The original Hawaiian Aoxomoxoa poster was created by Big Five artist Rick Griffin for a series of shows that were to be held July 25-27, 1968 at the Honolulu International Center’s Exhibit Hall. Unfortunately, the shows were cancelled, the promoter never paid the printer, and the printer threw most of the items in the trash because there wasn't a collector’s market for posters at the time. Legend has it that Rick Griffin asked the printer if he could take some of them back back on the plane with him to San Francisco – there are believed to be around 30 of the original first-print posters left in existence.
Due to the poster’s popularity, a second printing was authorized and printed in 1982 by Rick Griffin and Jose Kent, but it was signifigantly smaller than the original. There were reprtedly only 1,000 of these second printings made. On the authorized second print, the top of the skull and the area in the center of the yellow sun are pure white. In addition, the left edge of the design is not straight in two areas - there are two little "bump-outs." This piece, then, is a Second Printing.
The Art of Rock book mistakenly credits the Hawaiian Aox as happening in 1969 which is a significant mistake becuase Griffin reused many of the artistic elements in the origial Aoxomoxoa poster done for shows in January 1969 for Soundproof Productions. So....did Griffin reuse Aoxomoxoa for the Hawaiian poster? Or is it the other way around.
Newspaper accounts of the cancelled concerts - in 1968 - answer the question.
The July 26, 1968 Honolulu Advertiser reported:
"DEAD CANCEL APPEARANCE IN ISLANDS
The Grateful Dead, a San Francisco 'hard rock' combo, has canceled its weekend performances at the Honolulu International Center. An early 1969 date now is planned instead. Rock Scully, manager of the Warner Bros.-Seven Arts Records act, said that 'response to the Dead was more than ever expected, but in this heavy entertainment season, we feel we just won't reach all of the people that we would like to.' As a substitute, John Herbert, the local promoter, said he will schedule a free concert picnic at 2 p.m. at Sandy Beach, featuring local rock 'n' roll combos. Those holding tickets to the Dead show may get refunds from ticket counters from which they were purchased."
The July 27, 1968 Honolulu Star-Bulletin followed up:
"The Grateful Dead's scheduled dance this weekend at the International Center Exhibition Hall was scrubbed. Peter, Paul & Mary conclude their two-day Waikiki Shell engagement tonight at 8:30 p.m. The Dead would no doubt have been just that at the box office trying to compete against PP&M. Promoter John Herbert says he dropped a bundle on the Dead venture, but is staging a free concert-picnic tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Sandy Beach, hoping to maintain good will with fans of the Dead."
Aoxomoxoa was the third studio album by the Grateful Dead. It was originally titled Earthquake Country. Many Deadheads consider this era of the Dead to be the experimental apex of the band's history. Griffin did the first version of the Aoxomoxoa art for a series of shows the Dead did in January of 1969 at the Avalon, and the Dead used that artwork for the cover. Griffin reworked the art from those shows into the Hawaiian Aoxomoxoa, adding appropriate tiki and surfing images.