This is an exceptionally rare poster, even more so in this condition.
The Grateful Dead turned New Year's Eve into a San Francisco Bay area institution. If you include Jerry Garcia shows and guest appearances, the Dead played 24 of 26 New Year's Eves in the San Francisco Bay Area, including every year from 1970 to 1991. The two exceptions were Boston in 1967 and the show advertised in this poster, December 31, 1969 at the Boston Tea Party.
As if being a New Years run weren’t enough to make these shows memorable, this was a powerful turning point for the band. In 1969 The Dead were still in their prime as creators of long psychedelic jams. However, these three concerts presented a fresh, roots-folk, acoustic and sometimes semi-country style of songwriting.
From the two yet-to-be released 1970 landmark albums “Workingman’s Dead” and “American Beauty,” new acoustic songs like “Uncle John’s Band”, “High Time”, “Dire Wolf”, and “Black Peter” were performed alongside their 1969 electric mind-blowing musical explorations. It truly was the best of both worlds, and a historic time for the Dead in every respect.
Want to listen to the New Year’s Eve show?? Click here!
The Boston Tea Party was Boston’s psychedelic ballroom and presented rock shows from 1967 until 1970 when it closed for the same reasons as the Fillmore’s East and West: rock acts moved into arenas and stadiums. Located in South Boston and later across from Fenway Park, the Tea Party was owned by the same people who owned WBCN, which quickly became the top music station in Boston. In 1967, recent Harvard Law graduate Steve Nelson was asked to manage the recently opened Boston Tea Party.
Steve Nelson notes, “I was very conscious of trying to develop an image for the Tea Party that set it apart from the psychedelic look of its counterparts on the West Coast. The work the poster artists were doing out there was spectacular, and I didn’t want to do a second-rate version of that, which is what the Tea Party had been doing when I came on board. I brought in my friend Bob Driscoll to do posters and ads. He created an entirely new unpsychedelic look, spare with lots of white space, very New York, minimalist, usually black and white, very Cambridge Design Research-y. Absolutely brilliant.”
The haunting image of the beautiful woman looking out at you is one Kathy Spencer, who was a student at the Museum School (at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston). The image was created by a classmate of hers (unknown) and Kathy gave it to Bob Driscoll, who incorporated it in the poster. She was also the model for an earlier Boston Tea Party poster for the Yardbirds, in 1968. You can see that poster and a younger Kathy Spencer HERE