In the spring of 1966, the Avalon Ballroom and the Fillmore Auditorium, two separate venues near the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco simultaneously began promoting weekly rock concerts by local musicians. The bands who played at these dance concerts—including Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, Big Brother & The Holding Company (featuring Janis Joplin), Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Country Joe & The Fish—created a brand of loose, blues-based improvisational jamming that would become known as “The San Francisco Sound.”
The owners of both venues commissioned an ongoing series of posters to advertise their weekly concerts. The Avalon series ran through November 1968 and numbers about 150 posters; the Fillmore series continued until July 1971, and includes nearly 300. A third, smaller series of vibrant, eye-popping posters called Neon Rose was designed by Victor Moscoso.
The prints in this exhibition, all dating from 1966-67, were selected from a group of thirty-eight posters recently donated to the Museum by members of the Visiting Committee for the Department of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs.
To heighten your journey back to the Summer of Love, download and listen to tracks from that era while viewing the art. Suggested songs include live versions of the Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star,” Janis Joplin’s “Summertime,” The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” and lesser-known gems like the original “Somebody To Love” by Grace Slick’s first band, The Great Society.
For a complete list of songs for “Light My Fire,” go to the playlist on iTunes.