This is an extremely important poster historically, as it marked the end of Wes Wilson’s early work for Bill Graham. It was printed using a “split fountain” technique which allowed for a changing gradient of color
By the Spring of 1967 Bill Graham realized that the posters he was commissioning were great works of art, not just advertisements. He increased the press runs to 3,500-5,000 and sold a big chunk to Ben Friedman who sold them through his store in North Beach, the legendary Postermat. He also kept 1,000-2,000 for himself to sell later. When Wes Wilson learned of this, he confronted Graham, asking for a $1 per poster royalty on what were now works of art being resold, not just “work for hire” advertisements. Graham refused and this poster was the result.
The central image is an illustration of a nude woman (Eva, his wife?) staring plainly ahead. With one hand, she extends the Yin-Yang circle with male and female symbols in each and her other hand rests on her pregnant stomach. Around her are several men’s faces – is the frowning one on the right Bill Graham? No matter, Wilson makes his feelings clear with the powerful snake with a large dollar sign in its mouth and a stylized swastika on the serpent’s nose. Graham, having barely escaped the Holocaust as a child, fired Wilson immediately.
By May 1967, the Grateful Dead were established Fillmore headliners, and their first album had been released in March. At this time, radio was quite regional, and the San Francisco bands' singles got airplay on local AM radio and locally, their “Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)” peaked at #4 the week after these shows. The Paupers were the hottest band in Toronto and they played very well at the Fillmore, only to bomb a month later at Monterey.