Drawing Rock Music
June 2, 2008 4:09 PM   Subscribe

Legendary artist Alton Kelley created a graphic style that rocked the world beginning in the psychedelic sixties. His concert posters, logo designs, LP album covers, and fine art have forevermore defined that time. Kelley passed away peacefully at home on Sunday, June 1, 2008 of complications from a long illness.
posted by terrapin (18 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It's been a lousy day for rock and roll.

posted by The Card Cheat at 4:16 PM on June 2, 2008

A great artist/illustrator, someone who really taught me a lot about what I like in art (I didn't know him but I obsessed on his work).

posted by doctor_negative at 4:30 PM on June 2, 2008

Shit. This makes me incredibly sad. I've enjoyed his and Mouse's work since I was old enough to recognize it for what it is. As Joel Selvin (senior pop music critic for the SF Chronicle) said in one of the above links, Kelley and Mouse "drew the first face on rock music."

Thank you, Alton, for so many great album covers and concert posters. Your art work has been some of the only art work I've ever eaten, albeit one or two tiny, perforated squares paper at a time.

posted by mosk at 4:36 PM on June 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

posted by Mblue at 4:37 PM on June 2, 2008

Coincidentally, Bo Diddly just died as well.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 4:38 PM on June 2, 2008

posted by ZachsMind at 4:41 PM on June 2, 2008

Lately, I've been morbidly curious about what people end up dying of. Any indications of what sent Alton on his way?
posted by Dave Faris at 5:01 PM on June 2, 2008

posted by hal9k at 5:21 PM on June 2, 2008


thanks for making beautiful pieces of paper.
posted by schyler523 at 5:27 PM on June 2, 2008

posted by mmahaffie at 7:00 PM on June 2, 2008

posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:54 PM on June 2, 2008

Apparently, his family has 20-30k in unpaid hospital bills.
posted by muckster at 10:09 PM on June 2, 2008

posted by sveskemus at 6:01 AM on June 3, 2008

posted by Smart Dalek at 7:02 AM on June 3, 2008


the very essence of Psychedelicia. captured on paper. Draw on, Kelly!

(what's up with Mouse these days?)
posted by djrock3k at 7:28 AM on June 3, 2008

I asked Alton to do the lettering on the cover of my 1993 book with David Shenk, Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads. He was a very sweet guy, very generous and witty, and I was amused when he showed me his secret gallery of posters he made to work off his hostility over various contractual issues that had come up in dealing with the Grateful Dead machine over the years. (One of them said, in the psychedelic lettering that he made famous, DREADFUL GREED: WALL STREET TOUR.) I was honored to have his lettering on our book, I was happy to give him the work, and I am thankful for his generosity and humor that day. RIP, Alton.
posted by digaman at 7:32 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

muckster, thanks for that link. I have verified the validity of that account with a friend of the family. Please contribute.
posted by digaman at 9:55 AM on June 3, 2008

Thanks for checking that out, digaman.
posted by terrapin at 11:56 AM on June 3, 2008

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