner, lead singer/organist Grace Slick, bassist Jack Casady in the center, group founder and singer Marty Balin, drummer Spencer Dryden and guitarist/vocalist Jorma Kaukonen.

    The Grateful Dead photo, from left to right, shows bassist Phil Lesh, drummer Bill Kreutzmann, guitarist/singer Jerry Garcia, guitarist/singer Bob Weir and keyboardist/singer Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. Second drummer Mickey Hart would join the group the very next month (September).

    To give you an idea of what the Airplane were performing this week, according to the scholarly book Take Me to a Circus Tent: The Jefferson Airplane Flight Manual, the following songs were performed, in this order, at the August 5 matinee: "She Has Funny Cars," "Bringing Me Down," "High Flying Bird," "White Rabbit," "Come Back Baby" (Jorma on vocals), "It's No Secret," "The Other Side of This Life," "Let's Get Together," "Let Me In" (the band's last-ever performance of those two early songs), "Today," a short blues jam, "Go To Her," "Spare "Chaynge" (full version, very rare), "3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds," a 10-minute "Fat Angel," and (likely the encore) "Somebody to Love." That amounted to four songs from their debut LP Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, five from the band's current classic Surrealistic Pillow, and one from their upcoming After Bathing at Baxter's album.

    While the Airplane closed the chapter on a couple of their songs on the final date of this stand, the Dead opened an important chapter up. Saturday, August 5th marked their debut performance of "Turn on Your Lovelight," the Pigpen spotlight which was a cover of Bobby "Blue" Bland's R&B classic. It became a staple of the group's live shows, with over 300 performances turned in up until Jerry Garcia's death in 1995. (And then Bob Weir carried it on afterwards, last singing it in June 2015 at one of the Bay Area's Fare Thee Well shows.)


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    1st-2nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 28
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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