Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps Concert Poster 1950s Rock ’n’ Roll

A genuine, original Gene Vincent window card used to promote his concert in Coquille, OR on June 6, 1958.

This “tour blank” poster was designed to be used at many different shows on the tour, with each stop along the way getting their own unique information up in the white area at the top.

Tilghman (pronounced “TILL-man”) designed and printed this Gene Vincent poster board.

Its dimensions are 14 by 22 inches, very much the standard size of the day for these, and it was manufactured on cardboard.

Notice how this Gene Vincent appearance poster promotes only the star, and not any opening acts… zero are mentioned. On tours like this, local groups usually provided the support, changing from city to city.

Tilghman liked this “stand-alone” concept with its concert posters… just the headliner, nobody else listed. Probably very effective, because only the stars sell tickets, not the warm-up groups.

Tilghman used a bright, florescent red color on their Gene Vincent tour poster, very much an attention-grabber.

All they needed to do was add a big splash of that color, and their otherwise B&W presentation became a very colorful affair.

My favorite part of this Gene Vincent billboard is the half-a-dozen song titles given in various willy-nilly fashion… it’s just extremely eye-catching.

Those songs are surrounding Gene’s happy face, presented right smack in the center in “floating-head” style… together, it makes for a fabulous presentation.

And it’s no coincidence that his most famous song, “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” gets the most prominent position on this Gene Vincent window poster – in the upper left, right by his pompadour.

And then Vincent’s only other national Top 20 hit, “Lotta Loving,” is listed directly below that… so the Tilghman lay-out person really had a handle on his biggest hits when designing this.

Another one of the song titles on this Gene Vincent concert placard has quite a misrepresentation… see the title “Bi Bickey Bi”? It’s supposed to be, ““Bee-I-Bickey-Bye, Bo-Bo-Go.” No wonder they shortened it! But they also messed it up in the process.

Directly above that is “Blue Jean Bop,” which was a Top 20 hit over in England two years earlier, but missed the charts altogether in the U.S., surprisingly.

Let’s examine the venue info printed at the top of this Gene Vincent tour placard. I’m talking about the white area that is blank when the poster is first struck, and then filled in with a second, small press run for every date on the tour.

First it starts by saying, “Community Hall – Coquille.” Most people in the world don’t know how Coquille is even pronounced, let alone where it’s located. (It’s “co-KEEL.”) Which really underscores the point that this was a local advertising piece, distributed only within a certain distance from the town. So it would’ve been silly for them to put “Oregon” on there.

Likewise for the date given… “Friday night, June 6.” Remember, this Gene Vincent ticket poster was designed to exist for just a few weeks… so putting the year on there would’ve been asking people to react, “Well, DUH!”

And then it proclaims, “Show and Dance” – not “Concert.” Back in the 1950s, teenagers loved to dance to the early rock ’n’ roll acts, interacting with the opposite sex. It would be another 10 years before most rock show-dances morphed into sit-down concerts, as patrons began listening and studying their rock heroes rather than dance to them.

Finishing off the venue information on this Gene Vincent concert announcement is the simply stated “From 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.” Hey, at least they got the “PM” and “AM” correct… I can’t tell you how many old concert posters I’ve seen that carelessly state things like “from 9 to 1 PM.”

It amounts to a very simple, uncluttered presentation of all the important info that customers needed to know, and nothing more. Trust me, this was very deliberate by Tilghman – you only have people’s attention for a minute.

That being said, it’s a little surprising that this Gene Vincent boxing-style concert poster doesn’t give the ticket price. That’s always a big factor for teenagers, when deciding whether or not to attend something.

Since there was no reserved seating at a dance-oriented show like this, usually there were just two price levels… in advance, and at the door (or day of show). Those price options are given on a million old concert posters like this.

A subtle but fun element of this Gene Vincent street sign is the multitude of musical notes and little stars spread throughout the red area. They’re not what you focus on, but they greatly enhance the piece’s overall visual impact.

This poster design template was used by Tilghman for many other touring acts of the mid-to-late-’50s, and I show you photos of a couple right here in my video. Or, to see a Jerry Lee Lewis specimen using this exact same template, just take a peek at this page right here on my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/rocknroll.htm

ERRATA: in my video, I accidentally state that Vincent was in the Navy from 1952 to ’58. I should have said from ’52 only until ’55.

This Gene Vincent concert poster is delightfully shown off by Pete Howard of San Luis Obispo, Calif. That’s me, and feel free to email me at pete@postercentral.com or give me a ring at 805.540-0020. And please remember that I will pay TOP DOLLAR IN THE HOBBY for this Vincent poster from any stop along the tour, or any other vintage rock & roll window card. Thank you!

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