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Pushing the limits and creating new types of expressions, Kelley gave the music community an eruption of colors, designs, themes which symbolized the youth movement’s fresh breath of optimism and enthusiasm. The music of his generation catered to the hopeful minds and ears of the “hippies,” but Kelley’s artwork gave a face and imagery to the counter-culture movement.
Kelley and his life-long collaborator Stanley Mouse made a stamp on the scene for their posters of “San Francisco style” dance-concerts at the Fillmore Auditorium, Winterland Arena, Fillmore West, Avalon Ballroom and a many more San Francisco area theaters and arenas. With credits to LP album artwork including the Beatles, the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Journey, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia, they may best known for their co-creation of the skull and roses icon used by the Grateful Dead.
In their words, they worked in a style “riffing off each other''s giggle.” They combined vivacious colors with French-poster making joi de vivre enthusiasm, but incorporated their own technique that dazzled and captivated millions. Not only did their art shift music marketing, but they pioneered album artwork and musician/group identification.
When Kelley (a native of Maine) met Mouse (a native of Detroit, MI) in San Francisco''s Haight-Ashbury district in late 1965, they instantly recognized they were kindred spirits in what Mouse describes as "one of the juiciest scenes of all time.” Their concert posters, commissioned by Fillmore promoter Bill Graham and Graham''s rival, the Avalon''s Family Dog collective, were eagerly snapped up by bands and fans alike.
He is survived by the true love of his life, Marguerite Trousdale Kelley. He also leaves his mother Annie, sister Kathy, and beloved children Patty, Yossarian, and China, and beautiful grandchildren Life and Lacoda.
To view some of Kelley’s work, visit here