Poster artist Allan “Gut” Terk, was a legendary outlaw biker, Merry Prankster, graphic artist, and an original mainstay of the California 1960s counterculture.
Soon after leaving high school, Terk joined the U.S. Navy, becoming a submarine sonar specialist. While serving in the Navy, he joined the Hell Bent for Glory Motorcycle Club, which included several soon to be infamous Hells Angels, such as James “Mother” Miles and John Terrance Tracy (better known as “Terry the Tramp”).
According to Los Angeles-based author/filmmaker and motorcycle club historian Bo Bushnell, it was during this time that Terk received the moniker of “Gut”, because “although he was extremely skinny, he would eat a lot of food and was always in the refrigerator at the club house.”
Bushnell recounts, “Eventually Hell Bent for Glory became the North Sacramento chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. Gut flew those colors for a few years until he and Terry the Tramp transferred down to the Berdoo chapter in San Bernardino in 1962, and later in 1964 transferred to the Oakland chapter – not so much to stay in the Hells Angels but rather to follow his dream of being an artist. Once in the Bay Area, Gut immersed himself in the intellectual beatnik/hipster scene blossoming in Berkeley, Palo Alto and San Francisco and soon met a young writer named Ken Kesey.
Hunter S. Thompson, in his 1966 book, "Hell's Angels," describes Gut Terk as “a wanderer…(who) wanted to be a commercial artist, and his sketchbook of motorcycle drawings showed a natural talent”. Tom Wolfe, in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," depicts Gut as enthusiastic and generous, providing the Pranksters a place to shower above his San Francisco head shop, called Joint Ventures. Wolfe describes Gut letting out a whoop while breaking into a dance when his name was called out at the Merry Pranksters 1966 Acid Test Graduation (Terk designed the certificates handed out that night).
By 1967, Terk had gained acclaim as a graphic artist by creating original lettering and designs for Grateful Dead T-shirts and posters for now-legendary Bay Area concerts—his posters for a Big Brother and the Holding Company concert at Sokol Hall and The Trips Festival at Longshoreman’s Hall are two 1966 works that are now highly prized by collectors. Three of his posters are currently hanging in the Bahr Gallery as part of the Hippie Ethos Exhibition.
Outlaw Archive curator Bo Bushnell wrote upon his Gut's death,
“Gut was so many things to me: friend, brother, mentor, grandpa. His influence on me and countless others will live on. In my opinion, he was one of the best Hells Angels to ever live. But Gut was so much more than just a Hells Angel; he was so many things in one person, so much so that it’s actually hard to define him. He was an amazing artist to many rock bands; he was a Merry Prankster; he managed Blue Cheer; he was a knife maker, a motorcycle builder, a car builder, a sailor and a cowboy…Ride In Paradise, you legend…You lit the match that ignited the zeitgeist of the 1960s, and then disappeared into thin air.”