“Why weren’t there more psychedelic posters coming out of New York?”
One has to lay responsibility at the feet of San Francisco’s Bill Graham – who was probably the greatest long-term supporter and benefactor of the psychedelic poster movement in the Bay Area! Graham, while appreciating the psychedelic poster artist’s argument that deliberately making their posters hard to read created engagement and enthusiasm for the product, longed for a more straightforward approach. In March 1968, when he opened the Fillmore East, he got his chance.
The Fillmore East became the hippie and rock fan hotspot in New York almost immediately. Graham soon came to prefer David Edward Byrd as his East Coast artist-in-residence, who designed his first poster for Graham in April 1968. The 28 year-old artist admitted he was "flying blind," and the design was his interpretation of "... what they were doing in San Francisco."
Despite Byrd having creating one of seminal poster images of the era for Jimi Hendrix late that Spring, Graham soon found that the he was selling out every show consistently no matter who was playing as the Fillmore East was “the place to be.” As such he moved to a less expensive approach, using simply designed (straightforward) postcards and handbills. Because Graham was sold on the handbill approach, the sum total of posters advertising shows at the Fillmore East, Bill Graham’s “Church of Rock and Roll,” was a mere seven. Even the closing of the Fillmore East in June 1971 could only warrant a large poster with a primary image of the upcoming shows.
David Byrd created the first poster for Woodstock (which was not used) and went on to create many posters for Broadway plays like Godspell, Follies and Little Shop of Horrors.
Photo on previous page of Fillmore East is by John Olson; The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images