Rick Griffin Album Cover Art
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
Quicksilver Messenger Service "Quicksilver " 1968
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
Grateful Dead "Aoxomoxoa" 1969
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
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
Robert Hunter "Tales Of the Last Rum Runners" 1974
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" 1974
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
The Grateful Dead "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been" 1977
Corky Carroll "Skateboard Bill" 1977
Hosanna "Hosanna" 1979
Grateful Dead "Reckoning" 1981
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
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
The Grateful Dead "Dylan and The Dead" 1989
Dylan & the Dead "The Memphis Blues Again" 1987
Sea Hags "Sea Hags" 1989
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 "Dear Mr. Fantasy" 1989
The Grateful Dead "I Will Take You Home" 1989
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
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
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
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.
Documentary-- The Art of Rock
Wave Watch 1986 w/ Rick Griffin
Jann Wenner Accepts Award Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
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