For jazz fans, a poster of Chet Baker almost seems to come with its own soundtrack. Posters of blues artists conjure the smoky, booze-soaked dives where John Lee Hooker and other practitioners of that great American musical genre held court. Vintage country-western posters advertising Buck Owens suggest the sweetly intermingled scents of cold beer and fresh hay. And for fans of 1960s rock music, well, a concert poster from Cream’s first U.S. tour may be the only way for them to remember they were there.

Some vintage music and concert posters are easier to find than others. Trying to build a collection of original, mid-20th-century jazz posters of Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, and Miles Davis would probably be a frustrating, and expensive, pursuit. An artist named Dennis Loren makes beautiful "restoration lithographs" of jazz posters from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, but if a high-quality reprint is unacceptable to you, consider a vintage movie poster with the artist’s name in the credits—Count Basie gets prominent billing on the movie poster for "Top Man"; Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington are both listed on the poster for "Cabin in the Sky."

In the world of country music, Hatch Show Print of Nashville is the oldest print shop in the United States (it has been around since 1879). Hatch made, and continues to make, posters for all the Grand Ole Opry stars, from Bill Monroe to Roy Acuff to Patsy Cline.

Symphony buffs need not feel left out of the world of vintage music posters. Since 1972, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival has been publishing handsome, high-quality posters designed around paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe, Dan Namingha, and other southwest artists.

But without a doubt, the most accessible and collected type of vintage concert poster is the 1960s rock poster. In London, Michael English and Nigel Waymouth, working as Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, produced psychedelic updates of Art Nouveau posters for Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Traffic, and The Who.

In Boston, the owners of a club called Boston Tea Party tended to take a clean, graphic approach to publicize concerts by everyone from local heroes J. Geils Band to New York’s Velvet Underground. Tea Party posters were frequently composed of little more than a block or two of solid color juxtaposed with formal-looking type.

Detroit had the Grande Ballroom, whose resident poster artist was Gary Grimshaw. His posters for locals like MC5 and visitors such as The Fugs tilted more toward the psychedelic style, often incorporating altered photographs into his design...

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Dahlgren made posters for a club called the Kaleidoscope, whose posters were always circular. Across town, John Van Hamersveld produced beautiful, trippy images for Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, and other bands playing L.A.’s Shrine Auditorium.

But the city that’s best known for vintage rock posters is San Francisco. A combination of multiple music venues and lots of talented artists was the catalyst for the vibrant scene. Over at the Avalon Ballroom, Chet Helms hired Wes Wilson, followed by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley, to make posters for shows featuring The Blues Project, Captain Beefheart, Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Grateful Dead.

That first year, 1966, Kelley and Mouse created an image for the Grateful Dead that would visually define the band. Known among collectors as FD026, it was based on an illustration the artists found in a 19th-century copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Sometimes called Skeleton & Roses, a version of this poster would be used as an album cover for the band in 1971. Today it is one of the most enduring and collectible images in psychedelic rock.

Over at Bill Graham’s Fillmore Auditorium, artist Wes Wilson created posters that helped define the psychedelic lettering style of the day. In 1966, several of Wilson’s posters also featured photographs by Herb Greene. One of the best of these, BG025, revolved around a terrific portrait of a pre-Jefferson Airplane Grace Slick, a smile teasing the corners of her lips as she looks tantalizingly to her right and out of the camera’s range.

With a resume that bridged the Avalon and the Fillmore, Wilson was a respected figure on the local rock-poster scene. Indeed, when the Beatles came to town in August of 1966 to play what would be their last live performance, Wilson was hired to make the poster for that show.

Another influential San Francisco artist was Rick Griffin, whose February 1968 "Flying Eyeball" poster (BG105) for Jimi Hendrix, John Mayall, and Albert King is an icon of the art form.

Victor Moscoso rounds out the so-called Big Five (Wilson, Kelley, Mouse, and Griffin being the other four). Moscoso produced numerous posters for the Avalon and a smaller club called the Matrix. For Moscoso fans, the Holy Grail is to collect all 27 posters in the artist’s hyper-vivid Neon Rose series.

Other San Francisco poster artists of note include Lee Conklin, whose black-and-white drawing of a lion for a show at the Fillmore West became a celebrated album cover for Carlos Santana. Another important Fillmore alum is David Singer, who created 67 Fillmore posters, including the venue’s final one to mark its historic closing week.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Fillmore and Avalon Collection

Wish you'd visited San Francisco in the late 1960s? Get a quick hit with this comprehensive collection of psychedel… [read review or visit site]

London Transport Museum Posters

London Transport Museum Posters

A must-see collection of 5,000 vivid, colorful British posters from the early 1900s onward. Browse by artist (over … [read review or visit site]

Remember Eddie Cochran

Remember Eddie Cochran

Eddie Cochran died in 1960 at the age of 21, but his legacy lives on at Remember Eddie Cochran. The site pays tribu… [read review or visit site]

Hey babe, check out this database of over 2,900 Bob Dylan ticket stubs and concert posters, assembled with the help… [read review or visit site]

USSR Posters

USSR Posters

Ben Perry's Flickr photoset showcasing almost 1500 Soviet propaganda, advertising, theatre and movie posters from 1… [read review or visit site]

New York Public Library

New York Public Library

The New York Public Library's impressive Digital Gallery offers free access to over 500,000 historical images inclu… [read review or visit site]

The American Memory Project

The American Memory Project

This amazing Library of Congress site includes about a hundred photo and document collections (see complete list) o… [read review or visit site]

Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Pearl Jam Frank Black Troy Chicago 1998 Concert Poster Ames Bros S/n Low Number1998 Pearl Jam East Lansing Tour Poster AmesKiss Rare Army Kit Loaded 1978 Vintage Photo Set Poster Aucoin Mego No LpKiss Ace Frehley, Original Poster By Eureka Lithograph, 1977, 22x34, VgHapshash.original 1966 Nigel Waymouth Poster.the Wizard. Pre Hapshash!The Jam Original Vintage Tour Live Poster Promo Memrobilia Paul Weller Rare Mod 1998 Pearl Jam Tour Poster Minneapolis Ward Sutton MintBlondie 1976 First Album Promo Poster New Condition Private Stock Debbie HarryKiss Paul Stanley, Original Poster By Eureka Lithograph, 1977, 22x34, VgJack White & Loretta Lynn Poster Bridgestone Arena Nashville Hatch 1/28/2015Grateful Dead Cafe Au Go-go Nyc 1967 Aor Concert PosterT197. Vintage: Kiss Poster By Aucoin Management Inc. (1977)T196. Vintage: Kiss Live Ii Poster Produced By Boutwell (1977)Kiss Peter Criss, Original Poster By Eureka Lithograph, 1977, 22x34, VgFoo Fighters Hobart 2015 Silkscreen Concert Poster Art Ken Taylor Signed NumberBad Religion Rare 1997 Shepard Fairey Silk Screen Concert Poster ObeyCrass Promo Poster,anarchy,punk,sex Pistols,clash,lp,cd,gee Vaucher,5000,Blondie Plastic Letters Promo Poster,ramones Sex Pistols,clash,lp AdvertIron Maiden Poster Store Promo! (huge!) "eddie Is Coming"Foo Fighters Sydney 2015 Silkscreen Concert Poster Art Ken Taylor Signed & Numb Family Dog Poster Fd-29 2nd Print. Mouse/kelly Big Brother/jim Kweskin Etc.Phish Poster Dick's 2012White Stripes Rare 2002 Silk Screen Concert Poster Grape Ape S/n Edition #015Phish Tour Poster Summer 1997 Special Guests, The Giant Country Horns "pollock"Rare Iron Maiden No Prayer On The Road 1990/91 Tour Poster T120 Vintage Jefferson Airplane Fillmore Auditorium Bobby Goldsboro Poster 1960sSelena Quintanilla Rare Promotional PosterMadonna Rebel Heart Living For Love Rare Promo PosterJerry Garcia Band Palace Theater Albany Ny 4/11/1981 Show Poster Abba Arrival Poster. Australia 1970's. 89cm X 60.5cm. Rare Aussie Poster.Kiss Autographed Dynasty Lp Poster ~ Signed By Original 4 ~ Really.Jeff Beck Signed "guitar Shop" Poster Art PrintHuge 1987 Depeche Mode Music For The Masses Store Display Poster 40x60Jeff Wood Widespread Panic Atlanta Atl 2011 Poster Wsp Concert Print AeOriginal Grateful Dead Uptown Theatre Chicago 1981 Concert Poster Not HandbillPearl Jam Poster Chicago - August 24, 2009 Sleater-kinney Terminal 5 Poster (feb 26) #13/50 - Kyler MartzFamily Dog Poster Fd-28 2nd Print. Zebra Man Mouse/kelly 13th Floor ElevatorsIron Maiden "best Of The Beast" Full 2 Page Press Advert & 16 Page Book PosterAbba - Name Of The Game Poster. 79cm X 58.5cm. Made In Holland 1970s.Kiss Ace Snowblind 20x24 Poster Art Iron Maiden Original French Concert Poster '86Tool Concert Poster Original Screen Print Signed By Lindsey Kuhn- Minor DamageBritney Spears Rare Oops I Did It Again Lot Cd Case, Stronger, Poster , StickersThe Cure Original French Concert Poster '85Rare Sf Snack Concert Poster Jerry Garcia Santana Doobie Brothers Neil Young '75Kiss Collection Lot - Diecast , Used Candle , Bumper Sticker , Textile PosterRolling Stones Love You Live News Print Promo Display Poster Warhol Jagger 77 CdPearl Jam Eddie Vedder Detroit Solo Show Poster Print Mark Five 5 Red WingsKiss Special-1978 Music Life All-kiss Magazine Alive Ii Tour W/poster AucoinKiss Encylopedia-1977 Music Life Special Magazine Japanese Tour W/poster AucoinAc/dc Ac Dc Original French Movie Poster '81Rare Grateful Dead Concert Poster 1977 Selland Arena Randy Tuten Bill Graham Orig 1956 Otis Rush And His Orchestra Tour Blank Tribune Press Boxing Poster!Alice Cooper Original French Concert Poster 59"x38" '82Marilyn Manson Signed Promo PosterMichael Jackson Original French Concert Poster '88Sid Vicious Promo Poster,my Way Lyric Sheet,sex Pistols,clash,anarchy,clash LpZakk Wylde Signed - Book Of Shadows - Poster Joy Division Gig Poster 1978 Punk Rock 1977 Warsaw Wire New Order

Recent News: Music and Concert Posters

Source: Google News

Record Store Day 2015: Dogfish Head named official beer, releasing ..., March 4th

The Crosley-produced portable turntable will retail for $120 and will feature artwork by concert poster artist Marq Spusta. Spusta also designed the official Record Store Day poster, which will be available April 18 at select stores. Dogfish Head's...Read more

Dogfish Head named official beer of Record Store Day (blog), March 3rd

Of course, though, listening to it on a non-Dogfish-approved product just wouldn't be the same, so the brewery teamed up with Crosley turntables to release a $120 portable player featuring art from Marq Spusta, a concert poster artist and frequent...Read more

One Direction fans - 15 things only true Directioners understand
Metro, March 1st

Some might say that it's just a phase and will soon fizzle out, but five years later and our love is stronger than ever. Being a One Direction fan is almost like a lifestyle choice. Spending hours a day online searching for the latest Harry Styles...Read more

Slash Makes Himself At Home In The Triple M Offices
TripleM Sydney (blog), February 25th

The item was a framed picture of Led Zepplin's Celebration Day album/concert poster signed by none other than Jimmy Page. ...and of course we gave it to her, it's Slash's missus! On The Grill Team, Matty had a different view of things, he reckons Slash...Read more

Music Hall of Fame names 5 new inductees
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, February 25th

Ali Wille, a recent graduate of SUNY Brockport, won a contest to design a concert poster, which shows colorful geometric musicians playing over the city's skyline. The last two Hall of Fame concerts were near sell-outs. Tickets (ranging from $20 to $50...Read more

Badass: Jack White Scratch-Off Concert Poster Offers Prizes & Surprises
Crave Online, February 11th

NCAA March Madness · NY Int'l Auto Show · Oscars · PAX East · San Diego Comic-Con · Sasquatch! South by Southwest · Sundance Film Festival · Super Bowl. » Music / Articles / Badass: Jack White Scratch-Off Concert Poster Offers Prizes & Surprises ...Read more

Check Out The Jack White Scratch-Off Concert Poster
Stereogum, February 5th

Jack White loves limited edition oddities, and he especially loves limited edition oddities that have something to do with him. Back in 2012, we wrote about a very limited edition “Triple Decker Poster” (which sold for $280) designed by Matthew...Read more

A New Family Dog Concert Poster Exhibit Tells the Story of a Legendary Denver ...
Westword, February 5th

The Family Dog opened in September 1967 and closed just a year later. In that short span, the venue was home to plenty of epic experiences. Janis Joplin started off the Family Dog's time in Denver with the band Big Brother. The Doors, Jefferson...Read more