‘Artlaw’ Boyd Elder’s ‘Chingadero Show,’ Venice, 4-2-72

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Boyd Elder's 'El Chingadero Show' poster by Rick Griffin

Notorious Texas “artlaw” and Laurel Canyon-Troubadour fixture Boyd Elder displayed large-format acrylic pieces and other recent works at an exhibit in Venice, California, he called the “El Chingadero Show” in April 1972.

Fellow artist John Van Hamersveld, a classmate of Elder’s at the Chouinard Art Institute in downtown Los Angeles, had helped arrange the venue, a former auto garage at 201 San Juan, just off Main Street.

Another friend and Chouinard classmate, Rick Griffin, created a limited-edition poster that was folded and mailed to invitees. It’s now very rare, especially if unfolded, and/or signed by Elder or Griffin.

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Rick Griffin with his ‘Chingadero Show’ poster as a work in progress, San Clemente, early 1972. Photo: Boyd Elder. Courtesy Boyd Elder Estate.

Elder friend and patron Gary Burden, the renowned rock ‘n’ roll art director, staged the exhibit’s opening reception on Easter Sunday, April 2, 1972, attended by friends, patrons, and clients including Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Cass Elliot, David Geffen, Ned Doheny, Mark Volman, Joel Bernstein, and dozens more.

Burden also invited a new group of Troubadour habitues signed to Geffen’s Asylum label to play the show. Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, and Bernie Leadon, billing themselves as “Eagles,” played their first performance for an L.A. audience of their peers at the “Chingadero Show.”

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Eagles at daybreak in the California desert at Joshua Tree, coming down from the peyote buttons they’d eaten before dawn on the shoot for their first album, early 1972: Randy Meisner, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey. Photo: Henry Diltz/Henry Diltz Photography. Used with permission.

The group had already recorded their first album in England with producer Glyn Johns, and Henry Diltz, the renowned photographer and also a close friend of Elder’s, had shot stills of the band during a peyote trip in Joshua Tree for the album package, designed by Burden.  Asylum was gearing up to launch a media blitz in May leading up to the album’s release on June 1.

Diltz also shot stills and some Super 8 footage at the “Chingadero Show,” as Elder called it for short. Special thanks to Henry, Henry Diltz Photography, and his Morrison Hotel Gallery for permission to reprint a few pics here.

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Jackson Browne (left) leads a singalong with Bryan Garofalo (behind Browne), Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot, David Geffen, Ned Doheny, and friends at Boyd Elder’s ‘El Chingadero Show,’ Venice, California, April 2, 1972. Photo: Henry Diltz/Henry Diltz Photography. Used with permission.
Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot and David Geffen at Boyd Elder's 'Chingadero Show'
Joni Mitchell, Cass Elliot, David Geffen, and friends at Boyd Elder’s ‘El Chingadero Show,’ Venice, California, April 2, 1972. Photo: Henry Diltz/Henry Diltz Photography. Used with permission.
Jammin' at the Chingadero Show, April 1973. Photo: Henry Diltz.
Bernie Leadon, Jackson Browne, John Barrick, Joni Mitchell, David Geffen, and Ned Doheny jam at Boyd Elder’s ‘El Chingadero Show,’ Venice, California, April 2, 1972. Photo: Henry Diltz/Henry Diltz Photography. Used with permission.

Burden also shot some early video at the show (brief and different clips appeared in the 2007 BBC documentary “Hotel California: L.A. from the Byrds to the Eagles“; the 2012 PBS “American Masters” profile “Inventing David Geffen“; and the 2020 Epix Laurel Canyon documentary).

“We weren’t really fit for public presentation at that point,” Henley said about the “Chingadero Show” gig in the latter doc. “But we were just happy to be hanging out with that crowd. It was the greatest thing because all the people trying to write songs and trying to make records were very supportive of one another.”

Several months before the event, Griffin had sent Elder a special present for Christmas: a scalloped, painted, and pinstriped turkey breast.

After a fire on May 31, 1973, in Elder’s garage studio on the family ranch in Valentine, Texas, destroyed most of his previous works and several in-progress pieces, he would find inspiration in the ornate bone his friend had sent. Elder would create his best-known works – the series of painted and adorned animal skulls he called “American Fetish – RIP” – over the next few years.

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Boyd Elder’s ‘One of These Nights’ Eagles cover and Rick Griffin’s turkey breast cap. Composite: Randy Nauert.

Three of Elder’s “American Fetish” pieces and his lettering were featured on Eagles album covers: One of These Nights (1975); Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) (1976; the best-selling album in U.S. history at 38 million-plus and counting per the RIAA’s last tally in August 2018); and The Very Best Of… (2003).

"Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975," with cover art by Boyd Elder, 1976.
Eagles’ “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975),” with cover art based on the skull of an eagle and lightning-bolt lettering by Boyd Elder, 1976.
Eagles’ “The Very Best Of…,” with “American Fetish – RIP” sculpture “Black Horse Running” and lightning-bolt lettering by Boyd Elder, 2003.

So untold millions of music fans around the world might not know Boyd Elder by name, but they know those images.

Read more about Boyd Elder aka “El Chingadero” here.

And stay tuned for “Boyd Elder, Artlaw: The Greatest Artist You’ve Never Heard Of,” coming soon to a brick-and-mortar or online bookstore near you.


Stephen K. Peeples is a Grammy-nominated multi-media writer-producer and award-winning radio/record-industry veteran raised in Miami and Los Angeles by career newspaper journalists and music lovers. He met and wrote his first story about Boyd Elder in 1978. Based in Santa Clarita, California, Peeples is (as of early 2022) co-developing a Boyd Elder art book-biography, “Boyd Elder, Artlaw: The Greatest Artist You’ve Never Heard Of.” He is also co-authoring a new book with artist and pop-culture legend John Van Hamersveld commemorating the 60th anniversary in 2023-24 of Hammer’s iconic poster for Bruce Brown’s epic surf movie “The Endless Summer.” And he is conspiring with Cindy Johnson and Jeri Jenkins, founders of Home At Last, the Miami-based concierge service for rock stars recording at Criteria and Bayshore Studios, on the dynamic duo’s memoirs. See the “About” page on Peeples’ website. More original stories and exclusive interviews are posted on that site and on his YouTube channel.


Article: Artlaw Boyd Elder’s ‘Chingadero Show,” Venice, 4-2-72
Category: Blasts From the Past
Author: Stephen K. Peeples
Article Source: stephenkpeeples.com