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]

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]

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    

Exo Pop Up Store Everysing Official Xoxo Promo Poster Beatles Vintage 1964 U.s. " A Hard Day's Night " 1 Sheet Movie Poster Near Mint-New Order Music Complete Large Official Promo Poster Peter SavilleRoger Waters The Wall Cinema Poster*pearl Jam *global Citizens Nyc 2015 Poster. *transformer *ames Bros. **mint**Roger Waters The Wall Cinema PosterRare Phish New Year's Eve 1995 Live At Msg Pollock Poster New YorkFoo Fighters Wrigley Field Emek Poster Cubs ChicagoPearl Jam New York City Pendleton PosterFoo Fighters Milton Keynes Poster Set By Drew Millward Sept 5 & 6, 2015Foo Fighters Poster Atlanta 10/4/15 ~ Artist Jermaine Rogers The Who Live In Hyde Park Cinema PosterMint Yardbirds It's A Beautiful Day 1968 Bg 121 Fillmore PosterPearl Jam New York City Ames Transformers PosterSex Pistols Holidays In The Sun Promo Poster,clash,punk, Jamie Reid,cd,lp,damnedPearl Jam Don Pendleton Nyc Global Citizen Festival PosterMadonna Rebel Heart Tour Live Pass PosterVtg 1977 Queen News Of The World Elektra Records Advertising Store Promo PosterVintage Kiss Ace Frehley 1977 Smoking Guitar Poster 22 X 34 Aucoin Alive Ii LpPhish Jim Pollock Kabuki PosterThe Damned - Original Concert Poster - Gravesend 1995 Fully Autographed - PunkBlue Cheer 1967 Original Concert Poster Bg-84 Fillmore AuditoriumMorrissey List Of The Lost Promo PosterPearl Jam 2015 Global Citizen New York Pop Up Shop Poster1985 Iron Maiden Original 76" X 26" Door Size Poster Derek Riggs Eddie Pearl Jam Global Citizens Nyc 2015 Poster Transformer Ames Bros. **mint**Pearl Jam 2015 Nyc Central Park Don Pendleton Poster(sold Out) + 2 StickersPearl Jam Global Citizen 2015 Poster Skyline Pendleton *mint*Mint Led Zeppelin 1969 Bg 170 Little Avacado Fillmore PosterSuper Junior Official Sm Everysing Promo Poster From "sexy, Free ~" - KyuhyunRare Family Dog #2 Poster Handbill Great Society Original Fd #2 1st King KongPearl Jam New York 2015 Central Park Pop Up Shop Transformers Ames Bros PosterPearl Jam New York Central Park Ames Poster TransformerDepeche Mode "music For The Masses" 17 X 11 Promo PosterMorrissey List Of The Lost Poster The Smiths PenguinPearl Jam Global Citizen 2015 Poster Skyline Pendleton *mint*Phish Merriweather Poster 2009 #190/800 RarePearl Jam Global Citizen 2015 Poster Skyline Pendleton *mint*Kiss Alive 1978 35 X 22 Inch Concert Poster-nice!Accept Wolf Hoffmann Peter Baltes Signed Concert Poster Japan Tour 1986 Dave Matthews Band Poster Englewood, Co Beer CanThe Black Keys Poster Print Zoltron S/n Anaheim, CaBeatles Ca 1969 "something"-"come Together" Applle Records Poster For Single1978 Grooves Presents Kiss #1 Magazine With Poster!Carter Beauford Dmb Stage Used Drum Heads, Sticks, Setlist #dave Matthews PosterGrateful Dead Fare Thee Well Official Chicago Poster Status SerigraphPearl Jam Global Citizen 2015 Poster Skyline Pendleton *mint*Vintage 1971 Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers Original Large Promo Poster 40" X 30"*rare Grateful Dead 1980 Warfield Theater Signed Printer’s Proof Poster +sketch*Pearl Jam - Trieste Italy June 22 2014 Poster - Wow Ames Bros Out Of PrintAlice In Chains Fall 2010 Poster - Autographed Cantrell, Duvall, Kinney, InezRare1971 Jim Franklin Jfkln Alternate Route Armadillo Art Print PosterFoo Fighters Wrigley Field Ames Variant Poster Numbered Edition Of 350Grateful Dead Spring Tour 1988 Peter Max PosterOfficial Phish Magnaball Water Bottle No Poster No Print Misc Dave Matthews Band Bader Feild Concert Poster 20111978 Grooves Presents Kiss Volume Two Mag With Poster!Sleep Glow In The Dark Poster/patch/sticker BundleVintage 1964 Beatles Large Original 19x53" Dell Banner Poster #02130Sun Ra Solar Arkestra Concert Poster Eclipse Jazz Ann Arbor Michigan Union 1977

Recent News: Music and Concert Posters

Source: Google News

Intrust Bank Arena celebrates two million tickets sold, honors guest
KSN-TV, October 2nd

prize package including upgraded concert tickets from the upper level to the lower level, a meet and greet with Florida Georgia Line, a commemorative ticket which was then autographed by Florida Georgia Line, a commemorative concert poster, and more...Read more

Field Notes from Harvard-Brown
Harvard Independent, October 1st

He was clad in a Hawaiian shirt and uncomfortably short shorts and a bucket hat, all of them psychedelically colored so as to lend him the general appearance of a Jefferson Airplane concert poster. An anti-narcotics campaign should have photographed...Read more

A great night of music for a great cause
Hamilton Spectator, September 30th

According to the benefit concert's poster, "Sanfilippo Syndrome is a devastating degenerative genetic disorder. Affected children are missing an essential enzyme that breaks down sugar, resulting in a buildup that affects all the organs and bones, and...Read more

Daniel Romano Has a Throwback Country Sound You Should Hear
Wide Open Country, September 30th

It's no accident many of Romano's songs are folk-country heartbreakers, however. The Canadian singer-songwriter isn't having any of contemporary country's pop-fused party anthems. No, you cold say he's a throwback. “The difference between Taylor Swift ...Read more

If Casual Sex Were a Music Festival Poster
Huffington Post (satire), September 29th

This is what casual sex would look like if it were advertised as a music festival concert poster. 2015-09-25-1443213156-5622245-SexMusicFestivalPoster.jpg. More from 10 Most Worthless College Majors · 12 Struggles Only People Who Work ...Read more

Serious Buyer Seeks Original Jim Morrison The Doors 1967 Kaleidoscope ...
Benzinga, September 28th

The Door's Ciros poster is often called the Doors Kaleidoscope Poster. It was the # 2 poster in a long series of rock concerts on the Sunset Strip. Most of the bands played at the Kaleidoscope Club, but the Doors played at Ciros. This Fillmore Era...Read more

Oct. 4 concert to feature Chinese musicians
UIndy News, September 23rd

MUS West Meets East concert poster-final Visiting Chinese musicians will collaborate with UIndy music faculty Oct. 4 in a concert to promote cross-cultural exchange and understanding. The “West Meets East” event will begin at 3 p.m. that day — the...Read more

Sea-Tac Airport hosting Pearl Jam concert poster exhibit
KIRO Seattle, May 27th

The Experience Music Project Museum unveiled a new exhibit at Sea-Tac Airport featuring Pearl Jam concert posters. Pearl Jam formed in 1990 when posters were the main way bands communicated with fans and advertised upcoming shows. They also ...Read more