Santa Cruz at Ken Babbs 1965
The Big Beat, Polo Alto 1965
Fillmore Auditorium 1966
Can You Pass the Acid Test ?
The Acid Tests were events that were primarily the work of novelist Ken Kesey and a group of followers known as the Merry Pranksters. The early Acid Test posters were more of a simple handbill with the first real Acid Test poster appearing in late 1965 by Paul Foster which were followed by several other dates and designs.
The dawn of psychedelic posters coincided with the birth of the Grateful Dead and the advent of the Haight-Ashbury scene and among psychedelic poster collectors the "Acid Test" posters & handbills are the most highly sought after and are one of the most historically important posters issued from the early psychedelic era. Only a small quantity of these historical posters exist today, and the number of "Acid Test" Posters that have survived in true Mint Condition is most likely less than double digits.
Although the Haight community had been coalescing for some time, starting in the late fifties with Beat expatriates fleeing North Beach but it was not until the first rock concerts in the fall of 1965 that the proto-hippies of the Haight and the bohemians a more attuned and perceptive members of the larger Bay Area realized that there was something happening.
One of the primary catalysts for the scene was novelist Ken Kesey and his group of fellow psychedelic explorers, the Merry Pranksters. They hatched the idea of an "Acid Tests" which would be public multimedia parties featuring film, music, sound, and light which had to be done while LSD-25 was still legal, these "Acid Tests" were designed not so much to harness but unleash the potential of the extraordinarily powerful hallucinogen. Psychedelics were about learning to see again, and in the Haight, that also meant seeing the magic in everyday life.
For this HubPage we will be concentrating on the Poster & Handbill ephemera from these "Acid Test" events ..., Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out
The Grateful Dead, The Fugs, Acid Test Poster Muir Beach 1965
The Warlocks "Mind Bender" 1965
Can You Pass the Acid Test ? Muir Beach Poster 1965
This is a great event poster for the Muir Beach "Acid Tests" December 11, 1965. The happeners are likely to include: The Fugs, Allen Ginsberg, The Merry Pranksters, Neal Cassady, The Grateful Dead and Roy's Audioptics, movies and more. This poster was designed by Paul Foster which included a blank space at the lower right hand corner saved for the events location as in Muir Beach on this poster. This poster exists in three colors blue, goldenrod and white.and was used at four events which were Muir Beach Dec. 11, 1965 -- Big Beat Palo Alto Dec. 18 1965 -- Portland Oregon Dec 24, 1965 -- Fillmore Auditorium Jan. 8, 1966
The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane 1966 Trips Festival
The Warlocks "Caution" 1965
1966 Trips Festival Longshoreman's Hall San Francisco Handbill
An extremely rare San Francisco; Grateful Dead; LSD; Big Brother & The Holding Company collectible from the Psychedelic era. This is an original handbill advertising the legendary January, 1966 Trips Festival at the Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco. This was a 3 night event and was the first true psychedelic event in the bay area, The three nights featured different happenings, each intended to expand the consciousness of attendees and in some way simulate the psychedelic experience. The first night featured "America Needs Indians" and the "Open Theatre." The Second night had Ken Kesey leading The Acid Test "The Merry Pranksters & Their Psychedelic Symphony, Allen Ginsberg, The Grateful Dead and an un-billed Big Brother & The Holding Company. The third night included films by artist and filmmaker Bruce Conner, plus Big Brother and the Grateful Dead, The Loading Zone and others. The handbill measures 6.5" x 9.5" This was the first handbill (or poster) designed by Wes Wilson, and was printed by his own Contact Printing Co. The Dead played for a crowd of 10,000 people with thousands turned away every day.
Can You Pass the Acid Test ? Wes Wilson Handbill
Longshoremans Hall Trips Festival Acid Test Program 1966
Trips Festival Acid Test Program
Longshoremen's Hall Acid Test
Trips Festival 1966 Program
Acid Test Program
This is a rare 8 page "Acid Test" program from the January 21, 22, 23 1966 Trips Festival at the Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco. All three nights featured different events, each intended to expand the consciousness of attendees and in some way simulate the psychedelic experience.The Grateful Dead and Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin played all three nights and The Loading Zone performing both Friday and Saturday. Other entertainment included sound and light shows by Don Buchla, dance troupes like the Chinese New Years Lion Dancers, Drum and Bugle Corps, The Open Theater who were a experimental theater group in Berkeley. The troupe did shows that would now be called ‘Performance Art’, with light shows and music. and most importantly lets not forget the "Acid Test" Saturday at 10:00 PM "The Acid Test" were run by Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters.
This program and or festival guide listed all the happenings for the three days events, which was produced in association with Bill Graham, this marked Graham's entry into the "rock" business. The Acid Test was conducted in recent weeks at Santa Cruz, San Jose, Palo Alto, Portland, San Francisco and here and its snowballing fast, it will soon be International, if not cosmic. The mandala on the cover of the program was drawn by Bruce Conner which measures 7" square when closed
Grateful Dead / Ken Kesey Acid Test Sound City Studio 1966
Promo Poster 1966 Album
Sound City Recording Studio in the Bay Area hosted this "Acid Test" Trips Festival Mandatory January 29 1966 and recorded it as their first session. The cast included Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, Jerry Garcia and Wavy Gravy and includes readings, poetry, music and mayhem and documents their attempt to enact an acid test within the recording studio environment.
Sound City Studios released this album which was edited by Kesey, Mountain Girl and Jerry Garcia from several hours of lysergic recordings. The album sold very poorly and now original copies can now fetch as much as $1000. This is a very rare promotional poster for the 1966 album "The Acid Test." which utilizes the cover artwork and measuring 14" square.
Sound City Productions Acid Test Radio Station Promo Record
Sound City Productions Acid Test Radio Station Promo Record
The Gratefuld Dead Youth Opportunities Center Watts 1966
Youth Opportunities Center Watts Acid Test Concert Poster
In early February of 1966, the Dead followed the Merry Pranksters down to the Los Angeles area to continue and expand the "Acid Tests". The acid test itself was conducted at the Youth Opportunities Center in Watts, CA. The set list is unknown for this evening and it is said that Jerry did not play this evening apparently the Kool-Aid at this test was dosed by two individuals, concluding in some extremely high individuals. This is a possible reference to the fact that the Dead may have been too high to do any playing on this night.
The Prankers themselves were on their way to rendezvous with Ken Kesey who was then hiding in Mexico. In addition to the Watts "Acid Test" the band stuck around LA for approximately two months. They were hoping to make headway into a recording contract of some sort but nothing materialized.
The Grateful Dead Cinema Theatre Acid Test 1966
The Warlocks 1965
Newspaper Add Cinema Theatre Acid Test
The Grateful Dead played the "Acid Test" that was held at the Cinema Theatre on Feb. 25, 1966. This show would have been all but forgotten had it not been for this news print advertisement shown above. No details at all are known about this "Acid Test", other than those listed on the advertisement which include, The Stroboscopic Ballet Machine, Roys Audioptics, Del Close and His Phantasmagoria, Hugh Romney Might Hum and You. This is a newspaper ad advertisement , not a handbill or poster. So far, it is the only form of advertising that has turned up for this "Acid Test".
The Grateful Dead, Tiny Tim, Troupers Club 1966
Troupers Club Acid Test Concert Poster
This poster is the only known concert poster that was created by the legendary Stanley "Bear" Owsley. The historical significance of this piece cant be overstated. The poster was created to advertise a March 25, 1966 Grateful Dead concert that has been thoroughly documented to be one of the "Acid Tests" that was held in Los Angeles at the Troupers Club.
Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane & Quicksilver Trips Canada
Trips Festival Acid Test Concert Poster Canada 1966
This electric media Trips Festival poster is for this 3 day event that is considered to be the Canadian "Acid Test". The San Francisco bands that performed included the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Daily Flash This three day multimedia event was held at the PNE Garden Auditorium Vancouver Canada July 21, 22, 23, 1966. Drawing by Jack Wise, poster design by Michael Sawyer.
1966 Trips Festival Ticket Vancouver Canada
Grateful Dead, Loading Zone, Longshoreman's Hall Trips Poster
Grateful Dead, Loading Zone, Trips Concert Poster
This is a great psychedelic poster for a 3 day event at the Longshoreman's Hall where the legendary Trips Festival festival was three months prior. The Grateful Dead headline this concert sharing the stage with the Dead for the three nights was The Loading Zone, the poster also mentions "Celebrity Drop In's" & "Trips Regulars" however there is no mention of the Merry Pranskters and Ken Kesey was in Mexico evading the police. Poster art and design by Charles Tilghman.
The Grateful Dead, Mimi Farina "Whatever It Is" Festival 1966
San Francisco State College "Whatever It Is" Festival Acid Test
An extremely rare Grateful Dead "Acid Test" handbill for the "Whatever It Is" Festival held at at San Francisco State College September 30-Oct. 2, 1966. This is the ultra scarce handbill that is identical to the larger poster design. This event featured the "Acid Test" with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, with the Grateful Dead; The Final Solution, Wildflower, Congress of Wonders, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, The Committee, Mimi Farina, and much more. This handbill measures 7" x 10 3/8".
Grateful Dead San Francisco State College 1966 the X Handbill
San Francisco State College "Whatever It Is" Festival
This is an 8 1/2″ square handbill for “Whatever It Is” Which was a 3-day event at San Francisco State College in Sept/Oct 1966, featuring the Acid Test with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, along with The Grateful Dead, Mimi Farina, The Only Alternative, The Committee, Wildflower, The Final Solution, with a light shows provided by Bill Ham, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, Anonymous Artists of American, Demon Lover, the Straight Theater, and more. This handbill was designed and features handwriting by Stewart Brand, who was the organizer of the "Trips Festival" and "Whatever It Is" show. Collectors refer to this handbill as the X.
Grateful Dead Winterland Ballroom Acid Test Graduation Poster
The Grateful Dead California Hall
Acid Test Graduation
The "Acid Test" Graduation was planned for Halloween night in 1966 with the Grateful Dead on the stage. Things didn’t turn out as planned because Bill Graham, who was promoting the event, heard of a plan to dose everything at the event with LSD. A decision was made to cancel the event, at least at Winterland Ballroom, and the Garateful Dead wound up playing at the "Dance of Death" Costume Ball at the California Hall that night along with Quicksilver Messenger Service and Mimi Farina - Dance of Death poster shown at right
The commencement ceremony that was scheduled for the Winterland Ballroom was now being held at the dance company the Calliope's warehouse on Harriet Street in San Francisco. Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters were all in attendance. The Anonymous Artists of America provided the music, graduation diplomas were givin' out and all in all, the affair was very low key, not the orgy of drugs and sex that Graham had feared. The "Acid Test" Graduation poster measures 12" x 20".
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test Vinyl Record 1988
Stellar Records 1988
This Stellar Music Special Release "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" Is an obscure "fan-club" release featuring edited material from the San Francisco State Acid Test Sept/Oct 1966. This release also includes some snippets from a 1980 TV interview with Ken Kesey and Jerry Garcia. The album cover reads "From the United Fan Club Society, Goteborg, Sweden." with the front cover sporting Jerry Garcia doing his bunny ears finished in a red duotone where the back has a picture of Jerry Garcia and Mountain Girl and is finished in a blue duotone.
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test 1988
Carthay Studios Acid Test
The Acid Tests
Santa Cruz Nov 27 1965
San Jose Dec 4 1965
Muir Beach Dec. 11, 1965
Big Beat Palo Alto Dec. 18 1965
Portland Oregon Dec 24 1965
Fillmore Auditorium Jan. 8, 1966
Longshoreman's Hall Trips
Festival Jan 21 22 23 1966
Portland, Oregon Jan 13 1966
California Sound City Studios
Trips Festival Mandatory Jan 29
Unitarian Church Feb 5
Youth Opportunities Center
Watts Feb 12
Cinema Theater Feb 25 1966
Danish Center March 12 1966
Carthay Studios, Pico March 19 1966
Troupers Club March 25
Longshoreman's Hall Trips Festival April 22 23 24 1966
PNE Garden Auditorium Trips Festival July 29 30 31 1966 (canada)
"What's Happening" Festival Sept. 30, Oct. 1, 2, 1966
Oct 6 Possession of LSD Illegal in California
Love Pageant Rally
Graduation Calliope's warehouse Oct 31 1966 (Halloween)
Vancouver Trips Festival Richmond Arena May 27 1967 (canada)
Brown College, Rice University 16 March 1967 Houston, Texas
Despite the "graduation" concept of the final West Coast Acid Test, the actual final Acid Test of The Merry Pranksters was organized in Texas by Kesey's friend Larry McMurtry
Acid Test Graduation Footage
Jerry Garcia Acid Tests Interview
Tim Leary at Millbrook
I make no copyright claims on the video content or images of drawings, paintings, prints, or other two-dimensional works of art contained with-in this article, the copyright for these items are most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image, or the person who commissioned the work and or their heirs. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.
Keep It In the Groove -- Let Us Know You Were Here Too !!
Fox Music (author) on July 26, 2015:
Thanks For the Kind Words esja
Esmé from South Africa on July 25, 2015:
Man, you write interesting stuff!!