Celebrated graphic artist and concert art pioneer Gary Grimshaw died last night at Detroit Receiving Hospital after a years-long battle with many illnesses, Billboard has confirmed. He was 67.
A Detroit fixture since the 1960s, Grimshaw is most well-known for his striking psychedelic concert posters for bands such as The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, The Yardbirds, Cream and, of course, the MC5, with whom Grimshaw maintained a storied partnership.
“Gary Grimshaw’s artwork helped define the Detroit rock scene and the Grande Ballroom,” Grant Feichtmeir of Wolfgang’s Vault told Paste in a statement. “Drawing inspiration from poster artists in San Francisco in the 1960s, Grimshaw quickly became recognized as a top poster artist himself. He shared just as much of the spotlight as [owner] Russ Gibb and the MC5, for their roles at the Grande Ballroom. And his artwork will be the foundation of Detroit’s rock scene for the future.”
Raised in Lincoln Park, Mich., Grimshaw grew up close friends with Rob Tyner (then Rob Derminer) and Wayne Kramer, who would go on to become co-founders of the MC5. Grimshaw was first exposed to psychedelic concert art after attending shows at venues such as the Avalon Ballroom and The Fillmore while in the San Francisco Bay Area during his service with the United States Navy. Upon his return to Detroit, Grimshaw began designing similarly provocative posters for the MC5 and other bands performing at the Motor City’s own Grande Ballroom, among other venues. Grimshaw also designed the cover for the MC5’s Kick Out the Jams.
In addition to his role as a concert artist, Grimshaw was an active member of Detroit’s anti-war movement and served as the Minister of Art in the White Panther Party, which primarily focused on the freeing of political prisoners and ecopolitics before becoming The Rainbow Peoples Party.
Grimshaw is survived by his wife, Laura, and son, Alan, as well as by a body of work that graces the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum.