Artist and illustrator Wes Wilson, who designed iconic psychedelic concert posters for The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and more, died on January 24 at his home in Leanne, MO. He was 82. Wilson's trippy lettering style was as distinctive as it was hard to read. From the NY Times:
An early poster that solidified Mr. Wilson’s emerging style was for a show at the Fillmore in July 1966 featuring the Association, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Grass Roots and Sopwith Camel. The names of the groups appeared in bright red-orange against a green background, the lettering suggesting flames. He used a similar look for the cover of Paul Grushkin’s book “The Art of Rock: Posters From Presley to Punk” (1987), except this time the flaming lettering constituted the hair of a blue-colored figure.
Mr. Wilson’s posters — collectors’ items today — documented the astonishing array of groups that played the two San Francisco halls as the psychedelic ’60s took hold: Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead shared a bill at the Fillmore in August 1966, Country Joe and the Fish and Buffalo Springfield teamed up there that November, and there were dozens more.
“In those days, for $2, you could see some amazing stuff,” Mr. Wilson recalled in a 2006 interview with The News-Leader of Springfield, Mo., near the farm he moved to in 1976.
It was said that Mr. Wilson’s disorienting posters were easily read by anyone tripping on LSD. He himself, he said, never got as wild as many of the concertgoers who were the posters’ target.
“I was far enough out to be an artist,” he told The News-Leader, “but not far enough out to go over the edge.”
Rest in peace, Wes. You can watch the Wes Wilson segment of Paper, Ink and Rock and Roll - A History of Posters below.