Frank Zappa and Alice Cooper
Hail Hail!, 1969/1972
First printing, lithograph, Condition: Near Mint
Signed by Rick Griffin
Framed: 26" tall x 19 3/4" wide
Close-up of extra Rick Griffin signature
Close-up of frame
Close-up of frame at angle
Original Poster for the concert by Gordon McClelland.
This rare first printing of this poster – which actually commemorates the event because it was printed in 1972 – is one of Rick Griffin’s most sought-after designs. And what a combination – Frank Zappa and a very early Alice Cooper – what a bill! Griffin was trying to show off his graphic capabilities...despite the chops his previous works had already displayed....
Griffin’s bloodthirsty Viking eyeballs first appeared in 1968 in Zap Comix Issue 2. Like other San Francisco “Big Five” poster artist Victor Moscoso, Griffin was also very active in the underground comix scene.
So, digging a bit further it turns out the concert advertisted on this poster was made up. The real concert did happen, but back on March 15, 1969. And there was an original poster for the concert done by Gordon McClelland and you can see it above in the thumbnails. Interestingly, back in 1969 the band was promoted as "Mothers of Invention," but in 1972 Zappa was touring under his own name (...."and the wazoo band"). This left a much stronger graphic treatment for Rick Griffin to go to town on!
Gordon, who also did the light show at the concert told the Bahr Gallery the story:
"Several years after the concert, I started the California Graphic Exchange poster company in San Clemente to distribute old concert posters from California rock shows. I was also working as an agent for my close friend and neighbor Rick Griffin and featured posters he designed in the CGE catalogs. We decided Rick would do a new poster for the old event and that is the poster you have for sale. Since the Mothers of Invention were no longer playing under that name he used Frank Zappa instead. I had it printed at Burbank Litho in Santa Ana. Rick got money from CGE sales on all the posters, that included old SF & LA ones he designed and the new posters he was designing at the time. It was an honor and pleasure to have worked with Rick during those years"
The story of Frank Zappa and Alice Cooper merits some retelling.
One night after an unsuccessful gig at the Cheetah club in Venice, California, where the band emptied the entire room of patrons after playing just ten minutes, Alice Cooper were approached and enlisted by music manager Shep Gordon, who saw the band's negative impact that night as a force that could be turned in a more productive direction. Shep then arranged an audition for the band with Frank Zappa, who was looking to sign bizarre music acts to his new record label. For the audition Zappa told them to come to his house "at 7 o'clock." The band mistakenly assumed he meant 7 o'clock in the morning. Being woken up by a band willing to play that particular brand of psychedelic rock at seven in the morning impressed Zappa enough for him to sign them to a three-album deal.
Alice Cooper's first album, Pretties for You, released in 1969, was eclectic and featured an experimental presentation of their songs in a psychedelic context. The musical connection with Zappa was apparent. The elements of the band's fundamental sound are present, surrounded by unusual studio overdubs and effects. Although Pretties for You touched the US charts for one week at No. 193, it was ultimately a critical and commercial failure.
Ultimately, Alice Cooper continued to pay their dues and experiment with increasingly outlandish and shocking stage acts (witnessed by a pre-Ziggy David Bowie among others) until their breakthrough, “I’m Eighteen,” was released in 1970.