Born in Houlton, Maine, Alton Kelley had an early childhood fascination with anything mechanical and came to love cars, motorcycles and hot rods. He studied industrial design in college, but quit school and moved West in 1964. As one of several hippies inhabiting a Victorian house in the Haight-Ashbury district, he became a founding member of the Family Dog, a collective of activist, enterprising hippies who eventually staged events at the Avalon Ballroom. Despite minimal drafting and art experience, Kelley handled the promotion for the events of the Family Dog, drawing posters and handbills. He soon met up with Stanley Mouse, and their association nurtured Kelley's success as an artist. Kelley had a natural talent for collage and a keen eye for culling and combining imagery and styles from diverse sources. Teamed with Mouse's drafting skill, collaborations became increasingly sophisticated, yet irreverent. Kelley also occasionally teamed with Rick Griffin, claiming that a positive sense of rivalry among the poster artists was an incentive rather than a competition. Kelley continues to work by hand, producing posters and other print graphics for a wide array of entertainment-oriented clients. With Mouse, he published their biography, Mouse and Kelley, in 1979. He lives in Petaluma, California.
Mr. Kelley, with his life-long collaborator, Stanley ''Mouse'' Miller, created some of the most distinctive and memorable images in rock music, including the famous skull-and-roses emblem for the Grateful Dead and the ''Girl With Green Hair'' poster that advertised a concert at the Avalon Ballroom.