Images From Alton Kelley’s Pen

It’s hard to know exactly what Alton Kelley did all those years. It’s not that he wasn’t productive. He was wonderfully so. But nearly all of his most famous work – the Grateful Dead’s skeleton and roses logo, the Zig-Zag man, were done in collaboration with his long-time partner Stanley Mouse. Together with contemporaries Wes Wilson, Victor Moscoso, and Rick Griffin (and scores of nearly forgotten others) , they visually defined a way of being.

Which notes did Mick write? Which notes did Keith contribute? What about John and Paul? It’s same with Kelley and Mouse. Maybe they remember, except Al is gone.

Here are some Kelley-Mouse images from the summer of 1966. They’re from my personal collection. I’m putting them up in their yellowed glory, keystoning and all – just as I shot them.

I don’t know who owns the copyright to the images, but these photographs of the posters were created by me.


4 thoughts on “Images From Alton Kelley’s Pen

  1. If I remember correctly, the Howlin’ Wolf poster is for a show that never took place. For some reason, I forget why, it was canceled at the last minute. So the poster has a premium value among collectors for that reason. Or so I’m told.


  2. You’re right. After having printed 2,000 posters (FD-27) promoting the festivities, the Howlin’ Wolf/BBHC shows were cancelled and a couple of bands were brought in to play the Avalon that weekend. Can’t remember who they were at the moment.

    This is the only FD poster from ’66 that was never reprinted, at least not legitimately.

    Each of the posters you put up are quite rare and valuable, if they are first printings. (Two weeks ago, a first print of FD-26 – Mouse and Kelley’s iconic “Skeleton and Roses” – sold at auction for $9,100 and a copy of FD-7 went for $9,800.)

    I’m sure you keep your poster stash in a nice, safe place in the Pondering Pigsty.


  3. The posters are carefully stored in a climate-controlled fallout shelter in back of the Sty. I’ve rigged it with security alarms, explosives, and a few other items of my own invention. Actually, that fall-out shelter is a worth a few pennies too. It’s the same one where Bob Dylan had his 115th dream.


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