The Seed. 6/21/1965. Everything else came after. Art by Mike Ferguson, George Hunter–The Charlatans.
George Hunter, Richard Olsen, Mike Wilhelm, Dan Hicks, Michael Ferguson.
The Charlatans emerged out of San Francisco State University in early 1965. They packed up and drove to Virginia City, NV, an early bohemian scene that came together in June, when the Red Dog Saloon opened with a two week residency, direct from San Francisco, the limit of the marvelous–Charlatans.
The band honed their chops playing mostly blues and early rock&roll covers. Pianist, Michael Ferguson and singer/autoharp, George Hunter brought their home grown graphics back to SF, just as the Kesey Acid Tests were conceived by the Merry Pranksters, Chet Helms Family Dog, Owsley LSD, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane. At Longshoreman’s Hall, California Hall, Fillmore, Avalon. The poster art, Victorian fashion revival and music scene that followed all owe a debt to The Charlatans.
They never had a hit, they were considered passe by the end of the so-called Summer of Love. Dan Hicks went on to great success with his Hot Licks in the 70s. Mike Wilhelm was active throughout the post Charlatans years. His band Loose Gravel continued the Charlatans style into the early 70s. Mike was also in The Flamin’ Groovies.
Early Family Dog. 1/8/66. Art by Ferguson/Hunter, The Charlatans.
Triptych of Family Dog Avalon Ballroom posters, 1967. Herb Greene photos.
The Charlatans 50th Anniversary Red Dog Saloon Reunion, Virginia City NV, 6/21/2015. ©DavidButterfield.com. Final performance of The Charlatans. Also one of Dan Hicks last performances.