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    Hank Williams 1953 Canton, OH Genuine Original Concert Poster for the Show He Died En Route To. An original, authentic concert-advertising window card for the great Hank Williams, scheduled to play on New Year's Day, January 1, 1953 in Canton, Ohio. Mr. Williams died in the back of a car that was taking him to this very performance in the early morning hours of January 1, placing this poster squarely on "the day the music died" for subsequent generations of country, blues and mainstream music fans. Mr. Williams was just 29 years old.

    There can be no hyperbole used in talking about this poster; all superlatives are solidly true. It is the Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady of 20th century vintage concert posters. The importance of the musician and his tragedy; the design and appearance of the poster; and its scathing rarity create a perfect storm of Mount-Everest-like demand and desirability.

    In fact, this poster has never been auctioned off or sold publicly in the history of the planet. That's because with only two known in elite collections, and maybe one more hidden deep in a Canton family, there's never any movement on this poster; it's like a fossil buried 100 miles below the earth. It was found by the original owners tacked up inside an old barn in Canton, decades ago.

    Heritage is extremely honored and privileged to be able to offer this poster, and we're guessing there's a good chance it'll go to a museum. (It's already been displayed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1990's.) In addition, documentary filmmaker Ken Burns shot this very poster for his acclaimed Country Music eight-part PBS-TV docuseries in 2019, and for the accompanying coffee-table book, Country Music: An Illustrated History.

    The aesthetic appeal of this poster can't be overstated. If you count the white border and black print, this board could be considered a four-color poster. So many concert posters of this era were small, simple window cards with one color, no pictures and scant detail... such as Hatch Show Print posters. This masterpiece is fairly stuffed with the bells and whistles that all collectors covet. To wit:

    • Big size and cardboard construction
    • Attention-grabbing red and yellow colors
    • A great picture of Hank in full stage attire, strumming his guitar
    • A splendid array of type fonts to hold your interest
    • Two classic song titles: "Jambalaya" and "Lovesick Blues"
    • Record labels, movie studios, TV shows and radio networks mentioned
    • Two opening acts that were legends in their own right
    • Ticket prices and buying location, including a 60-cent price tier!
    • The year stated (we like the subtlety; after "Jamboree")
    • A holiday involved (New Year's Day)
    • Extreme, extreme rarity
    • And sadly, the element of tragedy

    Hank Williams is now considered as much a blues artist as he was a country musician. He's a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Songwriter's Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. You'd be hard-pressed to find a musician or band that never covered or at least performed a Hank Williams song. The Beatles/Quarry Men performed three of them in their earliest days, and you can add Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and U2 to that list and just go down from there.

    It should be noted that the event this poster advertised still took place, despite the tragedy of a few hours before. Hank's backing band, The Drifting Cowboys, and everyone else on the bill dutifully performed the two shows, with obviously plenty of newly added Hank cover versions in their repertoire, sung through moist eyes.

    "Jambalaya" was singled out above Hank's name because when this poster was printed in late 1952, "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" had been #1 for three months on the country charts that fall. (It had also been a Top 20 pop hit in Billboard.) And "Lovesick Blues" was listed below his name because it was his biggest hit ever, spending four months atop the country chart in 1949. All in all, Hank enjoyed 11 number one C&W hits and 35 top ten singles - all while in his 20's. In addition to the above-named songs, Hank's most memorable tunes also included "Move It on Over," "Honky Tonkin'," "My Bucket's Got a Hole In It," "Why Don't You Love Me," "Cold, Cold Heart," "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love with You)," "Honky Tonk Blues," "Hey, Good Lookin'," "Kaw-Liga," "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive," "You Win Again" and "Your Cheatin' Heart."

    To sports and NFL fans, Canton, Ohio is best known as the location of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But to any fan of music, pop culture and American history, Canton, Ohio will always be known as the location of "the show that Hank Williams never made it to." This poster serves as the rare historical marker for the stopping point of an American postage-stamp artist, whose career going forward might have known no limitations.

    Pete Howard
    Consignment Director, Entertainment & Music

    Measures 21 7/8" x 28 1/8" and grades to restored Very Good Plus condition. COA from Heritage Auctions and restoration done by Chameleon Restoration.

    More Information: "Big 2 Hour Stage Show!" this board proclaims across the top. "Canton Memorial Auditorium, New Year's Day, Thur. Jan. 1, 3 P.M. and 8.15 P.M." And then, "In Person – Writer of ‘Jambalaya' – Hank Williams – ‘Mr. Lovesick Blues' – Star of MGM Records & Films. Plus These Great Radio & TV Favorites, in the Biggest Jamboree of 1953." The exciting words just pour off this poster like a Hank Williams song.

    As for the opening acts, Homer & Jethro are also Country Music Hall-of-Famers who had the biggest hit of their career a few months later, the satirical ("How Much Is) That Hound Dog in the Window." And Hawkshaw Hawkins had charted three Top 10's in 1951, but is best remembered for sadly being killed in Patsy Cline's plane crash in 1963.

    In smaller print, Autry Inman didn't burn up the charts as a recording artist, but he was a respected songwriter whose songs were recorded by Hank as well as Johnny Cash, George Jones, Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings. Merle "Red" Taylor was an accomplished fiddler best known for playing with Hank as well as Bill Monroe, and was in on the birth of bluegrass music. The bill is rounded out by Jack and Daniel and the "beautiful" Webb Sisters.

    The three Hank Williams songs that the Beatles/Quarry Men performed at various points from 1957-1961 were "Honky Tonk Blues," "You Win Again" and "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)." According to Mark Lewisohn's The Complete Beatles Chronicle, John Lennon took the vocal on the first two.

    It should be noted that Hank's musical genes were so strong that his son, Hank Williams Jr., is a country music Hall-of-Famer who went on to chart over 100 singles on Billboard's C&W chart, and in the 1980's alone had eight #1 hits and won the CMA Entertainer of the Year award twice. No wonder "Family Tradition" is one of Junior's signature songs.

    Condition details: This original poster was found inside a Canton, Ohio barn decades after the fact, so it needed TLC and restoration to bring it to the incredibly presentable shape it's in today. There are creases present throughout, heavy in places, mostly in the poster's lower half and primarily visible only when the poster is tilted at an angle to the light. The biggest poster-wide crease runs from the margin by Hank's bicep down through "Jamboree" and "Jethro" and ending at the end of "Hawkins." There is also much creasing in the yellow in the lower right corner area. Poster was once folded in half vertically, showing the traces of a crease down the center, but is now reinforced on the back and not a factor. Occasional touch-up to the lettering and yellow background was used sparingly.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    1st-2nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 50
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 5,588

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

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