Though it’s only February, this year has already been a rough one for those of us who love rock posters. In January, of course, we lost Wes Wilson. Today, we learned that earlier this month, Bonnie MacLean passed at the age of 80.
As many have noted, MacLean was a rare woman in the boy’s club that was, and largely still is, the rock-poster world. But MacLean’s place in rock-poster history is about more than her gender. That’s because it was a Bonnie MacLean poster, BG-66, that kicked off Bill Graham’s long and productive relationship with Levon Mosgofian and Tea Lautrec Litho.
Technically, we have to say that the first poster Mosgofian printed for Graham occurred when Mosgofian was still employed at a traditional printing firm called Neal, Stratford & Kerr, which was struggling in 1967. In fact, by the Summer of Love, the company had already closed its stationery division as part of its preparation for bankruptcy. It was at this unpropitious moment that Graham hired Neal, Stratford & Kerr to print a poster, designed by MacLean, for a pair of shows on Friday June 2 and Saturday June 3 at the Fillmore Auditorium. Headliners were the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, a folk-rock outfit from L.A. called the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, and a group called The Sparrow, which was led by John Kay and reorganized as Steppenwolf later that year. Dimensions were 14 by 23 inches, a bit taller than many Fillmore posters from this period.
MacLean’s central image featured the head and upper torso of a woman, whose gaze was serious and whose skin was the color of daffodils. Surrounding this psychedelic siren (in MacLean’s hands, the women in her rock posters were always more than mere objects for men to admire) was a loose composition of blue-and-green shapes and swirls. As rock posters of this era went, certainly compared to some of Wes Wilson’s work, the last of which, BG-62, had been delivered just the month before, the lettering was remarkably legible. A few days later, June 11, 1967, MacLean and Graham would marry.
Thank you for your work and presence, Bonnie. You will be sorely missed.