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 FD-26, 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, BG-25, 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 (BG-105) 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]

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]

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]

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]

Dylanstubs.com

Dylanstubs.com

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]

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    

Beatles Ultra Rare 1967 Vintage ' Sgt. Pepper's Lhcb ' U.s. Promotional Poster! Pearl Jam Moline Williams Ap S/n Poster PrintAutographed Shannon Hoon/blind Melon Poster Over 20 Years OldGrateful Dead 1967 Concert Poster Bg,fd,aorVery Rare Mint Johnny Cash 1964 Boxing Style Concert PosterPearl Jam Ames Bros Cleveland Poster. Chuck Sperry Wsp Savannah Print (mint Welker Spusta Emek Widespread Panic PosterCavern Club Vintage 1960s Snack Bar Photo Featuring Beatles Poster Bob WoolerThe Cramps - Vampire From The Crypt Film Poster 1980 RareQuicksilver Messenger Service Poster Bg,fd,aor,grateful DeadPearl Jam Poster St. Louis May 2010The Newtown Neurotics - When The Oil Runs Out 1980 Uk 45 Punk/kbd + Promo PosterPearl Jam Wrigley Field 2016 Poster Klausen S/n Print Chicago Variant Tim Buckley Chambers Brothers Mothers Of Invention Fillmore Concert Poster C1967Led Zeppelin: Atlanta Pop Festival, 1969, Black Light?, Rare Poster!Orig. Vtg. 1969 James Brown Concert Poster Flyer Black & Brown Trading Stamps1979 Original Rock Against Racism Poster Militant Entertainment Tour Angelic UpsKiss 1980 World Tour Poster Gene Simmons Paul Stanley Eric Carr Ace Frehley Jefferson Airplane Rick Griffin Poster Bg,fd,aor,grateful DeadPearl Jam 8/20/98 Montreal & 8/22/98 Toronto Poster - Ames BrosTraffic At Fillmore East Concert Poster C 1968 Blue Cheer Iron Butterfly Round Kaleidoscope Concert Poster Buffalo Springfield/jefferson Airplane Orig Bts-young Forever Special Album Night Ver. 2cd+poster+112p Photo Book+2p Card --Country Joe & The Fish Bob Masse Poster Bg,fd,aor,grateful DeadSigned Blink 182 Tour Poster Autographed Untitled AlbumDave Matthews Band Atlanta Poster Print 7/27/10 Signed Numbered Methane StudiosHuge Original Oasis 1996 Knebworth Park Poster - 60" X 40"Phish Pollock - Amherst October 23, 2010 Phish Poster Mullins Center, U MassBeatles Abbey Road Promotional Poster Rare! Original 1969 Near MintPearl Jam Todd Mcfarlane Spawn Poster Copenhagen Denmark 2012Selena Quintanilla Picture PosterPhish New Years Eve Poster2012 Pearl Jam *mounted* 1993 Tour PosterNct 127 Yuta Folding Poster 2nd Mini Album Limitless Nct127 Fold Out BromideJudas Priest: Screaming For Vengence, Promo Poster Gigantic!Paul Mccartney 2009 Coachella Poster Shepard Fairey *free Shipping/no ReserveKlausen Eddie Vedder Tour Print Poster Batman Pearl JamPhish Poster Nm 2009 New York Fan Art Isadora Bullock Signed Numbered PollockMetallica Poster Bag Tickets Pin London’s House Of Vans 11/18/2016 Promo ConcertYes Yessongs Roger Dean 1973 Poster Creased BottomRolling Stones Artist Signed 1975 Cow Palace Poster Bg,fd,aorBeach Boys Autographed 1986 Sales PosterPhish Poster By Rich Kelly 12/28-31/2013 Nye Msg New YorkGlasses Phish Cid Mexico Maya Riviera Poster 2017 Land Land Print Tote BagThe Cramps Big Beat From Badsville Tour Poster Rare Original Madonna The Virgin Tour Live 1985 Vhs Huge Promo Poster 27 X 40Original Boston Album Poster #476 Huyssen 1978 23"x34" Eureka Lithographic80's Van Halen Band On Stage PosterSkin Yard, Nirvana Seattle Grunge Rock Poster Flyer Jimi Hendrix Very Rare Vintage Poster From Early 1970s (50cm X 76cm)Phish Poster Bader Field Atlantic City 6/17/12 Night 3Kiss Love Gun Subway Poster 1977 Aucoin Mgt 58" X 42" By Dargis Associates Inc.Ames Bros. Pearl Jam Silkscreen PosterKate Bush Tour Of Life PosterPhish Poster Official Msg New York Nye 2016/2017 Drew Millward S/n Limited Queen Rare 1980 The Game German Tour Poster.Kiss Ace Frhley Poster 24x36Phish Poster Aj Masthay 2010 Worcester Nm Signed Numbered Not PollockNirvana Concert Poster With Sister Double HappinessWeen Poster 2016 Capitol Theatre. Autographed By Dean And Gene Ween!