Five different Jerry Lee Lewis vintage concert posters from his rock ’n’ roll heyday of 1956-1959, all of them when he was recording for Sun Records.
Across this span, Lewis goes from barely-known for his non-charting “Crazy Arms” single to rock & roll founding father with “Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire.”
All five Jerry Lee Lewis show posters were made by Hatch Showprint out of Nashville, Tennessee. All were once quarter-folded down and stored in Hatch’s file cabinets, and fortuitously have the year written on the back of each one.
All of them were clearly designed to live for just a few weeks… printed perhaps a month before the concerts, and usually thrown away the day after.
Hatch used yellow fairly consistently on their Jerry Lee Lewis tour posters, with the first four having that color predominantly. Only the fifth one changes to a red, white & blue template.
Hatch also added a photo of The Killer after he had his two major hits, so the ’58 and ’59 posters show Jerry’s picture, unlike the first three.
I love the five Jerry Lee Lewis broadsides that I’m privileged to show you in this video, and thank goodness Hatch made them in the first place, and then saved one copy of each for their files.
But objectively, the best-looking one of them all was probably made by a west coast company, Tilghman Press, in ’57, IMHO. Be sure to click on my link below to take a gander at that one.
OK, the first Jerry Lee Lewis window poster I show you today hails from the tiny berg of Gobler, Missouri, on Wednesday, December 19, 1956.
It’s a Sun Records “Rock and Roll Show and Dance” with the Killer being second-billed to rockabilly legend Warren Smith, who also gets his influential instrumental, “Ubangi Stomp,” mentioned.
Some collectors might actually favor this Jerry Lee Lewis concert placard because it finds the Killer bottom-billed, before he ever charted a record.
“Crazy Arms” is given right under his name – in brackets, no less – and although it sold a total of 300,000 copies, it never entered the national charts. So… do you like your superstars before they were famous? I sure do!
The second Jerry Lee Lewis appearance poster is from the same week, if you can believe it… just three days later, at The Armory in Amory, Mississippi. That must’ve created a lot of slips of the tongue!
A third act has been added now… rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers, down below the Killer. “And his Musical Warriors,” let’s not forget. But for some reason, his name is crossed off… either he didn’t make this show, or Hatch didn’t want his name appearing on subsequent posters.
Then you could see the third Jerry Lee Lewis telephone-pole poster from across the street… and rightfully so, because he was a star now. The year was 1958, and his name appears in huge, thick letters.
But it’s the wording below him that kills: “Sun Recording Artist – ‘Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Going On’ [and its B-side], ‘It’ll Be Me.’”
This Jerry Lee Lewis tour placard hails from the Murray Drive-In Theater in Murray, Kentucky. How quaint! And there were two shows, 8 & 10 P.M.
And for the first time, ticket prices are listed… hold your breath… Adults $1.25, OK, but children? Two bits! That’s right, just 25 meager cents! Wow.
Forget about those cheap tickets on the fourth Jerry Lee Lewis street poster I hold up… kids aren’t even considered, it’s $1.50 per person in advance, and $1.75 at the door.
But by this point, the Killer had had his two major hits, so that wasn’t a steep ticket price at all. They aren’t listed on the poster, but this one has other great attributes going for it.
It all depends on what you desire with your Jerry Lee Lewis concert memorabilia. Some collectors must have a photo to be satisfied; others strongly want song titles; some want their star to be already established; and others want “rookie” concert posters from before they were famous.
Today’s five-poster presentation pretty much runs the gamut of those criteria.
So this fourth Jerry Lee Lewis street sign does have his picture on there, a charismatic “floating head” shot that perfectly captures all of his wild-man antics with one expression.
And how ’bout that headline? “Meet Me At The BIG HOP.” Wow. How fifties, how rock ’n’ roll. And he’s billed with “His Trio.” That’s a switch. “With Many Others” – no room to list opening acts. “Come Early and Stay Late.” How fun!
And then the fifth and final Jerry Lee Lewis fence poster proudly advertises his two famous hit records, “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On” and “Great Balls of Fire” – although the first is a bit abbreviated.
This poster features a professional studio photo of Jerry, in marked contrast to the wild, unprofessional photo found on the previous year’s poster.
This final Jerry Lee Lewis boxer-style concert poster was a “tour blank,” meaning it was used for a whole package tour. Nothing is printed up above in the venue area, however, so this is an unused specimen.
Notice how it has four opening acts listed… that’s a long way from three years earlier, when the Killer was the opening act! He had truly arrived by now, although his reputation was tarnished by personal problems.
So which Jerry Lee Lewis pole poster would you choose, if you could have just one? Tough choice, isn’t it? Everybody probably has a different favorite.
I’m guessing the most common selection would be the fourth one, “Meet Me At the BIG HOP.” It’s the first with his picture; it has killer wording and ticket prices; it was 1958, so he hadn’t taken the personal fall yet; and it’s complete, with date, city, venue and so forth. But… we all have our preferences!
This set of Jerry Lee Lewis concert cards was happily walked through for your today by music historian and long-time collector Pete Howard, residing on California’s central coast. Feel free to contact me using either firstname.lastname@example.org or by my cell phone, (805) 540-0020. Just always be aware that I pay the HIGHEST PRICES IN THIS HOBBY, bar none, for cool, vintage concert memorabilia such as this, sometimes the older the better.
And to see a few more eye-pleasing examples of old vintage-rock concert window placards, including the best looking Jerry Lee of them all (which I video-blogged years ago), just point your browser over to this page: http://www.postercentral.com/rocknroll.htm