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    AND WE DON'T MEAN MAYBE

    Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps 1958 Manhattan, KS Art-Deco Concert Poster An original 1950's cardboard window card advertising an upcoming show by Gene Vincent ("Be-Bop-A-Lula") in Manhattan, Kansas on Friday, September 26, 1958, in gorgeous, near-mint condition. A spectacular investment-quality grade on a major piece by one of the key figures of 1950's rock 'n' roll.

    In fact, we'll say it up front and we'll say it loud: This is arguably a better-looking 1950's concert poster than by any of rock 'n' roll's six primary founding fathers: Elvis Presley, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis or Fats Domino. Certainly with just one musician on it, which the hobby calls, in this case, a "Gene Vincent stand-alone poster." Can you name a better-looking one by any of those six?

    What a stunning piece of 1950's rock 'n' roll advertising this poster is. It was so ahead of its time that some people think it must've been a 1960's fantasy poster designed after-the-fact. But no, this gem was definitely printed in the summer of 1958 to advertise a show in early fall to get those teenagers in Manhattan, Kansas to hit up their parents for money and go buy a ticket.

    Just look at the killer fonts and colors on there. And the great band photo down below, in addition to Gene's smiling face up above. With a generation-shaking movie title as well as key song title. And red ink used in the venue box up above, to play off the red coloring below! What a great idea by the local promoter.

    This poster was a "tour blank," with the bottom 80% of the card printed in quantity ahead of time and the top white venue box left blank, to be printed in later city-by-city. Only three of these posters are known to exist, from any city, and the other two stops used black ink up in the venue box. We auctioned off one of those two years ago (from Abilene, Texas) and it notched $32,500. That says more than anything we could about this poster's rarity and appeal.

    Admission was only a buck-fifty per person, and you can be sure most of those were teenagers. There's no "concert" mentioned on this poster... it was a dance, and you were gonna rock your bobby sox off at this one. Just look at the photo of the Blue Caps... they were already starting!

    "Mr. Be Bop A Lu Lu Himself," the window card proclaims. Now, some might think "typo" when they first see that... but no. In the song, Gene sings "lu lu" every other time: "Be bop a lu la, she's my baby / Be bop a lu lu, I don't mean maybe." It's well-documented that the song turned John Lennon and his Quarrymen on their ears, that's for sure. According to The Complete Beatles Chronicle (Lewisohn, Harmony/Crown), the Liverpool lads performed the song live every year for six straight years, from 1957-62.

    And then check out this pop culture plug: "You saw him with Jayne Mansfield in 'The Girl Can't Help It'... Now See Him IN PERSON!" What exquisite bonus wording for a 50's rock 'n' roll poster... a major motion picture that rocked teenagers back on their heels as well! Not to mention the underlying sexual tension that any mention of Jayne Mansfield created back then. Surging hormones, anyone?

    The provenance of this poster is also highly special. It was once owned, and proudly displayed in his home, by the father of boxing-style concert poster collecting... Hank Thompson of Raleigh, North Carolina. Before his untimely passing many years ago, Hank had assembled the most marvelous collection of vintage cardboard concert posters the world had ever seen. He had the Midas touch, and we all learned immeasurably from him. Any poster that was once owned by Hank has extra cache permanently attached to it. And this exact Gene Vincent specimen was his favorite rockabilly poster in his collection, by far.

    This poster measures the standard 14 x 22" and grades to a startling Near Mint condition. It was difficult to not just call this one "mint," which hardly ever happens with '50s posters. We put the "near" on there because it did have the slightest, lightest touch-up along the left-hand edge to smooth out some bubbles in the paper... which touched none of the image. If we dig really deep, we can offer that there's a slight mark under "Capitol" and a slighter white line next to "And" (the Blue Caps). Any other surface imperfections are just the result of 1950's printing presses. Heritage's grader is very happy today because it's just very seldom that a poster comes along this old that's in this pristine of a condition... and yet it was definitely printed in the summer of 1958 by the Central Show Printing Company in Mason City, Iowa... only five miles from where fellow rocker Buddy Holly's plane would crash a few months later. COA from Heritage Auctions.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2019
    16th-17th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,575

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