Charlatans Poster 1965 Virginia City, Nev. – The Seed

An early, fun Charlatans window card from their debut at the Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada with a given date of June 1-15, 1965.

But actually, those dates were premature on this first, initial printing of the poster… opening night actually occurred three weeks later, on June 21, for which a second poster was designed.

This Amazing Charlatans psychedelic poster has been given its own nickname, “The Seed,” because it’s such a seminal poster in the history of 1960’s San Francisco concert-poster art.

Simply put, it’s considered the first psychedelic concert poster ever, which is quite a badge of honor, given all that would follow over the next few years.

One of the coolest features of this Charlatans window poster is how the five band members have their first names right by their faces. All except one, that is… the man in the middle, between “San Francisco” and “Dan,” has a piano keyboard where his name should be.

That would be keyboardist Mike Ferguson, but the trouble was, the name “Mike” was already taken on the poster, by lead guitarist Mike Wilhelm, top center. So Ferguson cleverly used his musical instrument to distinguish himself from the other Mike on the poster.

In addition to the individual faces, you have the full-band drawing in the bottom half of this Amazing Charlatans concert sign, with the guys all playing away. For me, the funniest elements of this drawing are the piano player’s extra long arms, and the small registered trademark symbol on the drum head! I’m guessing Ferguson put it there facetiously.

I should mention here that the other band members were leader George Hunter (top left), drummer Dan Hicks (middle far right) and Charlatans bassist and co-founder Richard Olsen (below Hicks).

Keyboardist Ferguson is credited with designing all the intricate art for this Charlatans tour poster, including the five portraits.

And then the band’s most visible member, Hunter, came up with the distinct lettering used for the Charlatans’ name across the center in big letters. The name is also adorned with a small “registered trademark” symbol; talk about confidence you were going to make it!

Measuring just 10 x 14 inches, the Amazing Charlatans in-person poster is pretty small in size, but collectors still consider it a poster, not a handbill.

Its complicated, swirling artwork is popular with fans of psychedelic concert-poster art, and was very influential on the Bay Area poster artists who would start designing their own advertisements within just a few months.

This first printing of the Charlatans street poster was done using blue ink all the way through, and carries the incorrect June 1-15 dates; the second printing was done with black ink, and correctly states “Opening June 21.” For comparison, I show you an image of that second printing in my video.

The band ended up playing the Red Dog Saloon for six weeks in the summer of 1965, which means their historic run ended during the weekend of July 31-August 1.

It’s historically humorous to point out that this Amazing Charlatans billboard states under their name, “Direct from San Francisco.” By most accounts, the group had never played together live on a stage before!

Then there’s the banner under their group drawing, “The Limit of the Marvelous.” Designer Ferguson has stated in interviews that some elements of the Seed poster were derived from another, foreign poster that he happened to stumble across.

Unquestionably, the most controversial feature of this Charlatans appearance poster is the swastika down in the lower right-hand corner. Ferguson admits to doing that, but never explained why. A German swastika back then was considered a harmless historical doodle, compared to the extreme political incorrectness is carries today.

I find it interesting that Ferguson and Hunter didn’t sign their poster as the graphic designers, which would become commonplace going forward starting with Alton Kelley and continuing on with Stanley Mouse, Wes Wilson and virtually every other artist.

This Amazing Charlatans concert advertisement is displayed for your enjoyment by serious poster collector Pete Howard. That’s me, and I can be contacted via pete@postercentral.com or by ringing 805.540-0020. As a serious collector, I will PAY TOP DOLLAR for this Charlatans Seed poster, in any condition!

To see a few other mid-sixties psych concert posters of interest, please check out this page right here on my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/psychedelic.htm

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Biggest Show of Stars Concert Poster – 1960s R&B Soul Music Stars

A beautiful, collectible Dorton Arena concert poster featuring the Biggest Show of Stars for 1965 in Raleigh, North Carolina on May 20 of that year.

This highly attractive Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 poster board contains a big sampling of R&B musicians from the mid-sixties… many of whom had success on the pop charts as well.

But really, it’s the bright, Day-Glo colors here that first impress you… it’s simply gorgeous with its blue, pink, green, black and white coloring.

Globe Posters out of Baltimore is the company that designed and printed this Dorton Arena window card. Their credit appears down at the poster’s bottom.

I’m especially impressed the way Globe used blue ink to convey the venue information found at the top of their Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 street sign. Black is the color most commonly used up there, but the blue hue adds a fifth color and really helps “set off” that portion of the poster.

It was not unusual for Globe to manufacture these Dorton Arena concert advertisements for the famed, odd-shaped venue… many other Dorton posters exist, and I’ve already blogged a few of them prior to this.

Then you have the talent line-up on this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 show poster… what variety, what hit-making prowess! Just as it states, “13 Big Acts – 2 Bands – All In Person.”

Those two “bands” were the Joe Tex Orchestra and Jamo Thomas Orchestra, which are literally the bottom-most words found on the poster. The very term “Orchestra,” held over from the early days of post-war R&B and rock ’n’ roll, was becoming quite outdated by this point in time.

This Dorton Arena in-person poster is comprised entirely of African American musicians touring the southern United States, but as already pointed out, many of the stars crossed over to the pop charts as well – especially The Drifters, The Impressions and Betty Everett.

For poster collectors like me, this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 broadside marked the end of an era… 1965 was the last year that Super Enterprises ran their Biggest Show of Stars concert series. The shows commenced in 1957 and wrapped up this year, with several showcases usually occurring every year.

Measuring 22 by 28 inches, this Spectacular Stars of ’65 poster board is called a “jumbo” within the concert business, and in fact within the hobby as well.

Notice all of the ticket information presented at the top of this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 placard (as mentioned, in blue ink). Tickets could be bought at Thiem’s Record Shop and the Village Pharmacy Camera Shop in Raleigh, plus a local record-store chain called The Record Bar in both Durham and Chapel Hill.

You’ll notice that it says “Spring Edition” in the upper right-hand corner of this Dorton Arena tour poster. There were usually fall editions of the BSOS as well, and occasional winter ones, too. But I’ve never seen a summer one.

Don’t you just love the amazing colors on this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 window display? The pink and green are so pleasing to the eye to begin with, and then when you creatively add black, white & blue, it really takes off.

This is also true for a sister to this poster, the Supersonic Attractions’ Spectacular Stars of ’65 placard… bright pink is used to sterling effect on that poster, too.

I guess you could say the Impressions are top-billed on this Dorton Arena billboard, with their upper left-hand position. This would be because they had just finished a run of seven consecutive Top 20 pop hits.

But nobody is really singled out for headliner status here, other than getting into the top row.  This was common with caravan tours in the ’50s and ’60s… promoters didn’t want to give one act the edge over everyone else.

Gene Chandler is right next to the Impressions on this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 window poster. In hindsight, you and I would probably prefer to see his classic, “Duke of Earl,” given on the poster, but instead we get his current hit of the day, “Nothing Can Stop Me.”

And then check out Jerry Butler… he got three song titles on this Dorton Arena concert placard. But there’s a catch… the two song titles in the little white box were actually duets with the gal below him, Betty Everett, which is why they’re part of her graphic space, too.

Speaking of Ms. Everett, her “Shoop-Shoop Song” listing (abbreviated by one word) is one of my favorite parts of this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 event poster. It was a Top 10 pop hit in 1964, and is still heard frequently on oldies radio to this day.

Then you have the Drifters, holding down the bull’s-eye middle spot on this Dorton Arena appearance poster. Their presence here is somewhat nostalgic, as “At the Club” would be the last hit record (Top 10 R&B) of the group’s legendary career.

And in a passing of the baton, right below the Drifters is Walter Jackson, and “Suddenly I’m (All) Alone” was the first hit of his career, which progressed well into the 1980s.

And then right above Joe Tex, there’s Billy Butler and the Chanters on this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 show placard. Yep, Billy was Jerry’s brother, but didn’t have nearly the success that Jerry did.

And then there’s the “sleeper” on this Dorton Arena ticket poster: Miss Tammy Montgomery. Just a teenager when this concert occurred, she would soon get married, use the name Tammi Terrell, and record six hit duets with Marvin Gaye over the next few years.

And then isn’t it funny that Joe Tex is bottom-billed on the Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 tour placard… because 1965 was the biggest year of Joe’s career, at least on Billboard’s R&B charts. He somehow managed to chart seven Top 20 rhythm & blues hits this year… whew!

So at least Joe’s bottom-billed position is neutralized somewhat by the banner “Extra Added Attraction.” With a year like he had, I would certainly hope so!

I know this is minor, but the words “Globe Poster – Baltimore” are printed in an unusual fashion at the bottom of this Dorton Arena street sign. Usually Globe’s credit is centered at the bottom of a poster, but in this case, the design mandates that it be shifted off to the left a little bit, and in smaller print than usual.

You might think it’s crazy to focus on such a small detail like that, but Globe was a very important poster-maker in the 1950s and 60s, so every little design variation is usually met with great interest by us collectors.

Although originally printed on pure white, over the years, florescent lights or direct sunlight tanned or “toned” this Dorton Arena concert sign.  Still, the poster maintains all of its wickedly cool original appearance, so no harm.

Matter of fact, this Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 street poster is in much better shape than many I’ve seen over the years, especially given its age of a half-century plus.

Keep in mind that this Dorton Arena concert announcement is only one in a long series of posters for the BSOS stage shows.  And like this one, most of them are highly attractive.

As always, the Biggest Show of Stars for ’65 fence poster is shown to you by me, collector Pete Howard… and I can be reached by email at pete@postercentral.com or (805) 540.0020 (phone). I will pay TOP DOLLAR, BAR NONE for this or any of the other Biggest Show of Stars original concert posters that I don’t already own. Thank you.

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Meet the Beatles Record Store Display – Capitol Promo 1964

A fun & collectible Meet the Beatles display from January 1964, produced by their record label, Capitol Records.

This item was made to perch on record store countertops and lure attention toward this new English phenomenon, and their first records released by Capitol.

For starters, here’s the primary text lifted from this Meet the Beatles standup. It says:

“BRITAIN’S ‘BEATLEMANIA’ HAS SPREAD TO AMERICA! On Television: Jack Paar Show (NBC-TV)! Ed Sullivan Show (CBS-TV)! Walter Cronkite News (CBS-TV)! Huntley-Brinkley News (NBC-TV!)

“Featured in Time, Life, Newsweek and newspapers everywhere! Now HEAR the performances that have made the Beatles the most exciting vocal group in English history!”

All of the text found on this Meet the Beatles retail display is in red, to (obviously) grab peoples’ attention.

In fact, only the pictures and Capitol’s oval logo are black in color.

It’s funny to note that this Meet the Beatles merchandising display shows 12 Fab Four faces in toto… three pictures with all four B’s in each one.

On top there’s the big, air-jumping picture, and then you add to that the cover of their first Capitol album, Meet the Beatles, and their first Capitol single, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

I find it interesting that George, John and Paul are holding their instruments across the top of this Meet the Beatles counter display, but Ringo, oddly, is not holding his much smaller drum sticks.

But I’m sure at the direction of band manager Brian Epstein, all four boys are wearing sports jackets, skinny ties and their trademark “Beatle boots.”

There’s a lot of action crammed into this little Meet the Beatles cardboard display with easel attached, but action is what you wanted in the swinging ’60s. Plus, the Beatles were brand new and needed the spotlight.

What’s hilarious is that not all of the news outlets named on this placard had nice things to say about the Fab Four; some of them were actually quite critical. But Capitol was just following the old saw that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

It’s odd the way ABC-TV is missing from this Meet the Beatles 3-D display. CBS and NBC get two mentions apiece, so I guess ABC was simply slow to catch on.

But Time, Life and Newsweek were the best-known weekly newsmagazines, although Look and the Saturday Evening Post were right up there, too, so I guess they hadn’t done Beatle stories yet, either.

This Meet the Beatles retail countertop display has been prolifically counterfeited over the years. The original shown here has somewhat of a collector’s value, but the bootleg has no collector’s value at all.

It’s easy to tell the counterfeits: they have black words down below instead of the original red, so that’s quite a difference. Also, the guys’ Beatle boots blend with the big red letters on the original, but are hidden behind those red letters (“The,” “Beatles!”) on the reproduction.

Another thing to look for is the easel on the back; the original Meet the Beatles point-of-purchase retail display has the easel on the back, whereas the bootlegs have no easel at all.

You have to know these things because both the original and the reproduction are of the same material, and measure pretty much the exact same size.

Speaking of which, this Meet the Beatles in-store display is constructed of heavy cardboard, and measures 14 by 20 inches in size.

You have to remember that there weren’t a lot of record stores back in 1964, so this was most likely used by drug stores & department stores more than anywhere else. Maybe musical instrument stores, too.

This Meet the Beatles Capitol promo sign is displayed and explained by long-time Fabs collector Peter Howard. That’s me, and I can be reached thru pete@postercentral.com on the Internet, or by calling 805.540-0020 on the phone.  I will pay you TOP DOLLAR for this collectible placard or any early Beatles promotional materials like this. Thank you.

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Jefferson Airplane Window Card 1967 Santa Venetia Armory

An early, historic Jefferson Airplane concert poster from the Santa Venetia Armory in San Rafael, California on Jan. 26, 1967.

This show fell right on the cusp of the transition between female Airplane vocalists Signe Anderson and Grace Slick.

Grace had been in the group just a couple of months when this Jefferson Airplane poster board was first drawn up. The band’s picture on the poster includes her, reflecting that recent change.

However, seven of the eight song titles found on the poster are from the band’s 1966 debut LP, which featured Signe, of course, instead of Grace.

Notice how it says “Take Off! – 3 Full Hours” across the top of this Jefferson Airplane appearance poster. I don’t need to tell you that’s a play on the title of the band’s initial LP waxing, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off.

The opening act at this concert was The Morning Glory, and lights were done by the Fun Co.

You’ll also notice that it says “New Release – ‘My Best Friend’” in larger type on this Jefferson Airplane show poster. That was the very first single from the group’s soon-to-be-released sophomore album, Surrealistic Pillow.

Unfortunately, that 45 went nowhere on the charts, but its follow-up, “Somebody to Love,” became an anthem of sorts for the Summer of Love in 1967.

So I sure would’ve loved it if this Jefferson Airplane in-person poster had “Somebody to Love” in place of “My Best Friend,” but that’s OK, this poster still has a ton of coolness.

We’re lucky to get all those song titles as it is… it just about sets the record for number of songs that I’ve ever seen on a rock-concert poster.

And a couple of them are pretty important songs to boot, which greatly help boost the appeal of this Jefferson Airplane billboard. “It’s No Secret” was a key underground hit from the band’s earliest days, and “Let’s Get Together” was turned into an anthem of sorts by the Youngbloods.

Fans of Airplane founder Marty Balin undoubtedly love this poster, because he’s so well-represented as a lead vocalist on most of the song titles listed here.

This Jefferson Airplane concert placard was constructed on heavy cardboard and measures a bit larger than the standard 14×22-inch size.

In that way, it’s pretty unusual. The majority of concert posters for the JA in the sixties were of the psychedelic variety, printed on paper – such as all the Bill Graham and Family Dog ones. However, this is a typical Santa Venetia Armory window card… every one from that venue looked similar (that is, boxing style) in 1966-67.

The picture of the band on this Jefferson Airplane event poster is a key element, because it’s an outtake from the photo session that produced the cover of their classic Surrealistic Pillow.

That photo shoot must have just taken place, because Grace had joined the group the previous October, and the poster was probably drawn up and printed in December.

This Jefferson Airplane telephone-pole poster represents the point in time when Bill Graham took over management of the band, perhaps even this month, I believe.

So I’m guessing that Graham was the driving force behind the listing of so many ticket locations found at the bottom. Bill was, after all, Mr. Marketer, and you know he would settle for nothing less than a sellout.

In fact, all pertinent details about the concert are printed in red at the bottom of this Jefferson Airplane concert sign. That includes the city (San Rafael), the venue (Santa Venetia Armory), the ticket price, the ages allowed (all ages), the number of tickets being sold (1,200), and about a dozen different locations where you could buy the tickets.

And at the very bottom, in fine print, it credits Tilghman as the printer and gives their street address in Oakland, plus their phone number. Tilghman is one of my favorite concert-poster printers of the era, and their placards were always done on cardboard, not paper.

One thing this Jefferson Airplane ticket poster wasn’t is a “tour blank” – it was not used for multiple shows in different towns. It was strictly a one-show poster, produced by the promoters, Ralph & Al Pepe.

The Pepe brothers promoted a substantial number of rock concerts at the Santa Venetia Armory in the mid-’60s, including Big Brother & the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead.

This Jefferson Airplane street sign is talked up and made over by long-time collector Pete Howard, which is me, and I can be reached via pete@postercentral.com or by calling 805-540-0020. Being a serious collector, I will pay TOP DOLLAR indeed for this very poster, or any one of a number of early JA concert posters.

If you’d like to see some more historic, collectible rock posters here on my Web site, just head over to this page: http://www.postercentral.com/rock.htm

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Big Mama Thornton Concert Poster 1950s with Johnny Ace – Beautiful Graphics

A vintage, original Big Mama Thornton window card from the early fifties, with the legendary Johnny Ace headlining the bill.

You don’t see many Big Mama Thornton advertisements like this because she simply didn’t tour very much, and when she did, the posters were seldom saved.

The same scarcity holds true for a Johnny Ace placard like this, because he was tragically killed the very next year (1954).

This poster was manufactured on rigid cardboard in order to withstand the weather elements outside.

As was standard for the day, this Big Mama Thornton tour poster has dimensions of 14 x 22”.

As you can see at the top, the show occurred on Friday, July 10 (1953), at a Legion Hall… which I’m guessing was in Kansas City, Missouri.

Far and away, the most striking feature of this Johnny Ace in-person poster is its gorgeous design, which is almost too good to be true.

The large playing card that dominates the poster – the ace of diamonds – is a great play on Johnny Ace’s name, and is a visual home run.

And the colors they used… red and yellow are the two hues which most attract the human eye, and this designer knew it. When those two colors are used in conjunction with black, plus the poster’s white background, this Big Mama Thornton billboard just sings as much as the musicians did!

I love the way both their heads are floating, without necks, plus they’re both looking at us and smiling. It’s subtle, but very inviting.

Both musicians were so important that, although this is considered primarily a Johnny Ace poster board, a lot of collectors and historians would consider this first and foremost a Willie Mae Thornton concert poster.

It’s all about “Hound Dog,” which she didn’t write, but she originated. But the hit was so influential that she was known as “The Hound Dog Gal,” which is says right down there under her name.

That’s another thing to take note of: This Big Mama Thornton show poster has cool wording all over the place. They were put there to sell tickets back in 1953, but for collectors present day, they add tremendously to the fun and appeal.

I’m not talking about the factual venue information, given at the top. I’m talking about all the other fun words down in the color portion of the poster: song titles, record companies and general hyperbole.

For example, this Johnny Ace broadside says “Piano Wizard, Vocal Star” right alongside his name.  Probably not necessary, but a good selling point!

Likewise with Big Mama: there’s “The Exciting Blues Shouter” directly above her name. I love it when poster designers felt it was necessary to “explain” an entertainer! Heck, even early Elvis Presley concert posters sometimes called him “the Atomic-Powered Singer.”

All of these words, of course, were used because this Big Mama Thornton window display had one quick moment to grab your attention, before you strolled on past it. It was created strictly to sell, sell, SELL!

And what better way to do that than to utilize action words such as “wizard,” “shouter” and “exciting.” I’m always surprised that more old concert posters didn’t do this… it’s not that common.

Another strong element in the design of this Johnny Ace show placard is the various fonts and type sizes used.  Under Johnny’s photo, see how they change throughout: “Piano Wizard / Vocal Star / Every Record A Hit Record! / “My Song” / “Cross My Heart” / Duke Recording Star.”

Throughout those 17 words, several different fonts and type sizes are used. I think that at least subconsciously, it really helped to hold a customer’s attention.

Duke/Peacock was a very successful R&B record company out of Houston, TX, so it’s cool to see that both of those labels are name-checked on this Big Mama Thornton event poster.  And in both cases, the artists are called “stars,” which was not an exaggeration.

As you can imagine, record collectors love it when the labels are given on old concert posters like this. Especially cool labels like Duke/Peacock, Atlantic and Sun.

Let’s examine the venue information of this Johnny Ace concert placard, up at the top. That’s where the show details are conveyed.

Notice that it was a dance, not just a sit-down concert. The venue is given as just “Legion Hall,” which doesn’t help us much, because there were thousands of them across America. But based on the ticket-location information, I deduced that this is probably from Kansas City.

As in most cases with these posters, the year isn’t given in the venue info; it just says, “Friday, July 10.” But we know it was 1953 by using a perpetual calendar.

And then this Big Mama Thornton window poster tells us that tickets cost $1.35 in advance and $1.75 on the last day.

It lists two locations in town where ducats were being sold. It’s from this information that I determined the poster was most likely from Kansas City.

So was this a true co-headlining bill? You betcha. Two of the songs listed on this Johnny Ace appearance poster, Big Mama’s “Hound Dog” and Johnny’s “My Song,” topped Billboard’s R&B chart for two months apiece!

And then Johnny’s “Cross My Heart,” also shown on the poster, was a #3 R&B hit earlier in 1953.

The E.J. Warner poster printing company needs to take a bow for the awesome appearance of this Big Mama Thornton tour placard. They were a poster-manufacturing outfit located in New York City.

Unfortunately, the individual designers and typesetters who laid out these old placards toiled in obscurity. I’ve never heard even one designer’s name being identified, especially from the rhythm & blues genre.

This Johnny Ace telephone-pole poster is displayed and lectured on in depth by Peter J. Howard, long-time poster expert and collector. I can be reached by using 805-540-0020 or pete@postercentral.com. And yes, I will PAY TOP DOLLAR, INDEED, for a copy of this poster or any similar ones from the era.

If you’d like to see a fun, strikingly similar Big Mama Thornton boxing-style concert poster from the following year, 1954, also with Johnny Ace headlining, just step on over to: http://www.postercentral.com/rhythmnblues.htm

Posted in **All Posters, 1950s Rock ’N' Roll, Blues, Soul and R&B | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments