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Rock poster artist Bonnie MacLean

Bonnie MacLean (1939–2020), pioneering rock poster artist

by Linnea Crowther

Bonnie MacLean was a poster artist who created swirling, psychedelic imagery in her concert posters for San Francisco’s Fillmore Auditorium. One of the only women working as a rock poster artist, MacLean was the Fillmore’s in-house artist from 1967 to 1971, creating posters for concerts including the Doors, the Yardbirds, Pink Floyd, and Cream. Some of her posters are worth thousands of dollars to collectors. MacLean was married to Bill Graham, the Fillmore’s concert promoter, during the 1960s and ‘70s.

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Died: February 4, 2020 (Who else died on February 4?)


Details of death: Died at a hospice facility in Newton, Pennsylvania at the age of 80.

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Poster artists: MacLean took over as the Fillmore’s resident poster artist from Wes Wilson, who died in January, less than two weeks before MacLean. MacLean initially emulated Wilson’s psychedelic art nouveau style, later developing her own recognizable style of artwork and lettering. In 2007, MacLean’s poster art was featured in the Whitney Museum of Modern Art’s “Summer of Love: Art of the Psychedelic Era.”

MacLean on her freedom to create: “The one thing [Graham] wanted the most, naturally, is for the information to be available and to be understood — it had to be there, it had to be legible. But he didn’t have an agenda beyond that. He didn’t suggest the posters have any kind of imagery, he didn’t suggest anything in particular. We were free to do what we wanted to do, and that was a treat — I liked that part a lot.” —from a 2015 interview with The Key

What people said about her: “Wasn’t aware Bonnie MacLean passed away on Feb 4 of this year. Often overlooked due to no other reason than her gender, she was a core member of the first wave of truly influential rock artists. RIP Bonnie” —Twitter user @GalaxyGallery1

“Sad to hear of the passing of legendary poster artist Bonnie MacLean. I’m very honored to own original prints of two of her Fillmore posters. They are my absolute favorites.” —Twitter user EdKaz

Full obituary: San Francisco Chronicle

Related lives:

  • Wes Wilson (1937 – 2020), leading 1960s rock concert poster artist
  • Pedro Bell (2019), Funkadelic album cover artist
  • Bill Gold (1921 – 2018), iconic movie poster artist

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