John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborated on dozens of beloved songs during their time together in the Beatles. But their joint ventures into the world of visual art were exceedingly rare, which prompted an anonymous collector to pony up $175,000 recently for a poster Lennon and McCartney created to help promote the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.
The “Peace to Monterey” poster was sold by Rockaway Records, the used-record shop in Silver Lake that specializes in Beatles recordings, memorabilia and other collectibles.
McCartney was a member of the governing board for Monterey Pop, which helped kick off the era of large-scale rock festivals. It is known for career-establishing performances by relative newcomers Jimi Hendrix — an artist McCartney knew about and urged festival organizers to book — and Janis Joplin along with the Mamas and the Papas, Jefferson Airplane and numerous other acts.
Framed by poolside palms, Mick Jagger checks out Bob Dylan’s 1965 album “Bringing It All Back Home.”(The Bob Bonis Archive)
Beatles publicist Derek Taylor was assisting in the promotion of Monterey Pop and helped facilitate the contribution from the Beatles, who had been invited to perform at the show. But the group had stopped touring just six months before being asked in February 1967 to come up with something to help generate excitement for the new festival.
Lennon and McCartney’s artwork was reprinted in the official program for Monterey Pop — on page 16.
The original 7 3/4-inch by 12 3/4-inch psychedelic-inspired color poster remained with art director Tom Wilkes, who created Monterey Pop’s official concert program. Wilkes died in 2009 and his daughter arranged for Rockaway to conduct the sale.
Because the quartet was working on the “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” album, which would be released in June 1967, they wrote that title on the poster and sketched the words “Beatles [heart symbol with an arrow through it] you.”
“It’s our biggest sale ever, so we’re pretty excited,” said Rockaway Records co-founder Wayne Johnson. “Our previous record was $80,000 for a pristine, sealed Beatles stereo ‘Butcher cover’ that belonged to Alan Livingston, president of Capitol Records.”
That refers to the planned cover for the 1966 U.S. “‘Yesterday’ ... And Today” album, which was hastily removed from circulation and replaced with a more benign photo of the Beatles after American record merchants complained that the original image was too grisly to stock.
Here is Rockaway Records’ full description of the poster and its history.