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Poster - Bill Graham Presents

Bill Graham Presents

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    San Francisco (designed)

  • Date:

    1966 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Wilson, Wes, born 1937 (designer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithography on paper.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Fillmore in San Francisco is a historic music venue, named after its original location at the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard. Known as the Fillmore Auditorium in the mid-1960s, concert promoter Bill Graham began a series of concerts featuring bands from the counterculture of the time. In 1968, due to his spiralling success, he moved to a larger venue which he named Fillmore West. Having closed in 1971, and after extensive repair work to fix earthquake damage, Graham's was revived when Live Nation reopened the original Fillmore venue in 1994.

San Francisco in the mid-1960s was the hub of the LSD and Hippie scene and the cultural and political rebellion of 1967's Summer of Love. The resulting influence of these factors on the artists of the area created the fantastic psychedelic posters of the Fillmore. Art dealer Jacaeber Kastor said of the posters, "They couldn't just tell you the information about the show. They had to tell you what kind of people you might meet, what kind of far out trip you might have or perhaps even reveal the mysteries of the universe. Wow. Quantum mechanics, visual mudwrestling, Acid test pop quiz on a phone pole!"

The artist of this poster, Wes Wilson, was a designer in the San Francisco small press company Contact, creating posters for Bill Graham's Fillmore and rival promoter Chet Helms' Avalon Ballroom. He stopped working for Helms in August 1966, as he received more artistic freedom from Graham. He adapted his lettering style from an Art Nouveau and Expressionism exhibition, expanding the outlines and shapes exaggeratedly, creating intense patterns for the backgrounds. He used vibrant and contrasting colours, which, combined with the patterns, often made the text almost indecipherable. His choice of colours was to reflect the nature of the stimulating light shows that accompanied the concerts.

This gig was headlined by The Wailers, also known as The Fabulous Wailers, a rock band from Tacoma, Washington, regarded as one of the first American garage bands. Their song 'It's You Alone', referenced on the poster, was released in 1966. Also playing was Quicksilver Messenger Service, a band considered one of San Francisco's leading acts on the city's psychedelic scene in the mid-to-late 1960s. Though not ultimately as commercially successful as their contemporaries Jefferson Airplane and The Grateful Dead, the band was integral to the beginnings of their genre.

Physical description

Poster advertising The Wailers and Quicksilver Messenger Service performing June 17 and 18, 1966 at Fillmore West, San Francisco. White background with blue and red pattern and typography. Designed by Wes Wilson. BG11

Place of Origin

San Francisco (designed)


1966 (designed)


Wilson, Wes, born 1937 (designer)

Materials and Techniques

Lithography on paper.


Height: 51.9 cm, Width: 34.8 cm

Object history note

Transferred as part of a collection from the Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York, in 1985.

Descriptive line

Poster advertising The Wailers and Quicksilver Messenger Service performing June 17 and 18, 1966 at Fillmore West, San Francisco. Designed by Wes Wilson. BG11

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Lemke, Gayle The Art of the Fillmore 1966-71, Thunder's Mouth Press, New York, 1999
Poster Collecting. Fillmore Poster. 06 August 2010.

Subjects depicted



Entertainment & Leisure; Advertising


Theatre and Performance Collection

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