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]

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]

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    

Mortician Today Is The Day 2 Sided Poster Relapse Records Rare 35"x23" Death Twice Twicecoaster Lane 1 Christmas Edition Official Folded PosterKiss Japan 1970s Original Promo Only Victor Records Poster Gene Simmons - Rare!Original Sylvie Vartan Japan Promo Only 1974 (?) Tour Poster Vintage Not ReplicaPearl Jam 2008 Columbia Sc Poster * Ames Brothers Bros * The Clash Who Vultures Dave Matthews And Tim Reynolds N2 Poster: Riviera MayaDavid Sylvian/japan Perspectives Exhibition PosterGuns N Roses 2016 Wa Concert Collection. Poster, 5 Guitar Pick, Setlist, Tshirt Phish Concert Poster From May 1994 - Original And Awesome Bg BgpDave Matthews & Tim Reynolds Riviera Maya Mexico N3 Band Poster DeasMaynard James Keenan Vip Autographed Book And Poster With Bag And Puscifer Cd1 Dave & Tim Show Poster - London 3/21/2017Phish Poster 2011 Superball Ames Bros Not PollockGrateful Dead Summer Tour Poster 1995, Michael Everett #'d EdWeen Aragon Chicago Poster Print Nights 1 & 2 WelkerPhish Poster Worcester 2010Giant Led Zeppelin Ii 41"x58" PosterBruce Springsteen E St Band Wash, Dc Concert Poster Ltd Ed River Tour 493/500Kiss Peter Criss Pearl Drums Promo Poster. Vintage Promo Style 18 X 24 Bob Marley Original Japan Promo Only 1976 Poster Official Used More Listed!Ween Chicago Concert Poster Welker 3/17/17 St Patricks Day Aragon BallroomRare Signed Dave Filoni Asoka PosterPhish Jim Pollock Madison Square Garden 2013 Limited Edition Le Poster Print MsgPhish David Welker 2013 Reading, Pa Limited Edition Le PosterZz Top-orig. 1976 Concert Program Pack-complete W/poster, Stickers & Texas Buck!12 Inch Single Iron Maiden Stranger In A Strange Land Japan Promo Obi PosterLynyrd Skynyrd Original Japan Promo Only 1970s Poster Official - More In Stock!Tori Amos Autographed Concert Poster 2007Yellowcard Final Show PosterMadonna X-static Process Museum PosterDave Matthews Band Poster Deer Creek 2017Spike Jones Poster 1948 Boxing StyleWeen Chicago Welker Concert Poster 3/16/17 Aragon BallroomTrey Anastasio Of Phish Band Tour Poster Fall 1999 Blue MountedBeatles Klaus Voormann Signed Poster " Revolver 50 Birth Of An Icon Grammy EventThe Smiths Girlfriend In A Coma Poster 60 X 40 Morrissey Slight Damage*the Smiths Sheila Take A Bow Original 1987 Promo Poster Rough Trade Morrissey*The Smiths Girlfriend In A Coma Original 1987 Promo Poster Rough Trade MorrisseyFoo Fighters Dave Grohl Birthday Forum Poster 1/10/2015 #261/500 #tommy606Neurosis Times Of Grace 1999 Original Limited Heavy Card Stock Matte PosterPearl Jam Prague 2000 Poster Pro. Framed Mint! Ames Bros. Ultra Rare! ⚡️Grateful Dead Europe Tour 1981 Stanley Mouse Concert Poster Original 27"x22"Panic At The Disco Death Of A Bachelor 2017 Nyc Tour Poster Rare Kiss Rare 1978 Campus Craft Love Gun Cubes Repop Poster 24 X 36The Misfits "3 Hits From Hell" Poster Danzig (over 25+ Years Old)Dmb Dave Matthews Band Gorge 2015 Weekend Poster Deas Manifest Peace Kiss Creatures Of The Night Poster 1982Nine Inch Nails Nin Wave Goodbye 2009 Tour Concert Poster Aragon ChicagoEric Clapton Los Angeles Poster Litho Signed By Artist - 2017 Le/600Widespread Panic PosterAriana Grande Dangerous Woman Tour Signed / Autographed Official Tour PosterNine Inch Nails Nin Wave Goodbye 2009 Tour Concert PosterWidespread Panic Poster & Hat - Nashville, Dec. 30th, 2016Evanescence Ltd. Edition Signed Amy Lee PosterSuper Rare Eric B. & Rakim Paid In Full Record Store Promo Rap Hip Hop Poster! $Elvis Presley Original "charro" 1-sheet Movie Poster 1969 Near MintType O Negative August 20 1996 12x36 " Advance Promo Cd Store Poster [r209]Phish Poster Print Alpine Valley 8-9-15 Brad Klausen Numbered Free ShippingBuffalo Springfield And Charles Lloyd Concert Poster By Salzer 1968Dave Matthews - Limited Numbered Concert Poster - Hammersmith Apollo 20/03/2017