An original, authentic Hank Williams window card from Canton, Ohio on January 1, 1953 – yes, for the pair of concerts he never made it to, dying in the back of his limousine en route.
The first thing you might notice about this Hank Williams show poster is how busy it is, but in a good way… there are over 100 words on it, with all sorts of type sizes and styles.
And then if you’re any kind of music historian, it dawns on you that this Hank Williams Sr. broadside advertised the afternoon and evening concerts Hank was traveling to at the time of his death. He passed away sometime in the middle of the night in the back seat of his rented limousine.
A lot of people don’t know this, but the two shows did proceed without Hank. It must’ve been very sad for ticket-holders leaving the concerts if they saw this Hank Williams telephone-pole poster anywhere still around town. I’ve even heard this placard referred to as the Hank Williams death poster. Very sad.
This is the only vintage country music concert broadside I’ve ever seen where the star of the show died before getting to the event. I don’t believe one exists, for example, for Patsy Cline following her tragic plane crash, but there is such a poster for Otis Redding (1967).
Decades ago, a film company in Canada made a movie about “the show that Hank didn’t make,” obviously about this very concert. Since they didn’t have access to this Hank Williams boxing style concert poster, its image doesn’t appear in that movie.
It’s interesting to note that although the show date of this Hank Williams appearance poster was in the calendar year 1953, 99% of the poster’s lifespan was in 1952… it was designed, printed, posted and did its job in November and December of 1952.
This genuine Hank Williams Sr. placard is the only such poster made before the show happened. After-show bootlegs have been floating around forever, but with a totally different look, and often using the phrase “If the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise” across the top. They’re as phony as a three-dollar bill.
Correct me if you know of a better one, but in my opinion, if you had to pick the best vintage hillbilly concert poster ever, this would be the one, period.
Although it sustained a lot of damage over the years, this Hank Williams Sr. poster was manufactured on durable cardboard, as opposed to paper.
I love the way this Hank Williams window display names two of his most-loved songs: “Lovesick Blues” and “Jambalaya.”
You have to be impressed by the strength of the opening acts on this Hank Williams show placard… Homer & Jethro, for example, are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. After that you have Hawkshaw Hawkins, Merle “Red” Taylor, Autry Inman, Jack and Daniel and The Beautiful Webb Sisters.
The two colors which most attract the human eye and yellow and red, and sure enough, those are the two that are used so effectively here on this Hank Williams Sr. billboard.
January 1 is always tricky when it comes to identifying the correct year, being right on the cusp like it is. But notice how this Hank Williams In Person poster eliminates any question by stating in red letters below his name, The Biggest Jamboree of 1953.
I found it fascinating that the Grand Ole Opry isn’t mentioned by name until near the end of this Hank Williams Sr. concert announcement (identifying Autry Inman as a member). It’s a great selling point, and Hank was certainly a member… or had he been kicked out?
One of the most fun aspects of this Hank Williams event poster comes at the very bottom, in the form of ticket prices… the cheapest ones, for kids, were only 60 cents!
I should rattle off the top half of this vintage country music appearance poster, just for the record:
Big 2 Hour Stage Show!
(Then it switches to red ink): Canton Memorial Auditorium
New Year’s Day – Thurs. Jan. 1 – 3:00 P.M. and 8:15 P.M.
(In black ink again): In Person – Writer of “Jambalaya”
(And back to red print): HANK WILLIAMS – “Mr. Lovesick Blues (notice the typo, no closing quote mark) – Star of MGM Records & Films
It’s probably pretty apparent, but this Hank Williams street sign measures 22 by 28 inches, known as a “jumbo” in the hobby.
As for condition issues, some collectors would try to repair the gaping holes, tears and water stains on this Hank Williams Sr. advertisement, but I don’t think I would. I believe all that real aging adds an important touch of character and authenticity. Most of the time, I believe that a rare, valuable country music concert poster like this should be preserved exactly as it was found, although I know I’ll get arguments about that.
How does a poster of this vintage survive in the first place? Every one has a different story. This particular Hank Williams Sr. sign was discovered inside an old barn in Canton, many years after the event – decades even, possibly. Sure, once in a while you’ll turn up a vintage C&W music window card at a swap meet, but still hanging inside an old barn? Wow, what a cool find.
I just love the photo of “Luke the Drifter” (one of his nicknames) that was used on this Hank Williams concert placard… snazzy country & western suit, white hat, strumming a chord and standing next to the WSM microphone (Nashville’s legendary C&W radio station). Sweet!
I always love it when an old concert poster offers a line of description for the headliner, for those potential customers who weren’t sure who they were looking at. So “Star of MGM Records & Films” was printed below his name on this Hank Williams Sr. fence poster… although his presence was infinitely stronger on record than in films.
This placard has another, hidden element of tragedy to it: Hawkshaw Hawkins, the third-billed act on this Hank Williams Sr. street poster, died in the 1963 plane crash which also took Patsy Cline’s life.
Posters, Inc. in Philadelphia can take a bow for designing and printing this gem of a Hank Williams Sr. ticket poster.
I saved the oddest twist for last: Somebody used a pencil and wrote some pertinent messages about Hank not making the show on this Hank Williams Sr. tour poster. Not to be a tease here, but I tell you all about it in the video.
This Hank Williams tour placard is discussed with great reverence by serious collector Peter Howard of San Luis Obispo, California. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell phone at 805.540.0020. And believe me, I will pay TOP DOLLAR for this, or any other, original Hank Williams Sr. concert poster.
Nothing as good as this, but to see a few more authentic, original country music concert posters, including one with Hank Williams Sr. and Roy Acuff from 1950, just Move It On Over to this page of my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/country.htm