Moby Grape – Ultra Rare 1967 Promotional Box Set (With 5 Picture Sleeve Singles, Much More)

The rarest Moby Grape collectible and likely the rarest San Francisco psychedelic rock artifact–the legendary Moby Grape promotional box set, issued in 1967 in conjunction with Columbia Records’ bungled launch of the band’s debut album. This example was exhibited at the San Francisco Museum of Performance and Design as part of their 2009/2010 exhibition Something’s Happening Here: The San Francisco Rock Scene .

The silkscreened velveteen slipcase box contains a 3″ Moby Grape button, 10 of the 13 songs from their debut album on 5 individual picture sleeved singles, a custom covered press kit, an 8 x 10″ band photo, a 22″ x 33″ poster (machine folded) with the censored album cover photo featuring drummer Don Stevenson giving ‘the finger’, a 3 page press release detailing the “gigantic campaign” to launch the band, a single page press release about the release of the release of 5 singles simultaneously, and a 12 page biography.

To quote from one of the press releases “Columbia Records is taking the unprecedented step of simultaneously releasing five singles by Moby Grape as part of a gigantic campaign to make the entire country Moby Grape conscious. At the same time the label is also releasing an album by the San Francisco group, which, before signing with Columbia, was sought after by as many as seven record labels.” It goes on to detail the “special party and concert” at the Avalon Ballroom, for which Columbia was flying in radio, retail, and Columbia personnel, and makes the ridiculous claim that “the label is convinced that each of the ten sides in the initial singles release has the potential of making it to the top of the national charts.” It details release plans, the creation of a “Moby Grape Manual” to be issued to sales and promotion execs, the fact that “all correspondence and news releases concerning the Grape will be printed on special paper with their logo as the letterhead,” and much more about the hype surrounding this release.

As legend has it, this over-the-top promotional campaign is generally considered to have killed the band’s commercial prospects. With airplay split between 10 tracks, no hit single was possible–and there was a backlash against the huge Columbia hype machine.  And Don Stevenson giving ‘the finger’ on the album cover artwork, later airbrushed out, certainly didn’t help the band’s retail prospects.  And so this truly incredible album was lost in the shuffle.

All of the elements are in excellent to near excellent condition; the velveteen slipcover has some minor scuffing from nearly 40 years of storage, the inner box is fully intact, the button and 45’s are mint, the picture sleeves near mint, the press kit cover, photo and press releases are all near mint.

We acquired this example from the archive of the late Ralph J. Gleason (1917-1975), on of the most influential music critics ever. He was a central figure in the San Francisco rock scene, helped organize the Monterey Pop Festival, and co-founded Rolling Stone Magazine. Bill Graham credited Gleason with suggesting to him the Fillmore Auditorium as a site for concerts, while the Family Dog met with Gleason at his home to discuss their idea to stage dance concerts, prior to their first show.  Our letter of authenticity will note the Gleason provenance and the exhibition of this as part of the San Francisco Museum of Performance and Design’s exhibit Something’s Happening Here: The San Francisco Rock Scene ..

Only the second example we’ve had in 45 years.

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