Grateful Dead & Miles Davis - 1970

BG-179  Grateful Dead and Miles Davis poster 1971 by David Singer. Concert poster from Fillmore West, May 6-9, 1971

David Singer


Grateful Dead and Miles Davis, 1970


First-printing lithograph, Condition Near Mint


Framed: 26 7/8" tall x 18 5/8" wide





Close-up of frame

Close-up of frame at angle


A human hand is X-Rayed holding a Chambered Nautilus which is superimposed over a nebula in intergalactic space which is quite appropriate for this Grateful Dead and Miles Davis poster by David Singer. The collage image of the shell was taken from a May 21, 1956 Life Magazine article entitled, “Symmetry Under the Shell”.



In March 1970, Miles Davis began to perform as the opener for various rock acts, allowing Columbia to market Bitches Brew to a wider audience. Although he was so offended by Clive Davis's suggestion to perform at the Fillmore East that he threatened to switch record labels, Davis eventually shared a bill with the Steve Miller Band and Neil Young on March 6 and 7. Biographer Paul Tingen wrote: "Miles's newcomer status in this environment" led to "mixed audience reactions, often having to play for dramatically reduced fees, and enduring the 'sell-out' accusations from the jazz world", as well as being "attacked by sections of the black press for supposedly genuflecting to white culture." The feeling was mutual: Miles thought most of the rock and rock musicians were terrible.



This is a pristine version of the original first printing poster advertising the only time Miles Davis and the Grateful Dead appeared on the same bill and it was a month on the heels of the release of Bitches Brew, the most popular Miles Davis album made with Chick Corea and other jazz all-stars. Here is Phil Lesh describing how this event came about,


“…we were faced with the unenviable task of following the great Miles Davis and his most recent band, a hot young aggregation that had just recorded the seminal classic Bitches Brew. As I listened, leaning over the amps with my jaw hanging agape, trying to comprehend the forces that Miles was unleashing onstage. I was thinking, ‘what’s the use?’ How can we possibly play after this? We should just go home and try to digest this unbelievable shit.”



Meanwhile, Miles Davis wrote in his autobipgraphy:


“The place was packed with these real spacey, high, white people, and where we first started playing, people were walking around and talking. But after a while, they all got quiet and really into the music. I played a little something like [from] Sketches of Spain and then went into the Bitches Brew shit, and that really blew them out. After that concert, every time I would play out there in San Francisco, a lot of young white people showed up at the gigs.”



The fact that Davis won over the crowd with such ease shows that good music will always prevail and he not only won over the San Francisco hippies in attendance but also started a very special relationship with Jerry Garcia who was blown away by his excellent display. “I think we all learned something,” Davis wrote: “Jerry Garcia loved jazz, and I found out that he loved my music and had been listening to it for a long time.

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