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’Keefe, 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 ...

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]

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    

311 Blue Grassroots Mit Tree Poster Ap #32/50Original 1968 Cream W/ Eric Clapton Fillmore Era Vintage Concert Poster Aor 3.44Grateful Dead Golden Road To Unlimited Devotion 1967 Fan Club Signed Poster1968 Original Family Dog Psychedelic Poster Velvet Underground Iron Butterfly1967 Original Jim Salzer Psychedelic Poster The Seeds Moniters Chocolate Watch1967 Original Rick Griffin Psychedelic Joint Show Poster Rare Moscovo Mouse WesIron Butterfly 1969 Original Concert Poster Bg-179-op-1 Fillmore West BillgrahamPhish Welker Alpharetta, Ga Foil Poster 8/3/14 August 3, 2014 #'d Signed - MintKiss Army "double Platinum" Kit - Complete W/poster - Aucoin - 1978Pearl Jam Poster - DKillermeters Rare Original 1979 Unused Tour Poster / Mod / Punk /scooter/the Jam1967 Original Wes Wilson Psychedelic Poster Joint Show Utopian Blend Moscovo EtcOriginal 1956 Johnny Cash Trio Boxing Style Vintage Concert Poster311 Charlotte Owl Poster1967 Sierra Club Wilderness Conference Fillmore Era Poster Aor 2.3651967 Original Family Dog Psychedelic Poster The Doors Butterfly Lady Vibrate ArtPhish Poster Set (3) - Vegas Pollock April 2004 Thomas & Mack Matching NumbersUmphrey's Mcgee Poster Oakland 14 Official S/n Silkscreen Chuck Sperry PanicPhish Concert Poster Print 1995 Arminski Not PollockSex Pistols Rare Original Grnrs Promo Poster 1979!!Rare Phish Fall Tour 2010 Marq Spusta Poster Providence Signed 365/650311 Summer 2014 Nyc Tour Poster - Maxx242 - S/n Signed & Numbered - X/211 Print1968 Original Jim Salzer Psychedelic Poster Taj Mahal Vanilla Fudge Stone Poneys Dave Matthews Band Poster Hershey Pa 2009Procul Harum 1968 Original Concert Poster Bg-143-op-1 Fillmore West Bill Graham100% Original Septic Death Burial Poster By Pushead! Metallica Danzig Misfits1967 Original Family Dog Psychedelic Poster Sphinx Dance Miller Blues King TutDave Matthews Band Poster Alpine Valley 2005 Moon Very Rare 400 Made DmbOriginal "music At Newport" John Coltrane Boxing Style Concert PosterPhish Poster Noblesville Indiana Deer Creek 8/12,13 2010 By Methane Not Pollock 1966 Vintage Kama Sutra Records Family Dog Poster Snake Lady Franz Von StuckNirvana Rare Original Large Flyer / Poster From 05/13/90 At Duffy's In NebraskaPhish Vegas Poster Pollock Queen April 16, 2004 404/1000100% Original Samhain Initium Season Of The Dead Tour Poster The Misfits Danzig311 Summer 2014 Nyc Tour Poster - Maxx242 - S/n Signed & Numbered - X/211 Print1968 Original Keiichi Tanaami Exhibition Poster No More War 2 Sides Seibu Dept1968 Original Family Dog Psychedelic Poster Fugs Flip The Bird Anti Vietnam Art Dave Matthews Band Poster Hershey Pa 2012Nine Inch Nails Soundgarden Miles Tsang Limited Edition Tour Poster A/p SignedPhish Madison Square Garden Ames Clinch Limited Poster Nye 12/31/1998 943/1500Autographed Kiss Worldwide Tourbook Alive 1997 Signed By All 4 With Giant Poster311 2013 Unity Tour Vip Poster Clockwork Orange Themed Not Day Cruise MunkSex Pistols Rare Original Nmtb Promo Poster 1977!!Widespread Panic Ain't Life Grand Poster Flat Signed By All The Original MembersOriginal 1965-1966 Four Tops Motown Promotional Boxing Style PosterDave Matthews Band Las Vegas 2009 Jack Of Spades Concert Poster Signed #/800 Dave Matthews Band Poster Nats Park Washington, DcPhish Vegas Poster Pollock Jack April 15, 2004 612/1000The Clash English Beat "combat Rock" 1982 Santa Barbara Bowl Rock Concert PosterBeatles / Very Nice Lot Of 22 Beatle Albums Bonus Cd's- Albums & Poster 311 Pittsburgh 7/14/14 Poster Xx/30 S/n Ap Edition Jeff Soto Original 1983 The Ramones At The Hollywood Palladium Concert PosterSelena Quintanilla Perez 1994 Amor Prohibido Super Rare Emi Latin Promo. PosterElectric Flag 1968 Original Concert Poster Fd-104 Avalon Ballroom Family Dog1967 Original Family Dog Psychedelic Poster Chicago Fire Taj Mahal Moscoso Blues311 Boca Raton Nathaniel Deas Ap Poster Doodled Dave Matthews Band Poster Jiffy Lube Live Bristow, Va 2012Phish Merriweather Post Pavillion Mpp Poster Print 7/26-27/14 2014 Columbia MdVtg 1970s Atlantic City Nj Jazz Festival Poster Buddy Rich Ray Charles Old Orig.Dr. Feelgood Wilko Johnson 1976 Vintage Original Concert Poster Roxy

Recent News: Music and Concert Posters

Source: Google News

Propaganda meets vintage in work of Forest Lake artist
Forest Lake Lowdown, August 18th

Also on his bucket list? Someday exhibiting his work at the San Diego Comic Convention, moving into the concert poster market and completing a movie poster for Mondo, the Austin, Texas-based shop that creates limited-edition screen-printed movie posters...Read more

Music legend Kenny Rogers looks back on his illustrious career
MusicRadar.com, August 18th

a framed award as long as a dinner table recognizing 12 times platinum sales of his Greatest Hits album, a wooden tambourine like those he tosses out during shows, more than one concert poster and such period-embodying stage clothes as a bejeweled, ...Read more

Haggs Bag: Which defenseman will B's move?
Comcast SportsNet New England, August 14th

He has a Batman shirt with a detachable cape on the back, he's got an A-Z Star Wars alphabet blanket in his play room and he's got a Max Rebo Band concert poster framed in his nursery. He's also got a Nerf Bruins hockey stick that he swings around like...Read more

Music festival provides “soundtrack for WEG”
Horsetalk, August 13th

weg-music-poster It won't just be horses at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in Normandy, the musos have also hit town. For eight nights during the Games, the Alltech Music Festival in the Games Village has “musical entertainment for all ages”, ...Read more

One Direction's Louis Tomlinson Blasted By Cruel Poster At Concert ...
Yahoo Celebrity UK, August 13th

The 1D fandom went into MAJOR angry mode on Tuesday after a concert poster blasting Louis Tomlinson leaked. HOW. COULD. YOU? One concert-goer, who was clearly not a fan of the floppy-haired pop God (WTAF?!) held up a very controversial sign, ...Read more

Fireworks poster is Taylor made ...
Fife Today, August 9th

An art-loving Kirkcaldy girl has won a competition that has seen her design put on display across Edinburgh. Taylor Holland (12) entered the Virgin Money Fireworks Concert poster competition after seeing an advert for it and knew she could put her art...Read more

Louisville's Forecastle Grows Into Major Festival
Cleveland Scene Weekly, July 21st

Local restaurants, food trucks and breweries provided much of the food and beer throughout the grounds, while an area devoted to regional concert poster artists and screen printers was an excellent distraction to the music. But what brought most people...Read more

Woman steals rare music poster from party
Stuff.co.nz, July 21st

Woman steals rare music poster from party. VICKI ANDERSON. Last updated 13:21 22/07/2014. John Grenell. Kirk Hargreaves. CELEBRATING: John Grenell's 70th was marked at Churchill's bar in Sydenham on Sunday. Stolen John Grenell poster. Supplied...Read more