Alton Kelley (1940-2008)
Alton Curtis Kelley was born and raised in Houlton, Maine for six years. This was close to the shipyards where his father worked during World War II. The next job for Mr. Kelley, Sr. would be working on the Corsair (a navy fighter) for Chance Vought in Connecticut -so the family moved there.
Not unlike his future patner (Stanley Mouse) he was mechanically oriented (hot rods, motor cycles) and owned quite a few himself. “Yeah, pin striping, flame jobs and that kind of stuff yeah. I really got involved in the
hot-rod world” – AK. He drew all kinds of pictures as a kid anything and everything- cartoons, portraits, oils, still life, everything.
Victor Moscoso is credited as the most “schooled” rock poster artist – but, Alton did have art lessons as a child and went on to Art Students League of New York & Philadelphia Museum and College of Art for industrial design.
He went west and settled in Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of S.F. With a group of friends he helped stage concerts in 1965 which became known as “The Family Dog”. Kelley was in charge of promotions, posters and handbills for the shows – so, thats how his rock poster artist career began.
In 1966 Kelley formed Mouse Studios with fellow artist Stanley Mouse. Mouse was strong in the drafting department. This was great because Kelley was weak in that area and it made a perfect partnership. They worked on over 150 poster projects together.
It was 1968 Kelley had had enough of the scene and the dance hall days started to fade. He went on the road and got out of town. Next he would start teaching in Boston Museum of Fine Arts and band together again with Mouse to form Monster T-Shirts in the 70’s. They would be life long collaborators.
On June 1st of 2008 Alton Kelley died from complications of osteoporosis, said his wife, Marguerite Trousdale Kelley. This stemmed from permanent back injuries he suffered from motorcycle accident in the 1980’s.