Alan Freed Big Beat Concert Flyer 1950’s Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis

An authentic, vintage Alan Freed Big Beat concert handbill from 1958 at the RPI Field House in the city of Troy, N.Y.

This Alan Freed Big Beat concert slinger is highly collectable due to the fact that it features several members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The overall look of this Alan Freed Big Beat handout is quite popular with music fans and collectors, with its many rows of musicians overwhelming one with the amount of talent on this tour.

Other than the standard black & white colors, this Alan Freed Big Beat concert herald uses just two other colors, yellow and red, to create its strong eye appeal.

Most collectors point out that this Alan Freed Big Beat handbill has just about everything you’d want in a concert advertisement, with the one exception possibly being several musicians down at the bottom who had very short careers.

If a rock ’n’ roll collector is seeking a Buddy Holly handbill, this is one of the few examples they have to seek out; whereas with many more years of performing, it’s much easier to locate old Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry concert handbills.

One of this item’s strongest designs is that every single musician on this Alan Freed Big Beat concert flier has both a picture and at least one song title listed by their name.  That’s not common with such a busy field of acts on a small item like this, but I’m sure glad they went to that effort.

It’s interesting to note how this Alan Freed Big Beat show bill depicts Buddy Holly & The Crickets as two different acts, with a pair of song titles apiece and even separate photographs – with Buddy not part of the Crickets picture! That’s partly due to the way Coral Records released their 45s in the 1950s. (“That’ll Be the Day,” for example, was credited on the label simply to “The Crickets.”)

Although the bigger Alan Freed Big Beat concert poster was manufactured on rigid cardboard, this flyer was just printed on paper.

With such a strong, compelling appearance, it’s too bad that the designer for this Alan Freed Big Beat concert handout is not known. He or she has never been identified publicly, as best as I know.

This Alan Freed Big Beat leaflet looks very small compared to its big sister, the cardboard poster, with dimensions of just 6 by 9 inches.

Although no printer’s credit is given anywhere, it’s a pretty safe bet that this handbill was printed by the Murray Poster Printing Company in New York, because that’s the company which printed the Alan Freed Big Beat window card for the same tour.

If you were curious about the number of musicians taking part in this show, this Alan Freed Big Beat appearance sheet does the counting for you. That’s because it states, “17 Top Attractions, 4 Great Bands, Cast of 60,” and then on the opposite side, “60 Stars.” All of that entertainment for just $1.50, if you bought the cheapest tickets… wow!

Speaking of ticket prices, did you see the range at the top of this Alan Freed Big Beat showbill? They were priced from $1.50 to $3.00. At the least expensive ticket price, with “60 stars” in the show, it came to just 2.5 cents for each musical star! (Of course, many of those “musical stars” were just sidemen & band members.)

This Alan Freed Big Beat flyer is often referred to as a “tour blank”… the primary, colored part of it was used for the whole tour. The white strip up on the top with the concert date, venue and city is what would change from city to city on this handout advertisement. Everything from Alan Freed Presents the Big Beat All In Person Show on down was the permanent part that never changed.

The larger, matching Alan Freed Big Beat placard was also utilized as a tour blank… town-to-town information was printed into the blank area at the top.

As a dedicated collector of old rock ’n’ roll memorabilia, I was very fortunate to find this Alan Freed Big Beat concert leaflet in mint condition. Usually a poster or handbill this old has a lot of little damage.

As a music historian, I can say with confidence that there were six primary “founding fathers” of rock & roll in the ’50s… and it’s wonderful that this Alan Freed Big Beat slinger features three of them: Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly & the Crickets and “the Killer,” Jerry Lee Lewis. (The other three being Fats Domino, Elvis Presley of course, and Little Richard.)

While this handbill of mine comes from the tour stop in Troy, New York on May 6, 1958, I have yet to see an Alan Freed Big Beat concert placard – the bigger, cardboard version of this – from Troy. I’ve seen a few other cities on the tour in poster form, but not this date.

I just love the way this Alan Freed Big Beat herald says at the bottom, “Direct from Record Smashing N.Y. Paramount Engagement.” What marketing!

Alan Freed’s term “Big Beat” was used in England by the early ’60s rock groups over there… in fact, there’s even a well-known series of Beatles Big Beat concert posters from 1961-62 that used that very term in big letters on each poster. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Beatles Operation Big Beat concert poster on your wall right alongside an Alan Freed American Big Beat one?!

This Alan Freed Big Beat handbill is shown off, discussed and appraised by collector Pete Howard (805-540-0020 cell phone or pete@postercentral.com by E). As a big collector of vintage rock ’n’ roll, I pay absolute TOP DOLLAR for 1950s concert memorabilia like this.

If you’d like to see the larger version of this, an Alan Freed Big Beat poster instead of the flyer, plus a few other 1950s multi-act tour posters, just bop onto this page of my internet Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/multi-act_1950s.htm

This entry was posted in 1950s Rock ’N' Roll, Handbills & Flyers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Alan Freed Big Beat Concert Flyer 1950’s Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis

  1. I am from Cleveland, so I’m always excited to see Alan Freed stuff!

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