Early Summer of Love posters and a Vancouver exit

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      We are back in Vancouver again. Every time we come to Vancouver, we never stay for more than a month. This time, we hope to find a permanent home.

      We left Vancouver 44 years ago to move to Vancouver Island. When I was discharged from B.C. Corrections in April 1969—after being sentenced to jail time for marijuana possession—I was placed on parole for the next nine months. It was a scary time for me, and it has taken me all this time to be open about that time in my life.

      Our first home after my release was an apartment in New Westminster. At the time, I thought it was a long way from Vancouver and all the action. It was my parole officer that strongly recommended that we should not reside in Vancouver, and he still thought that even New Westminster was not far enough away.

      This was a time of many great challenges. After serving eight months and then being placed into a new environment, within a month I got married and we had our first baby. My father-in-law was willing to give me a job; having a job was a condition of my parole. The job was also sorely needed because I had a new family to support.

      The next couple of years were full of assorted trials and tribulations, which finally ended with our move to Vancouver Island. Now here we are back in Vancouver, 44 years later, and we are grandparents readying ourselves for the next chapter.

      Poster conceived on a napkin

      Meanwhile, as the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love is upon us, here are two of my concert posters that started the summer of love. The poster at the top of this article was conceived on a napkin in a coffee shop at Fourth and Arbutus that is still operating to this day. Bob Masse and I had met there and I told him I had an idea for a poster. I was quite stoned, and I wasn’t too sure about Bob. My idea was to have an image of an old man with an exploding face. I thought it would be extra cool.

      I watched Bob draw my concept right there on the napkin. It was amazing. Then he went home and created a masterpiece. It would be published many years later in a book of posters called The Art of Rock (by Paul Grushkin) as a excellent example of what is now known as psychedelic art.

      The headliner for that concert was the Steve Miller Band. I had met Steve in San Francisco, and I didn’t know where he was from; he insisted that he be billed as being from Chicago. He thought that would be a better draw than saying he was from San Francisco. The Collectors were from Vancouver and were originally called the Classics, a local band performing on the high-school circuit. They were, at the time, the house band for a strip club called the Torch. (And would later change their name to Chilliwack.)

      The second poster (directly above) was created in San Francisco and brought up to Vancouver by “Country” Joe McDonald. When I greeted him and his band at the airport, Joe handed me a package and told me that it was time I be recognized. He knew that Bill Graham was my mentor and that I considered myself fortunate to have met such a great impresario, and that I tried to follow Bill’s example in how he put shows together.

      I opened the box and saw it was filled with posters that Joe, on his own, had had designed for his week of shows in Vancouver. In the top left corner was my name. I was blown away. Joe said that if Graham could put his name on posters, then so could I.

      Concert promoter and entrepreneur Jerry Kruz is the author of The Afterthought: West Coast Rock Posters and Recollections From the ’60s (Rocky Mountain Books, 2014).

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