Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    THE 800-LB. GORILLA OF SAN FRANCISCO CONCERT POSTERS

    FD-2 "King Kong Memorial Dance" Rare 1966 Family Dog Fillmore Concert Poster. A first-printing San Francisco concert poster for The Great! Society w/Grace Slick, the Grass Roots, Big Brother and the Holding Company and Quicksilver Messenger Service at the Fillmore Auditorium on Saturday, February 26, 1966.

    Known as FD-2 in the Family Dog numbered series, this poster comes from the personal archives of Bob Cohen, the man who co-owned the Family Dog and ran it with Chet Helms from early 1966 until the firm's demise in late 1968. The poster was co-designed by Wes Wilson (the FD logo in upper left) and Helms (the animal picture & theme).

    An 800-pound gorilla of a collector's item in more ways than one: only the second Family Dog concert poster, still in the primeval month of February 1966, once again nearly impossible to find in its pre-concert first printing. This "King Kong Memorial Dance" poster was printed by graphic artist Wes Wilson in the little Contact Printing shop in San Francisco where he worked. Less than 500 of these were printed, just like with FD-1, and very few of them survive today.

    Notice the dark 'scumming' in the lower left margin 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 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 bolsters its authenticity.

    For the poster's design, Chet Helms simply cut this simian image out of a picture-magazine of the day, perhaps Life, Look or The Saturday Evening Post. That original magazine-page cut-out measures only about 7" x 10". The logo and lettering were then added and the whole image was blown up to print as posters (and shrunk down for handbills).

    This poster also marks the debut of the new, fully-formed Family Dog logo. On FD-1, Helms had come up with the idea of a Native American Indian with a joint in its mouth instead of a peace pipe. Only the oval-shaped photo ran on that poster. For this poster, FD-2, Wes Wilson had added the design elements you see surrounding the oval, and the new company had its identity.

    The show was headlined by The Great! Society featuring Grace Slick, who wrote "White Rabbit" while in this band, and her brother-in-law Darby Slick, who wrote "Somebody to Love." This was the very month that North Beach Records released the latter song as the band's only single (using the original title of "Some one to Love"). As you know, the Jefferson Airplane's version the next year would become the Summer of Love's national anthem.

    Also on the bill were The Grass Roots, undergoing a personnel turnstile in their earliest days. They had released one single, a cover of Bob Dylan's "Ballad of a Thin Man" from Highway 61 Revisited, which ABC/Dunhill decided to call "Mr. Jones (A Ballad of a Thin Man)." It didn't stick, but a couple of months after this show the Roots released "Where Were You When I Needed You," which achieved national Top 30 success due to heavy airplay in California. A lot of success followed over the next five years.

    Big Brother & The Holding Co. needs no introduction, although Janis Joplin was still four months away from joining the band. Still, the twin guitar attacks of Sam Andrew and James Gurley were starting to draw a lot of attention in the Bay Area. Managed by Chet Helms - yes, Mr. Family Dog - the group had 'gone public' only two months prior to this. This is their debut appearance on any Family Dog or Bill Graham concert poster. It's also the only BBHC poster with their original drummer Chuck Jones, before Dave Getz took over the stool in March.

    And Quicksilver Messenger Service, comprised of five Virgos, were no more experienced than BBHC; they had also debuted under their final name just in December. Their core members had met at the "Tribute to Dr. Strange" dance-concert the previous October. QMS had their own sublime dual-guitar attack in John Cipollina and Gary Duncan. Although never having a hit single, they would come to be known as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, live San Francisco bands of the era.

    Measures slightly under 14" x 20" and grades to Very Good Plus 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: To the uninitiated: Slogans like "King Kong Memorial Dance" were just catchy phrases and themes creatively thought up to give the earliest events a little more cache and marketing clout. The Family Dog's FD-1 had been named "A Tribal Stomp," and you might remember how the previous fall (1965) the first founders of the Family Dog named their shindigs after comic-book heroes. None of it mattered once you walked in the door; for this show, there were no apes swinging on trapezes from the ceiling. Bill Graham tried it once in the early days, using "Batman" for his BG-2 marketing, but then let the idea more or less die. And the Family Dog quickly moved to brief names instead of theme dances, preferring non sequiturs like "Euphoria," "The Laugh Cure" and "Hayfever" at the top of their posters.

    Condition details: There's a small unobtrusive ‘tape lift' in the gold border under the "I" in "Fillmore" that's about a quarter-inch square. Blends in naturally with the soft white ‘clouding' in the bottom corners of the gorilla photo. A little bit of natural dirt and grime visible in the margins here and there, such as to the left of the FD logo, to the left of "The Grass Roots" and in the upper and lower margins. In the extreme lower right corner's margin, that little line you see is not a crease or tear of any kind; it's either a printer's hash mark or a light pencil mark that got on there, but we made no attempt to remove it. Also, want to split (gorilla) hairs? There's some kind of slight, light surface imperfection to the solid black above the ape's eyes, maybe on his chin and then down between "Saturday" and "Feb." We don't need to say this kind of imperfection is visible only under the closest scrutiny and when the poster is tilted at an extreme angle to the light. Bob Cohen assures us that his posters were never touched by anybody who would want to fix anything, so it's surely just the cheap printing job. Straight-on and standing three feet back, about all that anybody sees is the scumming, the most visible side effect of the printing process.

    On the verso, "Pebbled Gold 784" is written at the top in pen, surely written either at Contact Printing or back at the Family Dog office. It also may be new information to the hobby, as this poster is sometimes called "tan" or "orange." Still on the verso, there's also a tiny tape-lift tear in the lower left margin; a tiny tiny paper ‘uplift' in almost dead center, but has zero repercussions; and a little bit of the ‘smudging' showing through from the front, in the lower right margin area.

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


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2020
    8th-9th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 23
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,704

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold on Aug 8, 2020 for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2022 April 3 Guitars and Musical Instruments Signature® Auction .

    Learn about consigning with us

    We are extremely pleased with your company. Personally, I will ensure that if we go back to Dallas area we ask you guys for Mr. Walker again. I got nothing but praises from you and your team!!
    Rafael Vega,
    Miami, FL
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search