Recovering The Family Dog Panel Van

Charlatans, with Big Brother and the Holding Company, including Janis Joplin.

In February 1966, Chet Helms formally founded Family Dog Productions to begin promoting concerts at The Fillmore Auditorium, alternating weekends with another young promoter, Bill Graham. Helms was instrumental in introducing Bill Graham to the nascent music scene in the Haight Asbury District of S.F. Helms was nurturing when Graham caught wind of the excitement Helms was creating and promoting. As the concerts became more popular, inevitable “conflicts” arose between the two promoters.

Chet’s style was “easy-going, mellow, soft-tempered until pushed.” Graham’s style was more driven. Within a few months, Helms secured the permits necessary to host events at the Avalon Ballroom, an old dancehall at 1268 Sutter Street, on the corner of Sutter and Van Ness. Big Brother and the Holding Company debuted there in June 1966. Later Helms would get them the appearance that made them famous, the Monterey Pop Festival, where Albert Grossman spotted Joplin and offered her a contract.

The Family Dog panel van after being recovered in 2022.

“The collective was originally based out of Detroit and operated under the name the Arts West Movement,” Stames explains. “But in 1964 or 1965, the group moved out to Haight-Ashbury due to the low housing prices.” It hosted some of the city’s first psychedelic rock events in the basement “Ball Room” of a rented mansion. Because so many members of the collective had dogs, they adopted the Family Dog name, which later morphed into Family Dog Productions.

The Family Dog panel van looking sharp back in the day.

Even with dozens of dogs, one particular pooch named Sancho led the pack. The free-spirited pup belonged to Homicz and was known to be “the alpha male of the pack,” Stames says. “A free-roaming dog, coming and going as he pleased, in and around the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.” Sancho’s portrait is seen on both sides of the van’s body, next to the Family Dog name.

The splashy paint job, which includes a mandala across the roof, was done in 1965 by Stanley “Mouse” Miller, a revered psychedelic artist. The colorful van was the collective’s primary mode of transportation, and would haul all concert necessities up and down the West Coast. “From the streets of Haight-Ashbury to the free concert at Golden Gate Park and all along the beach parties of the late ’60s, the truck was there,” Stames says… read more >

Chaotique Licence Psychédélique 1967 Vintage Men’s T-Shirt

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