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This is one of the truly classic images from the early Fillmore poster series featuring the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. There are several important firsts associated with this poster. Designed by Wes Wilson, acknowledged as the father of the psychedelic poster, it is the first time Wes experimented with the lettering style created by Alfred Roller of the Vienna Secessionist movement in the early 1900s. In addition, it’s the first Fillmore poster to feature photos of the bands. Wilson designed 45 of the first 50 Fillmore posters for Bill Graham and the first 10 for Chet Helms and The Family Dog as well. Sadly, Wilson passed away in January 2020.
The fact the Jefferson Airplane is promoted on top of the bill ahead of the Grateful Dead is not by accident. In fact, the Airplane was the bigger name band in San Francisco from late 1965 until around 1970 when they started to drift apart and the Dead released American Beauty and Workingman’s Dead, propelling their career forward. The Airplane were a month away from the release of their first album, “Jefferson Airplane Takes Off,” and later would have two Top Ten hits with Somebody to Love and White Rabbit. An interesting note there is that those two songs were brought to the Airplane by their new singer, Grace Slick, who had been performing them with her previous band, The Great Society.