C’mon everybody, it’s rock ’n’ roll time in the upcoming November 6 Signature auction of concert posters. So in addition to the psychedelic posters I covered in last month’s column, here’s the lowdown on our best posters from the Happy Days era of the 1950s.
Leading the pack… wait, how can I say that? How can you pick the best between our Buddy Holly/Everly Bros. amazing window card, a 1955 Elvis Presley on Sun Records concert poster, and even the Hank Williams masterpiece, since Hank’s a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame too? Tough call, and we’re glad we have that problem.
The Buddy Holly & the Crickets/Everly Bros. poster is such a doozy, we just had to give it our whole catalog cover. What amazing graphics, timeless music, and hopeless rarity this board brings. It’s a super-special piece that took us a year to pry out of the consignor. It was tough leaving another Beatles 1966 Shea or high-graded FD-26 Skeleton & Roses off the cover, but this ultra-rare masterpiece bumped those two, and everybody else, aside.
And then Elvis Presley third-billed to a pair of country music stars… wow. A classic red, white & blue Hatch Show Print poster, from their original files, pretty much guaranteed to be the only one that exists. Elvis with Scotty & Bill, the two fellows who played with him on “That’s All Right” and “Good Rockin’ Tonight.” Before I joined Heritage in April 2019, the house record for any concert we’ve ever sold was this type of Elvis poster from a few days later on the tour. Final price then: $42,500.
And we have a whole mess o’ Fifties posters in a more affordable price range, too. Many historians feel that rock ’n’ roll was born with the Jackie Brenston hit “Rocket 88,” produced by Ike Turner. Well heavens, we have a big concert poster from 1951 that features those very musicians and that key song. It’s a R&R scholar’s dream poster.
And the Hank Williams poster… can you believe we landed “the family’s” own copy which was simply never going to be sold? Be sure to read my description for the fascinating back story. And of course, this window card set the world’s record in our July auction for any concert poster auctioned, ever, at 150 grand. When that happens, does the next one exceed it? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Be sure to watch with popcorn and a soda.
How about Little Richard when he was “tiny Richard” (yuk yuk)? That’s right, our 1955 poster from a Nashville nightclub featured Richard without a hit yet and still playing under the banner of “The Crown Prince of the Blues.” He had languished on RCA for the previous few years; soon Specialty Records would start releasing his singles and rock ’n’ roll history would be changed, if not outright born.
And then there’s The Killer. That’s right, Jerry Lee Lewis also right out of the chute, third-billed with no hit singles to his name yet. Another unique Hatch poster. “Crazy Arms” made a lot of noise in the South, but didn’t garner a whimper nationwide. You might say that changed with the release of his very next Sun Records single two months later, “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Going On.” Yowza!
If the best posters are out of your price range, we have a couple of beautiful handbills that are much more affordable than their larger cardboard counterparts. There’s the 1957 Biggest Show of Stars flyer from Portland, OR that features nine members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, including the Crickets with Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, and the Everly Bros. It’s a magnificent piece loaded with big musicians, colors, pictures, and song titles. And then there’s the 1958 Alan Freed Big Beat tour handbill, featuring Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Frankie Lymon. It, too, is packed with what collectors want… big artists, key song titles, photos of everyone, and a colorful, compelling design. The posters go for tens of thousands of dollars, but here you can grab the handbills for a fraction of that.
So rock your socks off on November 6, and go home with a prize!
Director, Concert Posters