February - Acid Test Graduation Diploma 1966 [ Back to Gallery ]
 
 
While not a vintage concert poster, this original Acid Test Graduation Diploma is a significant part of psychedelic history. It is more than extremely rare, as I have only ran into two others during all my years of years of collecting, one with a name on it, the other a blank Diploma; this would be the second blank Diploma to have surfaced.

As many of you may already know, these Diplomas were the closing chapter of Acid Test History, handed out on October 31, 1966 at the conclusion of the Acid Test Graduation. The Diplomas were distributed by none other than Neal Cassady - the character right out of Jack Kerouac's famous novel "On the Road". It seems only appropriate Cassady should be the one handing out the Diplomas to participants as he certainly portrayed the idealistic lifestyle of what it meant to be a Graduate from these rather crazy and famous Acid Test events.

What is interesting about both the Acid Test Graduation Posters and the Acid Test Diplomas is why so few actually exist. Obviously a significant number of posters and most likely diplomas were printed for the event. If you research pictures of the actual event, you will find the posters taped all around the stage and walls of the facility.

Perhaps an explanation is the event was moved from its scheduled location as printed on the posters from Winterland shortly before the event (not too uncommon for Acid Test Events) to a rather small loft in the City. Also, one of the main "draws" for the event, The Grateful Dead, ended up switching to play for "The Dance of Death" event which replaced the Acid Test Graduation because it was rumored lots of LSD would be distributed and most likely a large police bust would occur.

It is a bit of an irony that the only two Acid Tests the Grateful Dead did not play at were the FIRST and LAST Acid Tests. The first is easily explained as it was an unorganized spur of the moment whim dreamed up by Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, but the LAST is somewhat a disappointment as The Grateful Dead, now a very popular band in the Bay Area, abandoned the final chapter of the Acid Tests (which really gave them their start) to play at the larger venue, Winterland's Dance of Death.

So in the end, the event drew a small crowd and by the time the Diplomas were finally handed out according to Tom Wolfe's book, The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test, the crowd was down to fifty or less. How many were handed out is a mystery, but one thing for sure, not many have survived and this Original Acid Test Diploma represents a very rare chapter in psychedelic history!
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