Big Joe Turner Concert Poster 1954 – The Year of “Shake, Rattle & Roll”

Today’s presentation features a Big Joe Turner window card from the exact same month that his all-important “Shake, Rattle & Roll” single was released – April of 1954.

Following that, I show you a Big Joe Turner window poster from 1960, after his charting days were over but when he was still a dynamic stage performer.

The opening acts on both posters were no slouches either. In fact, some would consider the ’54 piece to be a Smiley Lewis window card because his big, smiling face (and name) take up the bottom half of the placard.

And likewise, the ’60 artifact could easily be called a Roscoe Gordon concert poster, because he occupies the bottom-half real estate on that one – also with a photo and two song titles.

But for now, I’m calling both a Big Joe Turner concert sign, because he’s the member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the father of “Shake, Rattle & Roll” and the bigger, headlining star.

“Jumping George Presents” the 1954 event, as it says across the top in the venue information. I’m not familiar with that Bay-Area promoter, so perhaps his role in that capacity was short-lived.

And then the venue info on this Big Joe Turner street sign continues, “Labor Temple Ballroom – Formerly Ambassador Ballroom – Geary and Fillmore Streets, San Francisco.” So was this in the same room that became the famed Fillmore Auditorium? I was unable to determine that in researching this video blog, even in consulting several Bay-Area psychedelic rock experts. Please comment below if you know for sure.

And then it says, continuing in red lettering, “Dancing 9 to 1 a.m. Sunday nite, April 18.” No year needed to be given; this poster was likely printed in March and most of them thrown away by May.

So if it’s a piece of Big Joe Turner concert memorabilia you’re seeking for your collection, you might be hard-pressed to choose between the ’54 and ’60 posters I show you here. Both have their strengths and relative weaknesses.

The ’60 piece states across the top, “Dance & Show – Sunday, April 3rd – 9:00 to 1:00 – Meadow Acres Ballroom – Topeka, KS – Admission $2.00 per person.” All very standard stuff.

The ’60 Big Joe Turner concert announcement was designed and printed by the EJ Warner Poster Corp. of New York, and states so down at the bottom, along with their printer’s union bug.

And the ’54 piece was designed and printed by Tilghman Press out of Oakland, CA, and also has their credit way down bottom center- with Tilghman’s really old Market Street address on there to boot.

One thing the ’60 Big Joe Turner boxer-style concert poster has over the earlier one is that it calls him “Big” Joe, not just Joe, and it uses his predominant nickname, “Boss of the Blues.”

It only makes sense that as Joe got more & more well-known throughout the ’50s, these little name enhancements would find their way onto his advertisements. Whereas in the early days, 1954, it was just his first & last name and that’s it.

This Big Joe Turner pole poster – actually, both of them – are discussed at great length in this video by music historian and documentarian Pete Howard of San Luis Obispo, CA. If you’d like to speak, either write me at or call 805.540.0020. And I want to emphasize that I pay the best prices in this hobby, period, for old, great R&B / soul / rock ’n’ roll show cards like these two.

To see a few more dazzlers from the same genre and era, just slip one page over to this:

This entry was posted in 1950s Rock ’N' Roll, Boxing-Style Concert Posters, Soul and R&B, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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