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    PICK OF THE LITTER: THE FAMILY DOG THAT NOBODY HAS

    FD-1 Jefferson Airplane "A Tribal Stomp" Rare First Family Dog Fillmore Concert Poster. One of the true Holy Grails of the psychedelic concert poster hobby... a very rare original, pre-show first printing of the first Family Dog concert poster advertising the Jefferson Airplane and Big Brother & The Holding Company on Saturday night, February 19, 1966 at San Francisco's Fillmore Auditorium.

    FD-1 is one of those key psychedelic concert posters that everyone wants and needs, but only the privileged few have. The print run has been scholastically estimated at 250-300 copies, and most of those were discarded after the show. People didn't save this one because it wasn't a visual beauty with catchy colors, and nobody knew this would turn into a hobby a few months later. Any that were saved were likely done so accidentally, and by the quirky few Bay Area denizens who felt it might be a cute memento.

    "A Tribal Stomp" was designed by the legendary Wes Wilson, who sadly passed away just a few months ago. Wes is known as the dean of San Francisco psychedelic poster artists, having designed the first 10 Family Dog posters and 45 of the first 50 Bill Grahams. And FD-1 was the first poster Wes drew for either promoter; his first BG poster would come a month later ("Batman").

    This poster is referred to as "Tribal Stomp" because of the wording found on the American Indian artwork in the center. Wes did all the drawing and designing, but Chet picked out the photo and theme, his MO in the Family Dog's early days. This was also the debut of the Dog's Indian-smoking-a-joint logo appearing in the upper left corner. This was only half of it, however; Wilson would flush it out to completeness on the very next poster (King Kong).

    FD-1 is a perfect representation of the earliest psychedelic poster art, with its low-budget lack of colors (which would often be added by hand later by fans), its rolling, psychedelic yet easy-to-read lettering, the quaint simplicity of just one show on a Saturday night, its effortless $2.00 admission price, and two of San Francisco's most famous bands ever. (Janis Joplin was not in BBHC yet; she would join them about five months later. And don't forget, Grace Slick wasn't in the Airplane yet either.)

    This Tribal Stomp has wonderful provenance, too, in that it's from the collection of Bob Cohen, who co-owned and co-ran the Family Dog with Chet Helms from 1966-1968, and whose archives we're selling in this auction. It's also a highly unusual specimen in that it has the Family Dog bookkeeper's notes on the back. Who was that person? "I don't remember, to be honest," Cohen tells Heritage. "It could have been Chet's wife, Laurie. It would've had to be somebody we really trusted."

    Historians and just the plain curious will enjoy poring over the scribbled figures and making sense of them. In one section, it looks like the FD-7 "Euphoria" dance concert was being tallied, with mentions of the Daily Flash, Rising Sons and Big Brother, although we're not sure how the Jay Walkers figured in. Other fun notes reference Top 40 radio station KFRC, artist Wilson and Family Dog co-founder John Carpenter, almost always with financial tallies by their name. The bigger 2/3 portion of the verso name-checks Bill Ham (lights), Cokes for refreshment, KJAZ radio and returned/bounced checks, among many other things.

    It becomes clear what happened in the Family Dog office; extra, unused first-printing FD-1 posters were simply cut or torn neatly into strips and the plain-white backs used to tally up cash flow. Voila, instant stationery! Although the very thought of this is enough to make a collector faint today.

    This poster we're offering was skillfully put back together by an independent world-class poster restoration expert. It was not simply one poster torn in thirds; it was approximately 2/3 of one poster and ½ of another, both first printings of course, giving our resto guy the overlapping material he needed to pull off his fusing magic. There are no more FD-1 scrap pieces extant, by the way; this was it.

    So whatever the incredibly low population count was for FD-1 originals before this, you can now add one more. Comprised 100% out of two posters personally printed by Wes Wilson at Contact Printing, the small San Francisco shop he owned back then, in either January or early February 1966, when the psychedelic concert-poster movement was still at ground zero.

    Now that's history for you.

    Measures 13 ¾" x 19 ¾" and grades to restored Very Good condition. COAs from Bob Cohen and from Heritage Auctions.

    To view Bob Cohen's biography, "A Patriarch of the San Francisco Scene," please click here.


    More Information: Our headline calls this the "first Family Dog poster," but scholars of Bay Area music history know that the actual "first" Family Dog concert poster was "A Tribute to Dr. Strange" in October 1965. Chet Helms and Bob Cohen were not involved with that amateur four-person collective, so we're referring to the more organized, official Family Dog concert promotion firm that flourished in the Bay Area from 1966-1968 and produced a long series of numbered concert posters, just like Bill Graham did.

    Another historical note; or actually, an Editorial. There's a Charlatans 1965 Virginia City, Nevada psychedelic/old-western concert poster that's called "The Seed," because it's the first psych poster designed to advertise live music with any relation to San Francisco. We don't dispute that. But we would add that maybe there are two additional, legitimate "Seed" posters to consider. The October 1965 "Tribute to Dr. Strange" psychedelic concert poster from Longshoreman's Hall was the very first organized dance-concert advertising poster in San Francisco, incredibly important and seminal, so that should certainly be considered an important Seed.

    And then you have this FD-1, "A Tribal Stomp," the very first psychedelic concert poster in the entire universe of Bill Graham and Family Dog numbered concert posters, totaling over 400 in all, that carried on for years going forward and became cultural touchstones with worldwide fame, embraced by a generation bent on changing the world.

    We'd say that this poster is certainly an important, towering Seed all on its own.

    Condition details: A very unusual piece, defying some of the usual grading standards. Poster was re-assembled from three separate pieces of two original pre-show printing FD-1's (see above). Thus, there are two horizontal ‘seams', one through the top of the "A" in the oval and the other right above the "B" in "Brother." An independent world-class poster restoration expert fused the three pieces together, the same individual who repaired our two Beatles 1966 Shea Stadium concert posters that sold for over $100,000 each in the last few months.

    Notice this FD-1 has the dark ‘scumming' at the bottom which is associated with first printings of this poster. That ink scumming was inherent on almost all original printings of this poster, as they were hand-rolled at Contact Printing by Wes Wilson himself. According to the web site PrintWiki.org, "In offset lithography, scumming is a generic term for the presence of ink on non-image areas of the printing plate, which can be caused by a variety of press conditions." To serious poster collectors, this ink residue doesn't lessen the value of this extremely rare piece, but actually adds to its authenticity.

    Poster had some yellowing in top half of the oval and center of "Airplane" that was skillfully dialed way back. Top two corners had thumbtack tear-aways which have been restored. Some pen markings in upper left corner was also eliminated. As much discussed, verso filled with accounting notes and figures from the era this poster was created, early 1966.

    Also included in this lot is a copy of the paperback book, The Haight-Ashbury: A History by Charles Perry (Wenner Books, 2005), an excellent reference book for this material and a highly entertaining read.

    Literature: See Grushkin, Paul, The Art of Rock: Posters from Presley to Punk, Abbeville Press, New York, 1987, p.70-71 (background), p.95 (illustrated).


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2020
    8th-9th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 33
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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