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Rick Griffin Album Cover Art

Updated on January 25, 2016
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The Art of Rick Griffin

Graphic Artist Rick Griffin was one of the leading designers of psychedelic posters in the 1960s. Griffin’s rare breed of psychedelic art became a symbol for the counterculture. Griffin was closely identified with the Grateful Dead having designed some of their best known posters and record jackets. Prior to the psychedelic period Rick was a contributor to the underground comix movement, his work appeared regularly in Snatch and Zap Comix

Griffin was also known within the surfing subculture which included both film posters and the comic strip that he created while on staff with Surfer Magazine titled Murphy.

Rick Griffin has created iconic work across three sub-cultures, surf, underground comics and psychedelic poster art and has a vast portfolio but for the purposes of this HubPage we will concentrating on the album art created for various bands spanning his career.

West Coast Love-In ‎1967

Various Artists "West Coast Love-In" ‎Vault Records LP-113 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1967) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Various Artists "West Coast Love-In" ‎Vault Records LP-113 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1967) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Quicksilver Messenger Service "Quicksilver " 1968

Quicksilver Messenger Service "Quicksilver Messenger Service" EMI / Capitol Records ST 2904 12" LP Vinyl Record, UK	Pressing (1968) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Quicksilver Messenger Service "Quicksilver Messenger Service" EMI / Capitol Records ST 2904 12" LP Vinyl Record, UK Pressing (1968) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Quicksiver Messenger Service "Pride of Man" 1968

Did You Know ??

Griffin did work for the Grateful Dead, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors, as well as for Rolling Stone magazine, designing their original logo.

Underground weekly papers and small-scale magazines were the primary news media of '60s counterculture. Rolling Stone is arguably the most culturally significant and enduring journal of the times. The first art director for Rolling Stone, Robert Kingsbury, was actually a sculptor, not a designer so psychedelic artist Rick Griffin was hired to design the masthead logo. Griffin sent in a tight pencil sketch for approval, and not knowing better, they printed the pencil sketch, which ran as the masthead for several years. The initial issues were black-and-white with a second spot color added soon after; it wasn’t until the 1974 July 4th cover featuring The Carpenters that full color was introduced.

The Underground All-Stars ‎"Extremely Heavy!" 1968

The Underground All-Stars ‎"Extremely Heavy!" DOT Records ‎DLP 25964 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1968) Artistic Lettering by Rick Griffin
The Underground All-Stars ‎"Extremely Heavy!" DOT Records ‎DLP 25964 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1968) Artistic Lettering by Rick Griffin | Source

Grateful Dead "Aoxomoxoa" 1969

Grateful Dead "Aoxomoxoa" Warner Bros. Seven Arts Records WS 1790 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1969) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Grateful Dead "Aoxomoxoa" Warner Bros. Seven Arts Records WS 1790 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1969) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Grateful Dead "Aoxomoxoa" 12" Vinyl Records

Did You Know ??

The title of the album is a palindrome created by cover artist Rick Griffin and lyricist Robert Hunter. The title is pronounced "ox-oh-mox-oh-ah".

The words "Grateful Dead" on the front of the album, written in large, flowing capital letters, are an ambigram that can also be read "we ate the acid". The artwork around the bottom edge of the album cover depicts several phallic representations.

Courtney Love then known as Michelle Love Harrison was one of the people photographed on the back cover of the 1969 Grateful Dead album “Aoxomoxoa“. Love's estranged father Hank Harrison was an “amateur acid maker” and briefly served as the road manager for The Dead in the early days. David Gans, confirmed the rumor that Love was in the photo. Love is pictured wearing a shawl sitting directly in front of Ace Weir and to the right of Pigpen

Grateful Dead "Wake Of the Flood" 1973

Grateful Dead "Wake Of the Flood" Grateful Dead Records GD-01 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1973) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Grateful Dead "Wake Of the Flood" Grateful Dead Records GD-01 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1973) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

"Wake Of the Food" LTD Edition Vinyl Record

Source

Did You Know ??

"Wake of the Flood" was the first album released on the band's own label, Grateful Dead Records, after fulfilling their nine album contract with Warner Bros. Records.

This was the Deads' first full length album since 1970's "American Beauty".

"Wake Of the Flood" was also the first studio album without Ron "Pigpen" McKernan, who had recently died which makes this Keith Godchaux's first album as the new piano player.

The art work for the album cover and for this stunning record store promo poster were supplied by graphic artist Rick Griffin The Griffin "Raven" art work was also carried through to the record labels.

The Grateful Dead "Wake Of the Flood" 1973

The Grateful Dead "Wake Of the Flood" Grateful Dead Records  In Store Promotional Display (1973) Promo Poster Art by Rick Griffin
The Grateful Dead "Wake Of the Flood" Grateful Dead Records In Store Promotional Display (1973) Promo Poster Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Robert Hunter "Tales Of the Last Rum Runners" 1974

Robert Hunter "Tales Of the Great Rum Runners" Round Records RX 101 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1974) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Robert Hunter "Tales Of the Great Rum Runners" Round Records RX 101 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1974) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Did You Know ??

Although at the vanguard of the psychedelic art movement Rick Griffin still produced comic art, true to his roots. His work can be found in Zap, Snatch and Tales From The Tube.

Along with Alton Kelley, Stanley "Mouse" Miller, Victor Moscoso and Wes Wilson, Rick became known as one of the "Big Five" of psychedelia. In 1967 they founded the Berkeley-Bonaparte distribution agency to produce and sell psychedelic poster art.

Rick had become known for his graphic lettering as you can see and on several album covers that is his only involvement such as..., The Eagles "On the Border" -- Neil Young "On the Beach" -- The Grateful Dead "Steal Your Face" -- among others.

Man "Slow Motion" 1974

Man "Slow Motion" Color Proof (1974) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Man "Slow Motion" Color Proof (1974) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Man "Slow Motion" 1974

Man "Slow Motion" United Artists Records UA-LA345-G 12" LP Vinyl, US Pressing (1974) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Man "Slow Motion" United Artists Records UA-LA345-G 12" LP Vinyl, US Pressing (1974) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Alfred E. Newman

Rick Griffin was commissioned to do the album cover of Man's 1974 album "Slow Motion". Griffin was ask to depict slow motion. Using the pop icon Alfred E. Newman as if was a cover of Mad Magazine holding a fresh caught fish, with water caught in mid air, used the bands name in the same manner as the Mad magazine mast and drew an intricate scene within the border. The united artist returned with the art stating legal rejected due to copyright issue with Mad Magazine. Later it was found that a call was made by a the bands management who claims Mad magazine would not give permission for its use would not peruse a lawsuit if it was used. The result was a heavily cropped image of the former cover art which no longer has has the detailed border work, they even went as far as to changing which tooth is missing in the grin of the work.


Sail On Sailor "Mustard Seed Faith" 1975

Sail On Sailor "Mustard Seed Faith" Maranatha! Music 12" LP vinyl record, US Pressing (1975) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Sail On Sailor "Mustard Seed Faith" Maranatha! Music 12" LP vinyl record, US Pressing (1975) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

The Grateful Dead "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been" 1977

The Grateful Dead "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been: The Best Of the Grateful Dead Warner Bros Records 2W 3091US1977 2LP Vinyl Record Set, US Pressing (1977) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
The Grateful Dead "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been: The Best Of the Grateful Dead Warner Bros Records 2W 3091US1977 2LP Vinyl Record Set, US Pressing (1977) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Corky Carroll "Skateboard Bill" 1977

Corky Carroll "Skateboard Bill" Heavy Records JT-1001 7" Blue Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1977) Picture Sleeve Art by Rick Griffin
Corky Carroll "Skateboard Bill" Heavy Records JT-1001 7" Blue Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1977) Picture Sleeve Art by Rick Griffin

Hosanna "Hosanna" 1979

Hosanna "Hosanna" Marantha Records 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1979) Album Cover Art Rick Griffin
Hosanna "Hosanna" Marantha Records 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1979) Album Cover Art Rick Griffin | Source

Grateful Dead "Reckoning" 1981

Grateful Dead "Reckoning" Arista Records A2L 8604 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1981) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Grateful Dead "Reckoning" Arista Records A2L 8604 12" LP Vinyl Record, US Pressing (1981) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

"Reckoning" LTD Vinyl Record

"Dead Set" LTD Vinyl Record

Acoustic Set / Electric Set

The early concept of "Reckoning" was a double live album with the first LP being acoustic and the second being electric but when the band sat down in the studio with the tapes they felt they had to much good material to choose from with the limited time constraints of a standard album. With the thought that most of the Deads' live electric tracks run more than eight minutes which would confines the electric album to four tracks so the Dead in their infinite wisdom decided to go with 2 Double albums. The pair of 2-LP sets were released in 1981 on Arista Records with the acoustic set being "Reckoning A2L 8604" and live electric set being "Dead Set AL9-8112". The albums tracks were recorded at various locations for the 1980 tour. The album cover art for "Reckoning" was done by none other than Rick Griffin and for the "Dead Set" the artist was Dennis Larkins.

The Grateful Dead "The Race Is On" 1980

Chris Darrow & Max Buda "Eye Of The Storm" 1981

Chris Darrow & Max Buda "Eye Of The Storm" Takoma ‎TAK 7092 12" LP Vinyl Record US Pressing (1981) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Chris Darrow & Max Buda "Eye Of The Storm" Takoma ‎TAK 7092 12" LP Vinyl Record US Pressing (1981) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

This 1981 "Eye Of the Storm" is the collabration of Chris Darrow & Max Buda which was an all-instrumental rock and roll record with a definite water overtone.

Kerry Livgren "Time Line" 1984

Kerry Livgren "Time Line" Myrrh Records MYR R 1205 12' LP Vinyl Record, UK Pressing (1984) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Kerry Livgren "Time Line" Myrrh Records MYR R 1205 12' LP Vinyl Record, UK Pressing (1984) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

The Grateful Dead "Dylan and The Dead" 1989

The Grateful Dead "Dylan and The Dead" Columbia Records C 45056 12" LP Vinyl Record, US pressing (1989) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
The Grateful Dead "Dylan and The Dead" Columbia Records C 45056 12" LP Vinyl Record, US pressing (1989) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Dylan & the Dead "The Memphis Blues Again" 1987

Sea Hags "Sea Hags" 1989

Sea Hags "Sea Hags" Chrysalis FV 41665 12" LP Vinyl Record US Pressing (1989) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Sea Hags "Sea Hags" Chrysalis FV 41665 12" LP Vinyl Record US Pressing (1989) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

Sea Hags Vinyl Record

Did You Know ??

Metallica's Kirk Hammett co-produced the recording of their first demo, and such was its promise that after signing with Chrysalis Records, production on their self-titled 1989 debut was charged to Guns N' Roses engineer Mike Clink.

Sea Hags' career redefined the art of self-destruction, and the band's short run was over almost before it began. The band shortly decayed and disbanded fueled by alcohol and heroin addictionsof its members, with the final chapter ending in death.

The Grateful Dead "Without A Net" 1990

The Grateful Dead "Without A Net" Arista Records AL3-8634 3 12" :P Vinyl Record Set, US Pressing (1990) Album Cover  Art by Rick Griffin
The Grateful Dead "Without A Net" Arista Records AL3-8634 3 12" :P Vinyl Record Set, US Pressing (1990) Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

The Grateful Dead "Dear Mr. Fantasy" 1989

The Grateful Dead "I Will Take You Home" 1989

Grateful Dead "Without A Net"

Without A Net

Brent Mydland died of an overdose shortly after completing the Grateful Dead's 1990 summer tour. This 90 summer tour was where the material came from for this album "Without A Net"

Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter said this of Mydland:

The fourth major Grateful Dead era ends with the passing of Brent Mydland. The first concluded with Pigpen; the second with the departure of Keith and Donna. The third began when Brent joined and began learning the ropes and culminated with Garcia's physical collapse. The fourth era started with an unexpectedly successful comeback, fully integrating Brent's vocal and keyboard virtuosity. He improved the blend, adding, embellishing and sometimes leading the music.

Without distorting the character of what was uniquely Grateful Dead, the old songs came magically into tune and richly harmonized while new songs of Brent's own composition added diversity to the band's repertoire. The shows reached a performance peak which now passes into Deadhead history. From here on, the sound of the Grateful Dead will be different. The challenge or reconfiguration, resculpting and refining will be a mighty one. What else should be said of Brent? He rode hard, he drank hard, he played with the Dead. He also played with death and lost. He will be conspicuous in his absence.

This Sadly would be Rick Griffins last commissioned work for the Grateful Dead before his death from a motor cycle accident in 1991.

1990 Record Store Promo Poster Rick Griffin Art

The Grateful Dead 1990 German Record Store Promo / Concert Poster w/ Rick Griffin Art
The Grateful Dead 1990 German Record Store Promo / Concert Poster w/ Rick Griffin Art | Source

Frankfort Germany Promo Poster

Grateful Dead - Frankfort Germany Concert Poster / Record Store Promo Poster (1990). A Rick Griffin circus-themed poster design for the "Without a Net" album and tour framed in a big blue border this German concert poster advertises ticket info at the bottom .., in German, of course. and also promotes the CD and Album for Sale for Retail Stores. A great large-size 22.25" x 33" poster.

The Cult "Best Of Rare Cult" 2000

The Cult "Best Of Rare Cult" Beggars Banquet US BBL 2029 CD Album US Pressing (2000) CD Album Cover Art Rick Griffin
The Cult "Best Of Rare Cult" Beggars Banquet US BBL 2029 CD Album US Pressing (2000) CD Album Cover Art Rick Griffin | Source

1980s Rick's work included a logo and cover art for English rockers The Cult, notably "Soldier Blue", designed in '87 for an aborted single release and not to see the light of day until it was used as a template for "Rare Cult" thirteen years later. Still as striking as ever

Help Yourself "5" 2004

Help Yourself "5" HUX Records HUX 054 CD Album, UK Pressing (2004) CD Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin
Help Yourself "5" HUX Records HUX 054 CD Album, UK Pressing (2004) CD Album Cover Art by Rick Griffin | Source

The band Help Yourself formed in London in 1969, who went on to released four albums which drew heavily on the San Francisco sound like Buffalo Springfield and Quicksilver Messenger Service. In 1973 the band started recording their fifth album, unfortunately the band split up later that year and the album was never completed. Malcolm Morley joined 'Man', while the rest of the band teamed up with 'Deke Leonard's Iceberg'. In the winter of 2002, the original Help Yourself band members, augmented by drummer Kevin Spacey, gathered once more to finally complete their fifth album. Appropriately titled '5' the cover sports an original illustration by the legendary Rick Griffin and the booklet includes a liner note from Malcolm Morley.

P.S.

Documentary-- The Art of Rock

Wave Watch 1986 w/ Rick Griffin

Jann Wenner Accepts Award Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Copyright Disclaimer

I make no copyright claims on the video content or images of drawings, paintings, prints, or other two-dimensional works of art contained with-in this article, the copyright for these items are most likely owned by either the artist who produced the image, or the person who commissioned the work and or their heirs. Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing.

Keep It In the Groove -- Let Us Know You Were Here Too !!

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    • mckbirdbks profile image

      mckbirdbks 2 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Sounds like Rick Griffin was the vangaurd of this genre. I enjoyed reading about his career. I am shocked at the amount of effort that you put into these presentations, but more so at the response. I snet this link over to Twitter to see if that does any good.

      Maybe it is the category you have these posted under.

    • Fox Music profile image
      Author

      Fox Music 2 years ago

      Yes mckbirdbks Rick Griffin Was One Of the Big Five San Francisco Psychedelic Artist and Has Created Many Iconic Images. -- Thanks for the Kind Words .., Keep It In the Groove !!

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 2 years ago from sunny Florida

      Awesome talent of Rick Griffin was shared so well here.

      What a great job you have done sharing him with us.

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps Voted up++++

    • Fox Music profile image
      Author

      Fox Music 2 years ago

      Your Right pstraubie48 Rick Griffin Was a Very Gifted Artist Who Was A Pioneer of Psycehedlic Art and All Its Glory. -- Keep It In the Groove !!

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