This an early and extremely rare Family Dog Poster and the first time the Grateful Dead were associated with a skull motif. The central image is an illustration by the Mexican artist Jose Posada who offered many many skeletons related to the Day of the Dead to choose from. Family Dog promoter Chet Helms chose this one and Wes Wilson designed the poster. This skeleton is looking fairly dapper, all decked out and ready to go to the show! The Dead were looking for some sort of logo or design to associate with and this was an early candidate – the Mouse and Kelley “Skeleton and Roses” poster in September 1966 won out.
This was the second time The Grateful Dead had shared a bill with Quicksilver Messenger Service and the connection with the phrase, “The Quick and The Dead,” was just waiting to happen. The expression, commonly used in the Bible (The Apostles’ Creed for one), referred to judgement day when both the Quick and the Dead would be judged. In this case the “quick,” were simply the living. Later, the term was related to gunfights as one shooter would be quick and the other dead. Given the Western, and Edwardian themes permeating the early hippie ethos (google The Charlatans and see QMS’s second album cover with a full western theme), plus the little cowboy hat on the skeleton, it’s more likely Wilson was thinking of the latter usage.
This is original first printing of this poster and it had aged a bit in tone, despite being printed on very heavy paper. It is from very early in the period, historically significant and a rarely available piece – anyone who has one of these is holding onto it.