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.
Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)
Fillmore and Avalon Collection
London Transport Museum Posters
Remember Eddie Cochran
New York Public Library
The American Memory Project
Clubs & Associations
Other Great Reference Sites
Most watched eBay auctions
Recent News: Music and Concert Posters
Source: Google News
Psy 'struggled after Gangnam Style'AsiaOne, November 28th
Shinhwa's Shin Hye-sung, wearing a black mask to cover his face, briefly made an appearance on V. "Hi. I am here to see the performance of Dong-wan," he said, in front of a concert poster featuring bandmate Kim Dong-wan. "He doesn't know I am here and...Read more
One-night concert will recapture '60s rock sceneAlbany Times Union, November 28th
Concert poster for The Analog Fog.1967. A line up of bands from the late 1960s in Albany will play Nov. 29 at the Hollow Bar + Kitchen. Concert poster for The Analog Fog.1967. A line up of bands from the late 1960s in Albany will play Nov. 29 at the...Read more
Live Music Round-up – November 27, 2015Echonetdaily, November 26th
Australian country music's poster girl Beccy Cole is without question one of the great live entertainers in Australia and continues to deliver sensation performances that leave you stomping your feet, clapping your hands and yelling for more. After...Read more
Seed Experiences announces Goodluck as the support act for Jungle live in Cape ...Channel 24, November 26th
Seed Experiences announces Goodluck as the support act for Jungle live in Cape Town. 2015-11-26 11:46. Goodluck are the support act for the Jungle Live In Cape Town concert. (Poster: Seed Experiences) ...Read more
Melbourne Can't Handle Its Cocks; Complaints Lodged Over Music PostertheMusic, November 15th
The Advertising Standards Bureau has advised Melbourne singer Emily Ulman that they have received a number of complaints in regards to her recently-designed album launch poster which depicts a cartoon drawing of two men groping each other's genitals...Read more
Girls' Generation's New Pictorial with Baby-G, Concert Poster Release, and An ...Movie News Guide, November 10th
It seems like November 2015 is slowly turning into a big month for Korean girl pop idol group Girls Generation, as not only are they busy preparing for an upcoming concert, but have also recently appeared in a watch campaign, and garnered a spot in the ...Read more
Call for entries: Signal-Return hosts music poster contestDetroit Metro Times (blog), November 2nd
Attention, Detroit's creative class: Eastern Market letterpress studio Signal-Return is currently accepting submissions for a poster contest inspired by Detroit's rich musical heritage. (Full disclosure: I'm on the jury, along with WDET's Ann Delisi...Read more
Sacramento Celebrates Evolving Art Of The Concert PosterCapital Public Radio News, October 8th
From Beethoven to Camper Van Beethoven, as long as there have been concerts there have been concert posters. Plastered all around town on bulletin boards, telephone poles, and record shop windows, the gig poster has gracefully guided music fans into ...Read more