Archive for the 'Counterculture (1960s)' Category

Gandalf’s Garden, Circa 1969 – 1972


Gandalf Circa 1969-3

Gandalf's Garden Circa 1969

Gandalf Circa 1969-4

Gandalf Circa 1969-5

Gandalf Circa 1969-6

Gandalf Circa 1969-7

Gandalf Circa 1969-8

Gandalf Circa 1969-9

Gandalf Circa 1969-10

Gandalf’s Garden was a shop and mystical community in Chelsea, London, that was active between 1969 and 1972. Founded by Muz Murray (a.k.a. Ramana Baba), now a “world renowned Mystic and Mantra Yoga Master,” the community downplayed psychedelics, instead embracing meditation, yoga, and various Eastern religious practices. A magazine of the same name was produced by Murray, Jaya Amler, and friends, running to six issues. Here’s a section of the introductory manifesto from the first issue:

Gandalf the White Wizard from the trilogy of THE LORD OF THE RINGS, by J.R.R. Tolkien, is fast becoming absorbed in the youthful world spirit as the mythological hero of the age, as graven an image on the eternal psyche as Merlin of the Arthurian legends. In the land of Middle Earth under threat of engulfment by the dark powers, Gandalf unites the differing races, mistrustful of each other through lack of understanding and communication, in a final effort to save the world. The crusader spirit in Gandalf is echoed in the cry of the Now Generation seeking an Alternative to the destructive forces of today’s world, by spreading human love and aid, for the unity of all the peoples of the Earth.

GANDALF’S GARDEN grows in that same spirit. For GANDALF’S GARDEN is the magical garden of our inner worlds, overgrowing into the world of manifestation. GANDALF’S GARDEN is soulflow from the pens of creators – mystics, writers, artists, diggers, delvers and poets. A wellspring of love and anguish that those with searching thirsts may drink thereof. As in the Stone Gardens of the Orient, where Soul Wizards sit within the stimulus of their own silences, contemplating the smoothness of the million pebbles, so should we seek to stimulate our own inner gardens if we are to save our Earth and ourselves from engulfment.

You can read more about Gandalf’s Garden, and thumb through the magazines, at the tribute site maintained by two original “gardeners,” Rosemary and Darroll Pardoe. All of the photos except the first one were taken by Colin Bord.

And there’s a short video “capturing a gathering of ‘heads’ outside Gandalf’s Garden” here. The video was shot on July 5, 1969, the day the Rolling Stones played the free show in Hyde Park.

(Images via Pardoes, Pinterest, and The Library Time Machine)

Middle Earth Clothing Ad, Circa 1967

Middle Earth Clothing Ad 1967

Middle Earth Clothing Ad 1967-2

The artist is Terre, who is closely associated with Haight Ashbury’s Straight Theater, which is identified on the middle left of the map. The exotic fruit hanging from the various branches, as well as the mountains at the bottom of the ad, are direct allusions to Barbara Remington’s cover art for the first authorized paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings.

According to SFist, in 2013 the awning of a beauty salon was removed in North Beach, San Francisco, revealing a beautiful, hand-painted sign (below) of what was once a second Middle Earth Clothing location.

See also A Change of Hobbit Bookstore.

Middle Earth Clothing 1317 Grant 1968

(Images via eBay and SFist)

The Lord of the Rings T-Shirt (Tolkien Enterprises, 1978)




You’ll see a “Hip-O-Potamus S.F.” on the bottom left of the shirt. That refers to an influential San Francisco company founded in 1970 by Jeffrey Axelrod and Barry Anderson. Their first job, after they had no luck selling their own designs, came when a store owner asked them to print out 200 t-shirts of an original design over the weekend. Says Jeff, who still sells some of the original Hippo Tees designs:

It just so happened that the owner of that very store was the wife of the drummer for the iconic band, the Grateful Dead. It was 1971 and she had the vision to sell t-shirts at rock concerts, and so our t-shirt venture exploded! Our first rock’n t-shirts [the company was originally called Rock-n-Roll t-shirts] went on tour with the Grateful Dead.

The company would later collaborate with promoter Bill Graham’s Winterland Productions, selling shirts at Bay Area rock shows, a practice that shortly became standard. Jeff (mushroom shirt) and Barry (far right) can be seen below, circa 1970.

You can see more of the Tolkien Enterprises Lord of the Rings t-shirt designs here and here, and a much stranger design here.


`Hobbit T-Shirts’ and `Come to Middle Earth’ Ads in Rolling Stone (December, 1977)

Rolling Stone 1977

The Quest of the Magic Ring board game, seen below, was published in 1975 by Land of Legend, the placer of the ad on the right. You can see more photos at Board Game Geek. The first board game based on Tolkien’s work is probably Conquest of the Ring (Hobbit Toy and Games, 1970).

The ad image is via Butterfly Mind, where you can see more of the Rolling Stone issue. “Come to Middle Earth” and “Frodo Lives!” were slogans adopted by the counterculture starting in the late 1960s.

Quest 1975-2

Quest 1975-3

Middle Earth Discount Records and Tapes, Circa 1977

Middle Earth 1974

I found the photo at Michael Poulin’s Flickr and subsequently discovered the Middle Earth Records Memorial Page. The music store and head shop opened in 1969 and closed in 2007. Business card below.

Middle Earth Card

Larry Todd Art: Infinity #5 (Summer, 1973)

Todd Infinity #5 1973-2

Todd Infinity #5 1973

Todd Infinity #5 1973-4

Todd Infinity #5 1973-5

Todd Infinity #5 1973-6

Todd Infinity #5 1973-3

Todd, who created the notable underground comic Dr. Atomic, was very active in the sci-fi/fantasy zine circuit of the 1970s, including Warren (Creepy, Eerie) and Skywald (Nightmare, Psycho) Publications. He and friend Vaughn Bodē did a number of terrific cover collaborations as well.

The above work is a smashing example of the intersection of counterculture themes (psychedelics, Native American culture, the American biker lifestyle, anti-authoritarianism, sexual freedom, and so on) and the expanding sci-fi and fantasy community. Per psychotropicis ad astra!

The “Aircar circa 1989” on the second page kind of reminds me of the Spinner cars in Blade Runner.

(Images via The Golden Age and Comic Attack)

Tales of Fantasy by Larry Todd (Troubador Press, 1975) (Part Two)


















In part one I give some background on the book and publisher Malcolm Whyte explains how it came to be. The material Todd covers is a very eclectic mix of ancient myth, fantasy, horror, sci-fi, pulp, children’s literature, and even poetry (Lewis Carroll, whose work was a drug culture keystone). Many of the works represented, including Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle, had recently seen new editions as part of Ballantine’s popular Adult Fantasy series.

Greg Irons Art: `Strange Happenings’ Handbill, 1967

Strange Happ Irons 1967

Strange Happ Irons 1967-3

So very interesting. Steve Ditko created the Dr. Strange character in the early ’60s, and Stan Lee introduced the “Master of Black Magic” in Strange Tales #110 (1963). The Ditko/Lee creation was a reflection of the uncanny times, a generation’s embrace of all things mystical and occult. Here Irons simultaneously appropriates the Marvel “property” (there is no mention of the company or the character name) while emulating Ditko’s style and the spirit of his and Lee’s Sorcerer Supreme. Irons did at least three posters for Space Age.

California Hall is a San Francisco landmark and makes an appearance in Dirty Harry (1971) in the scene where Callahan talks down a suicide jumper.

‘Come to Middle Earth’ Posters (1967, 1969)

LOTR Middle Earth 1967

The first poster is by Clifford Charles Seeley for Berkeley Bonaparte, 1967. Seeley did several rock posters in the same style, including Jefferson Airplane and Hendrix. The identification of Haight Ashbury with Middle Earth was popular among residents at the time.

The second poster (below) displays Barbara Remington art from the first authorized paperback edition of The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s also a 1968 jigsaw puzzle featuring all of the images from the trilogy side by side.

The “Come to Middle Earth” and “Frodo Lives!” memes were employed (or co-opted, depending on your point of view) during the extensive marketing campaign for Bakshi’s 1978 animated feature.

LOTR Middle 1969

`Gandalf the Grey’ Poster (Berkeley Bonaparte, 1967)

Gandalf Poster 1967

“Then will you see Gandalf the Grey uncloaked” is what Gandalf says in The Fellowship of the Ring after Bilbo refuses to give up the ring, eventually threatening the wizard by touching the hilt of his sword.

The artist is Mark Kanen, who did several designs for Berkeley Bonaparte, a poster art company and head shop founded in San Francisco in 1967.

(Image via Hake’s)




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