http://www.postercentral.com A delightful cardboard Sonny Thompson poster board from the late 1940s, back when post-war R&B was at its peak.
The exact year was 1949, on a Sunday night in late November. You can barely read it, but below the date it states, “Hours 9:00 PM to 1:00 AM.”
This Sonny Thompson window card measures the standard 14 by 22 inches in size, and was made of cardboard for durability.
Just who made this poster is unknown, because no printer’s credit appears at the bottom; it was probably printed in New York, where the tour director was located.
The most striking feature of this Sonny Thompson placard is the long run of piano keys in blue & white, starting in the lower left corner.
It’s looks like an extra large, exaggerated keyboard, but amazingly, it’s actually a truncated one… there are only 60 keys out of the usual 88 pictured.
I would also say the color scheme of this Sonny Thompson in-person poster adds a great deal to its appeal.
You’ve got blue & orange, looking so sharp against the white background. Then the lettering up top is in black, and Sonny’s smiling face is in sepia-tone. Combined, it has a very nice impact.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen another Sonny Thompson billboard that advertised his concerts before, so I have nothing to compare this one to.
But what I have seen is lots of concert posters by his contemporaries, and by that measure, this one’s a true winner.
“The Sunset, Sunday Night, Nov. 27,” this Sonny Thompson window display fairly screams across the top. The date, especially, is in giant letters/numbers.
For a long time, hobbyists thought the Sunset was in Los Angeles, especially with a famous street through Hollywood carrying that name.
But nay, this Sunset was in Indianapolis, Indiana. We know because a lot of cool concert window cards surfaced from this venue a good number of years ago.
Then there’s the tiny print at the top of this Sonny Thompson event poster. You’ll never make it out in my video, so I’ll just give it to you here:
“Advance .40 – tax included – At Door .60. Make Table Reservations in Person at Sunset Terrace Café.”
That confirms this Sonny Thompson show placard is from Indiana and not L.A.; the Sunset Terrace Café is easily traced to Indianapolis.
So that covers the variable venue information up top, which would change from show to show. Everything below the black line is the permanent part of this poster, and remained constant throughout the tour.
Musically, the awesome thing about this Sonny Thompson concert sign is that it gives the name of his two #1 singles from 1948 – “Long Gone” and “Late Freight.”
The former was his first and biggest hit from the spring of ’48, staying at #1 for three weeks; the record label read “Sonny Thompson with the Sharps and Flats.” The latter then topped the R&B charts in the summertime, and was credited to the “Sonny Thompson Quintet.”
It’s funny how his band name would change on two consecutive singles like that, but that’s the way Miracle Records put them out.
And speaking of which, Miracle gets a nice name-check on this Sonny Thompson boxing-style concert poster, and in orange lettering no less.
It’s located down in the lower-left corner, about where the piano keyboard starts. There’s no logo, just the two words.
And then there’s the big orange box at the bottom of this Sonny Thompson ticket poster that proclaims, “Featuring Sensational Battle of the Tenor Saxes.”
However, in an unusual exclusion, the sax players are not identified. Perhaps they were not names of note, but still, usually key musicians and sometimes important soloists get a mention on these posters.
Impresario Ralph Cooper gets his name plugged twice on his Sonny Thompson street sign. At the top of the permanent portion it says “Ralph Cooper, Inc. Presents,” and at the bottom it says “Tour Direction – Ralph Cooper” with a NYC address and phone number.
Actually, in this particular case, that bottom line of credit is nearly trimmed off, or almost didn’t make it in the first place. Only the top half of some words are viewable – but that’s enough.
If it’s a vintage Sonny Thompson concert advertisement you’re looking for, it would be hard to beat this one, IMHO. It seems to have everything going for it.
But these things can be very hard to find… so many were thrown away right after the shows happened. It just didn’t occur to people that they’d be fun to frame and put up years later.
This Sonny Thompson fence poster is analyzed for you today by long-time musicologist and collector Peter J. Howard. That’s me, and you can reach me thru firstname.lastname@example.org or by ringing 805—540-0020.
And if you’d like to see a few more highly collectible post-war R&B concert placards, just mouse on over to this page of my Web site: http://www.postercentral.com/rhythmnblues.htm
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http://www.postercentral.com An original, vintage Supremes window card from Tulsa, Oklahoma for a concert that took place on November 12, 1965.
The poster doesn’t say “Tulsa” anywhere on it, but the city is easily determined because radio station KAKC sponsored the show – and they’re located in Tulsa.
This Supremes placard measures the standard 14×22 inches and was manufactured on cardboard, in part to withstand weather elements for outdoor posting.
It was printed on bright white, but as you’ll see in my video, that white could fade to brown when exposed to light for a long period of time.
To illustrate this point, I show you a photo of this same Supremes tour poster from 15 months later from Raleigh, NC. That poster is “toned,” or sunburned, considerably; it’s flat-out beige from the fading.
But the Tulsa example was probably never posted or used; its condition is like new, as if it remained tucked away, out of sight, for half a century.
I love the unusual colors on this Supremes broadside… robin’s-egg blue, along with the black & white.
Most concert posters in the day used brighter colors like red and yellow to grab people’s attention… so I appreciate the subtlety found here with calm blue.
It’s a nice bonus that a second successful act adorns this Supremes window display… giving you two hit acts for the price of one.
Meaning this piece doubles as a Lovin’ Spoonful concert poster, because they’re the opening act AND their photo is on there.
And there’s even another important person on this Supremes show placard… the third-billed act, Earl Van Dyke.
Earl became a member of Motown’s legendary house band The Funk Brothers, and played keyboards on countless Motown hits.
Notice how short-lived and super-localized this Supremes window poster is… 50 years later and thousands of miles away, it can be difficult sometimes to determine what city a poster was from.
But as I said, the radio station gives it away. Otherwise, how in the world would we know where this “Civic Center Arena” was located?
And check out the prices given on this Supremes telephone-pole poster… my goodness… top price .50, and it goes down from there!
It’s hard to imagine paying only .50 to see two groups that had a combined total of 25 Top 10 hits in the 1960s. Boggles the mind.
A lot of entities took credit on this Supremes concert sign… first it says “A Ka-Lee Presentation,” and then further down it states, “Carson Attractions.”
And even further down, it says, “Sponsored by the new KAKC and Dr. Pepper.” Wow, that’s four companies with their fingers in the pie!
Then there’s the printer’s credit found at the bottom of this Supremes street poster… the Murray Poster Printing Company in NYC.
Funny it was made halfway across the country, because printers were everywhere in the Midwest back then, including the well-known and widely used Colorcraft in Oklahoma.
But remember, this Supremes concert announcement was designed and orchestrated by a national booking agency, so I’m sure they had their own printers lined up.
As to whether that agency / management was based in New York or Detroit (home of Motown), I do not know.
Any Supremes boxer-style concert poster from their early days is hard to find; I think I’ve seen only about half-a-dozen different designs.
That may be because their management preferred to used radio spots or newspaper ads to get the word out.
But with this method, at least we have a Supremes pole poster we can live with for the rest of our lives, as a souvenir.
But nobody really saves newspaper ads, they aren’t as attractive anyway, and of course old radio ads on tape practically don’t exist.
And don’t forget, with this item you also have a vintage Lovin’ Spoonful poster board in your collection as well!
Although I’m sure Spoonful fans would rather have one where that band is top-billed, not a second thought like this.
But a Lovin’ Spoonful show poster from the mid-60s can be as hard to find as a Supremes one.
That’s simply because people didn’t really save much in the sixties, they were too busy having a good time. (smile)
This cardboard Supremes poster is happily displayed for you today by Pete Howard of San Luis Obispo, California… and that would be me. I can be contacted any time, either through firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling  540-0020.
And to see some other outstanding 1960s soul-music and R&B original advertising posters, just head over to this listing found on my big hobby web site: http://www.postercentral.com/rhythmnblues.htm