Sonny Thompson Window Card 40s R&B Post-War Bandleader

An original Sonny Thompson concert poster from the fall of 1949 with really appealing graphics – and a couple of #1 hits listed prominently at the top.

No printer’s credit is given at the bottom of this poster, so we have no idea who even designed it… although the best guess would be the “Tour Direction” company, Ralph Cooper of New York City.

I just love the colors used on this Sonny Thompson show poster… not your typical red and yellow, but rather blue and orange.

If you add in the white elements (such as his huge name) and the black venue printing up top, you have essentially a four-color display working here.

For me, it’s the long piano keyboard that’s the highlight of this Sonny Thompson tour poster. It’s a great visual centerpiece and totally fits the musician it advertises.

On first blush, it appears to be an exaggeratingly long keyboard… more than a normal piano. But guess what? It’s only 60 keys! Only 2/3 of a normal piano. So it’s a fun optical illusion.

And the colors… they’re distributed perfectly throughout this Sonny Thompson broadside. Blue for his name and the piano; orange for the two hit songs, the big box down below and the record label.

The two songs I mention are “Long Gone,” #1 R&B for three weeks in spring 1948; and “Late Freight,” #1 R&B for one week in summer ’48.

They really enhance this Sonny Thompson window poster because they were smash successes. So often, these old cards carry weak song titles such as non-charters, B-sides and album cuts.

So it’s a real bonus that along with these two biggies, you don’t have a couple of weaker ones to water things down. Just the two monsters, and that’s it. (smile)

The next orange element on this Sonny Thompson concert placard is the angular box at the bottom which reads, “Featuring – Sensational Battle of the Tenor Saxes.”

But it’s a little unusual that the saxophone players are not named. So they were both obviously in Sonny’s band, but they must’ve really been able to “cut it up” for the poster to highlight them like that.

And then it states “Miracle Records” in the lower left corner of this Sonny Thompson appearance poster. Unusual in that there’s no logo; just the two words in normal print. Both of Sonny’s smashes were on Miracle.

And then notice how the “Tour Direction” line is cut almost in half along the bottom; I don’t believe this poster has been trimmed, I think it’s simply a mis-printing.

But that’s OK, because Director Cooper gets his name in full at the top of this Sonny Thompson telephone-pole poster. He both “Presents” and “Directs”… so his fingerprints are all over this.

Manager and promoter Joe Glaser was also known for getting his name onto all of his client’s concert posters twice… once at the top and again down in the bottom margin, just like this one.

Taking this Sonny Thompson tour placard from the top, it states, “The Sunset – Sunday Night, Nov. 27.” That’s it for the big print… for the rest, you practically need a magnifying glass.

“The Sunset” in this case was located in Indianapolis, IN… we know that because it was found with a stash of posters from that city. Plus there’s another clue in the fine print.

So the small type in the venue box of this Sonny Thompson street poster reads, Advance $1.40 – Tax Included – At Door $1.60. Make Table Reservations in Person at SUNSET TERRACE CAFÉ.

And that’s our other clue… the Sunset Terrace Café was known to be located in Indy, and that eliminates all other “Sunsets” located around the U.S., including Los Angeles.

If you’re looking for a fine piece of Sonny Thompson concert memorabilia for your collection, you’d be hard-pressed to top this one. I think it’s a “looker” and a “keeper,” to use a couple of hobby terms.

However, I can’t recall seeing another one by this musician anywhere else. People like Amos Milburn and Roy Brown I’ve seen on several different vintage window cards; but not Sonny, this one’s it.

So I don’t know if this Sonny Thompson concert announcement is scarce because his management believed in using newspaper ads and radio spots to get the word out instead,

Or if Sonny simply didn’t tour that much, and as a result, not many window cards ever needed to be made up. Perhaps he was a “homebody” who just stayed mostly in his home base.

So that’s why it’s funny that this Sonny Thompson boxing-style concert poster is as attractive as they come. It’s like they hit a home run the first time out with their design.

I also don’t see Ralph Cooper’s name on many posters either. So maybe it was a matter of Joe Glaser believing in the power of concert window cards, and Cooper believing in the other two media instead.

This Sonny Thompson pole poster is shown to you today by Pete Howard, long-time music fan, musicologist and former publisher of ICE magazine. I can be reached thru (805)-540-0020 or by writing to Please be aware that I pay the best prices in this hobby, period, for not only vintage Sonny Thompson concert advertisements but any old cool R&B memorabilia like this.

And to see a few more very cool examples of post-war R&B concert placards, just move your mouse over to this page here on my site:

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