Afterthought Poster T61 Freewheelin' Franklin
Strangely enough, Jerry Kruz has no memories of the fabled golden period of hippiedom, the 1967 “Summer of Love” in Vancouver.
Kruz was the then-teenaged promoter who brought the biggest names in psychedelic rock music and light shows to Vancouver in the mid-’60s.
Kruz had established the city’s first psychedelic dance hall, The Afterthought, in 1965 and for the best part of two years had nurtured and featured the local musicians who would go on to make big names for themselves.
Many local bands were part of this brief history of the Afterthought, some of which were featured on the 1983 compilation LP produced by the Vancouver Record Collectors Association, called The History of Vancouver’s Rock + Roll. Kruz also hired the pioneering light shows of the time, which went under such names as Trans-Euphoric Light Show.
Kruz has captured his memories of those days along with superb posters from the Afterthought in his 2014 memoirs, “The Afterthought: West Coast Rock Posters & Recollections.” The 250-page book is published by Rocky Mountain Books (www.rmbooks.com). To this day, Kruz also maintains a poster reproduction business, selling copies of the ’60s posters in shops across Canada and the USA.
It was a heady time, and as a pioneering rock promoter Kruz was making a name for himself as well as a solid income from the ever-growing popularity of the dances. He was driving his flashy new Mustang convertible down to San Francisco, making deals, and hobnobbing, with the big stars.
He was Vancouver’s answer to legendary American producer Bill Graham, but then in late 1966 it all came crashing down when he came up on the radar of Vancouver Mayor Tom Campbell and the head of Vancouver City Police’s drug squad, Abe Snidanko. Kruz was busted for possession of a few marijuana joints, and the jail and prison experiences were brief but traumatizing, Kruz says.
But through the turmoil of those days, Kruz still trekked down to northern California in early 1967 to see for himself what was happening in the hippie haven.
“I had gone to California and the whole hippie movement was just starting,” Kruz told BeatRoute magazine. “Vancouver and San Francisco were in sync with their hippie movements.