WES WILSON – The Fillmore Posters

Posted: April 12, 2015 in WE LOVE
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More classic psychedelic lettering by our good friend here in “Posterville”, and acclaimed father of the style and legendary BIG FIVE artist, Wes Wilson. WE have poster #61 in the old Fillmore poster series. This poster dates back 46 years ago. On this date in 1967, Buffalo Springfield, The Steve Miller Band and Freedom Highway played for a revved up audience at the Fillmore Auditorium here in the city by the bay. There are several variation of this poster due to the fact that the colors of inks were changed during the press run. I wish I could put up a few of the different colored posters as they are all really beautiful. This one is my favorite though.
The image here is of a fantasy face of a figure with a long head dress which forms the lettering. In one way,it is very unfortunate that Wes was about to have a dispute with Bill Graham which led to him no longer producing posters for the Fillmore concerts because most of the designs he created at this time were some of the most brilliant works of graphic artistry created in the 20th century. I truly believe that …..wouldn’t you agree? Alas, he went onto create a vast amount of posters long after that, and continues to this day producing some incredible pieces. Look up his website to see just what he’s been up too.

In spite of artistic differences, Family Dog’s “Top Dog” Chet Helms and Master Big FIve rock artist, Wes Wilson collaborated on the beginnings of what led to a revolutionary explosion of creativity in Psychedelic Poster Art. Both Helms and Wilson are credited with the artwork on this poster. The image on this piece certainly screams at the viewer… “Strange things are going to happen at this concert advertised on this Poster”! This is probably exactly was Chet wanted, and is one of the main elements of psychedelic art, …an appeal to weirdness.


It was 49 years ago (holy crap) on this day back in 1966, that Love, The Sons of Adam and The Charlatans played at the Fillmore Auditorium for the last Family Dog event to take place there. After that it was mostly ALL Avalon Ballroom with a couple of exceptions. Lights that night provided by Tony Martin’s Light Sights. This “Poster From The Past” is Family Dog poster #4 in the original series. It was printed three times.

Wes Wilson (Robert Wesley Wilson). Grateful Dea, Junior Wells, Chicago Blues Band, and The Doors. 1966. Offset Lithograph, 22 3/4 x 14" (57.8 x 35.5 cm). Gift of Joseph H. Heil; Wes Wilson (Robert Wesley Wilson). Jefferson Airplane / Grateful Dead. 1966. Lithograph, 20 x 14 1/4" (50.8 x 36.2 cm). Gift of the designer

Consider the design work of  Wes Wilson, the unofficial father of the 1960s concert poster: the Jefferson Airplane / Grateful Dead concert at the Fillmore, or The Grateful Dead, Junior Wells, Chicago Blues Band, and The Doors concert. Wilson, who dropped out of school for forestry, found himself in the right place at the right time—San Francisco, just before the “Summer of Love” working for a printer. His only formal design training was a few night school art classes and trips to the library for inspiration from the likes of Alphonse Mucha, Gustav Klimt, and Alfred Roller—excellent choices by anyone’s standard. Making the scene brought him in contact with concert promoters Chet Helms and the Family Dog and Bill Graham, and one thing led to another.

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