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 With Rancid Concert PosterPearl Jam And Ben Harper Concert PosterThe Clash Debut American Album Poster, The Damned, Sex Pistols, Punk Advert LpThe Smiths The Queen Is Dead Promo Poster, Morrissy, Joy Division, Lp Advert 1981 The Clash At Bonds International Casino Concert PosterWidespread Panic Poster 1998 Pelham LucchesiThe Damned Dead Boys Promo Tour Poster, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Stiff Lp Phish It Festival Poster - Framed And Signed By All 4 Members2006 Pearl Jam Italy Tour Poster Mike Mccready Signed Framed Autographed1977 Kiss Army Rare Alive Ii Ace Frehley Solo PosterAlice In Chains Signed Autographed Vintage Layne Staley Whole Band Poster! Rare!1977 Kiss Army Rare Alive Ii Gene Simmons Solo Poster1969 Jimi Hendrix Experience Concert Poster Oakland Coliseum Sunday Apr 27Phish Poster By Jim Pollock (2009 Madison Square Garden. New York, Ny)Kirk Hammett Fear Festevil 2015 Signed Vip Poster Metallica Anthrax Slipknot PsaPrimus Poster Signed By The Band -nashville, Tn 4/15/15 Hells Angels Benefit For The Clap Clinic Tuten Family Dogfillmore Era PosterInvasion Of The Body Snatchers 1978 By Chuck Sperry PosterKiss, Ace Frehley Poster, Rare 1977 Aucoin BoutwellVintage Germs Slash Magazine 1978 Poster Los Angeles Punk Kbd Rare Darby Crash Mint Ten Years After Sun Ra 1968 Bg 145 Fillmore Poster Phish Poster By Tyler Stout Mint Condition David Welker Phish Rutherford Glow In The Dark Variant Poster Print MockingbirdVintage Iron Maiden Poster The Trooper Black Velvet Black Light. New.Mint Charlatans Buddy Guy 1967 Sky Web Fd 83 Avalon PosterBig Brother & The Holding Co Poster 1968 Santa Clara Fairgrounds Feb 9 The Damned - Original Tour Poster - Newcastle Mayfair 1985 - Phanrasmagoria TourPaul Mccartney Poster Farewell To Candlestick ParkRush Snakes & Arrows 2007 Signed By Entire Band Heavy Stock Poster #119/500 Sublime Rare Original Concert Ad From 1993! 1st Printing! Gig Poster Flier! MintKirk Hammett Fear Festevil 2015 Signed Vip Poster Metallica Slash Slipknot PsaPhish 7/13/2014 Poster Print Randall's Island Signed James Flames Not Pollock 3Original Black Sabbath Ozzy Hawaii Concert Poster Featuresbill Wards Band Frosty1977 Kiss Army Rare Alive Ii Peter Criss Solo PosterJohnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers German Concert Poster 1984 Punk KbdC 1968 Original East Totem West Psychedelic Poster Catalog Tarot Acid Trip HippyOfficial Phish Concert Poster, '99 Albany Ny Pepsi Arena, Pollock Print S/sn Fd 26-3 Family Dog Grateful Dead Mouse Kelley Skeleton & Roses PosterPhish Hartford Pollock Poster 10/27/2013Moody Blues Poster 1960's Sunday, April 5 Santa Clara Fairgrounds Brand New Poster + The Devil And God Lyric Book + "sealed To Me" Lyric Insert Original Bob Dylan Poster By Milton GlaserRolling Stones Huge 1981 Poster Pair New Condition Tattoo You Keith Richards The Avett Brothers Concert Poster Huntington, Wv 04/16/15 Ken TaylorBlink 182 Feeling This Flag Rare Sold Out - Black - Mint - Poster - Banner - WowIron Maiden Girlschool Opening For Scorpions 1982 Tour PosterJames Brown 1974 Aor 4.199 Ann Arbor Blues Festival Thick Stock PosterBritney Spears Signed Poster Onyx Hotel Tour 22 X 28 Plus Additional Poster Barbra Streisand Framed Poster Original RarePearl Jam Oslo, Norway Poster - Rhys Cooper, Sperry, Vedder - Mint And Perfect1977 Kiss Army Rare Alive Ii Paul Stanley Solo PosterGrateful Dead 1966 Fd 26 Skeleton & Roses Avalon Poster *1964 Beatles Signed Australian Tour Mobil Photo Card Poster X1 Dezo Hoffman ExcTech N9ne The Calm Before The Storm Poster- Original- Rare- % Toy Stamp & 1977 Kiss Paul Metallic Poster 25 Inches Tall K 12Vintage Stray Cats Concert Poster Nov 21 1893 Hollywood Rockabilly Brian SetzerMadonna 4x6 Ft Bus Shelter Poster 6ft Rebel HeartWidespread Panic Poster New York 1999Grateful Dead Rare Lithograph Poster Record Store Day Rsd 2015Dimebag Darrell Signed Poster

Recent News: Music and Concert Posters

Source: Google News

2 Chainz Sued for Alleged Contract Violation by Atlanta Promoter over Pair of ...
Music Times, April 20th

We can't comment on the latter claim but it stands to reason that Chainz' second show caused a possible loss of revenue for Rockmo and Wild Bill's: The concert poster published by HipHopDX indicates that The Mansion show had free entry until midnight, ...Read more

Widespread Panic Burns Down Los Angeles Once Again
PopMatters, April 20th

melted face once more while the whole band rocked out to send the Spreadheads back out into the City of Angels on a high to find some good beer. Splash image: concert poster for Widespread Panic's show at the Orpheum by the Zen Dragon Gallery...Read more

'5' Royales family members see stars, history at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Winston-Salem Journal, April 17th

The "5" Royales portion includes a concert poster from 1953, the sheet music to "Dedicated to the One I Love," written by Pauling and Ralph Bass, and a few singles of its biggest hits. Hall of memories. Little memorabilia from the "5" Royales survived...Read more

When Comedian Chris Charpentier Leaves for LA, Denver Will Lose Not Just His ...
Westword, April 17th

There's a documentary called Just Like Being There about concert poster artists that just rules. They're doing it for bands, but it's basically the same thing. So looking at those and realizing that I could do that —especially looking at Dave's...Read more

Dogfish Head's Calagione reveals musical loves
The News Journal, April 16th

Fellow Record Store Day shop Rainbow Books & Music (54 E. Main St., Newark) will open at 10 a.m. Saturday and will have extra copies of this year's Dogfish Head-themed Record Store Day poster by concert poster artist Marq Spusta on hand. Starting at 8 ...Read more

Celebrating Creativity at UWS Campus Day of Celebration
FOX 21 Online, April 14th

The creative showcase allowed students to display their hard work on this semester's research projects, art work, music, poster presentations, and writing. “Many of the projects that students work on are based in the community – have relevance in the ...Read more

One Direction Unveils First Post-Zayn Concert Poster
The Hollywood Gossip, April 10th

Granted, Zayn Malik quit the group a couple weeks ago, prompting outrage, shock and general sadness from millions of young women around the globe. But the boy band has only just now released its brand new poster for its On the Road Again; it's an image ...Read more

Meet country music's poster girl, Beccy Cole
Gay News Network, April 5th

Country music icon Beccy Cole will be taking time out from her national tour next week to promote her new memoir Poster Girl at the Swanson Hotel in Erskineville on Monday, April 13. Expect plenty of good ol' fashioned country music as Cole serenades...Read more