January - Two Original Big Beat Acid Test Posters! [ Back to Gallery ]
We start off the year with not one, but two extremely rare vintage concert posters –original Acid Test Posters from The Big Beat located in Palo Alto!

Now for those who are not familiar with the early psychedelic scene, The Acid Tests were ground zero of the psychedelic movement that started in the San Francisco Bay area in late 1965. Ken Kesey and his gang of Merry Pranksters in addition to Allan Ginsberg, Neil Cassidy (the main real life character from that famous Jack Kerouac novel “On the Road”) and none other than The Grateful Dead as the house band were the ones putting on these early shows. Ken Kesey and The Merry Pranksters were the Producers of the events and later the cast of characters changed as the Acid Tests moved down to Los Angeles with The Merry Pranksters and Grateful Dead becoming the Producers of The Acid Tests.

The provenance of these posters is very unique and just goes to show there are still those undiscovered rarities that unexpectedly surface from those that attended or directly tied to the events. The original owner of these posters in his later life became somewhat of a recluse and/or hoarder, but cherished the items he had collected and saved from the soundtrack of his life when he lived in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The owner of these posters owned a record store in Berkeley in the 60’s and attended many of the most important early psychedelic events before closing his store and moving to Eureka where he raised his family and found a much slower less stressful lifestyle. His main interest was in collecting records and by the time he passed away in 2012, he had acquired over 50,000 record albums, many extremely rare in almost every musical classification.

In addition to his vast record collection were some of the rarest and early psychedelic posters known to exist obtained at the events or kept from posters used to advertise the events displayed in his record store in Berkely. Those early events and related posters included pre-numbered Family Dog, Trips Festival and early Bill Graham productions, but the real “gems” in his collections were these two Goldenrod Acid Test Posters with venues from the Big Beat in Palo Alto.

Prior to this find, only 4 Hartwig/Foster Acid Test posters with authenticated venues have been known to exist – 3 from the Fillmore Acid Test, 1 from the Big Beat Acid Test. There is however a possible 5th venue Acid Test Poster from Muir Beach that came out of Ken Kesey’s house, however several things point to the venue being added at a later date. What’s most interesting about these two posters is the uniqueness of the venues – one is hand written in along with the full address – similar to other known Acid Test posters with authenticated venues, but one of the posters used the business card from the Big Beat stapled in the venue space.

What’s a bit funny and also ironic is the one with the business card has listed in the upper right hand corner “Beer Dancing Food” with Beer and Food crossed out, leaving only Dancing to be read. I’m sure the owners of the Big Beat were very concerned about their establishment serving Beer to underage attendees thinking the event was a teen dance or hop, much like the late 50’s as implied by the display of two spinning records from a jukebox shown on the Big Beat business card on the left hand side. What they obviously didn’t know, was the refreshments of “Kool Aid” being served contained LSD which was much more mind altering than any amount of beer someone could have drank that evening! The good news however from accounts of people that attended the Big Beat Acid Test was a good and fun time was had by all and it likely turned out to be the most innocent or naive of the Acid Tests held in the Bay Area.

So, we start out the year with a really big historical find of two previously unknown Acid Test posters from The Big Beat in Palo Alto and quite frankly - Vintage Concert Posters and life just doesn’t get much better than this!
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