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    Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Eddie Cochran, Everly Bros. 1957 Biggest Show of Stars Handbill. An original paper advertising flyer for the Biggest Show of Stars caravan tour in 1957 featuring nine eventual members of the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. This very scarce leaflet advertised the tour's stop in Portland, Oregon on Tuesday, October 22, 1957.

    This is easily one of the best rock 'n' roll concert pieces ever made, if not the best, which many collectors feel it is. The talent line-up is simply off the charts, with four certified founding fathers of rock 'n' roll under one roof (Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and the Everly Brothers). Plus five more also in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Eddie Cochran, The Drifters, Frankie Lymon, LaVern Baker and Clyde McPhatter). Take a look... that's the top three rows of performers advertised here who were all enshrined in the Rock Hall generations later. That is just crazy, not to mention unprecedented.

    Heritage realized $32,500 for the larger poster version of this piece (from another city) last fall. Measures 6 1/8" x 9" and grades to Very Good condition. COA from Heritage Auctions.


    More Information: Nobody saved anything in the 1950's, and this flyer epitomizes that. This was a three-month tour, with posters & handbills made for a good number of the tour stops (not all of them, by any stretch), but once again you have your "99% of them were thrown away" factor.

    The handbill's design and colors are simply spellbinding. A five-color gem using black, red, yellow, white and blue to amazing effect. Ovals, banners, squares, circles, floating heads, scattered stars, hit song titles... it's a true masterpiece of 1950's rock 'n' roll advertising for the brand new musical genre teenagers were going nuts for.

    It's amazing that this was so early in Buddy Holly's career that his name wasn't broken out of the band yet. Their first hit on Brunswick Records - "That'll Be the Day," given above their name - had billed them as just The Crickets, so that's why this handbill does. And Buddy isn't even wearing his trademark horn-rimmed glasses yet! Those are standard wire-rims. At least his suit is of a different color than the dark ones worn by Niki Sullivan, Jerry Allison and Joe B. Mauldin, setting him apart as the lead Cricket.

    And "That'll Be the Day"... what a fantastic song to have on a 1950's rock 'n' roll concert piece. It had been #1 on the national charts in late summer, Buddy's only chart-topper (believe it or not). And at the time of this show, Buddy's follow-up single had just entered Billboard's singles chart, and already snuck into the Top 20... a little record called "Peggy Sue." Could Holly be any hotter right now?

    And let's not forget, just a few months later, a band of Liverpool, England scruffians named the Quarry Men entered a cheap recording studio and cut an acetate of this song... the very first-ever Beatles recording.

    As for the venue box at the bottom, have you gotten a load of those ticket prices? From $3.50 (probably the first couple of rows only) all the way down to two bucks. If you bought the cheapest ticket, you'd be paying like 14 cents per act to watch the show, and probably about a nickel a song. Sheesh!

    Remember: Nine hall-of-famers and below them, everyone else on the poster still had #1 hits. Goodness gracious. If you sat down to design a fantasy concert poster for rock 'n' roll's first phase, this would be it. It would knock anybody out, young or old, sitting framed on somebody's desk.

    More on the music: Chuck Berry's fabled hit "School Day" was made plural (and one word) for this advertisement, and its anthemic lyrics delivered a message to America's youth that a pop-culture tidal wave was upon them: "Hail, hail, rock and roll / Deliver me from the days of old." If there's one line from a 50's rock song that symbolized the new beginning, that one might be it.

    Fats Domino doesn't have a song title by his name, but that may be because the designer had too many choices. The year of 1957 began with Fats' "Blueberry Hill" in Billboard's national Top 5. He soon entered the pop charts again with a Top 5 follow-up, "Blue Monday." Then "I'm Walkin'" followed that, another Top 5 mainstream single. Fats didn't stop to catch his breath... his next 45 was a double-sided hit with both tunes landing in the national Top 10 pop charts... "It's You I Love" and "Valley of Tears."

    And that was just the first half of '57. You wanna try to pick a song for this flyer?

    The Everly Brothers actually had the highest-charting current hit of anyone on this handbill in mid-October '57... but no, it wasn't "Bye Bye Love," their first hit from earlier that year, and gloriously given under their name... it was their classic follow-up, "Wake Up Little Susie." That was number two right now, and would soon ascend to number one. So like Buddy Holly, they had a killer listed on the handbill and a newer sizzler currently on the charts. Yowza!

    The presence of the Everly Bros. on this piece is actually a big, big plus. They were present for only part of this tour. So on some of the very scarce other handbills we've seen from elsewhere on this tour, that blue stripe they're in simply says "All In Person." You can see that version on page 31 in the Art of Rock book. Wow, what a difference between having one of the 50's most successful and cool pop acts, like we do here, and... nothing at all. Everybody wants the Everly Bros. version of this handbill, but of course you almost never get a shot at either.

    Eddie Cochran has a small spot and no song title down in the lower left, but he was simmering and ready to boil. He had had one Top 20 pop hit thus far with "Sittin' in the Balcony," but his true masterpiece, "Summertime Blues," would have to wait for the following summer.

    Back up top, in the front-row-center position you have R&B songstress Lavern Baker, and it's terrific that "Jim Dandy" is given as her song title. It was her biggest hit ever, her only #1 R&B record, and certainly her most recognizable hit to this day.

    Frankie Lymon had given us the evergreen "Why Do Fools Fall in Love" the year before with the Teenagers, but he was on his own now. "Goody Goody" was a standard from the 30's that Frankie turned into a Top 20 pop hit for himself, so that's yet another winning song title to have here. Have we hit a clunker yet?

    Certainly not with ex-Drifter Clyde McPhatter and "Long Lonely Nights." That was nothing less than a #1 R&B hit for the Durham, North Carolina native.

    Speaking of The Drifters, they get neither a photo nor a song title in the lower right, but it wasn't for a lack of hits. The group had amassed 13 Top 10 R&B hits up to this point, granted with varying lead singers (including McPhatter). It would be a couple of more years before they started to mess up the pop charts with Ben E. King at the mic, giving us "Up on the Roof," "On Broadway" and "Under the Boardwalk" in the 60's.

    Time to hit the bottom row, but a warning: There are no slouchers. This leaflet is so stuffed with talent that even a #1 pop hit earlier this year, "Party Doll," couldn't get Buddy Knox further up in the artwork. Jimmy Bowen and the Rhythm Orchids were basically his backing group, so they share that #1 credit, too. Bowen himself would soon become a record producer for Sinatra, Sammy and Dean, and then become a successful record-company president in Nashville in later years.

    The Diamonds had a Top 20 pop hit with "Zip Zip," given on the flyer, but the song that defined their career was a hit that came a few months earlier... "Little Darlin'."

    Paul Anka could relate to Buddy Knox... he, too, had a #1 pop hit earlier this year, but still got bottom-billing... there was just no room above him. But the Canadian native was only 16 years old at this show, so he had time to get over the slight, and would soon be headlining himself.

    You probably assume that's it, but what about the blue stripe at the bottom? Paul Williams... hmmm... well, in 1949 he had one hit that spent more time at #1 than all of the #1 hits listed above, combined... "The Huckle-Buck," which spent a head-spinning 14 weeks at Numero Uno R&B. We're telling you, the only way to find a clunker on this handbill is to turn it over.

    As a side note, it also has not one but two tragedies attached to it, with Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran both suffering an early death in the next three years. Sad indeed.

    Condition details: The handbill has three evenly spaced horizontal creases, probably from when it was folded down to mail in an envelope. The bottom fold breaks no color in "Paramount Theatre," but the top one breaks a little color in the black, and the middle one breaks the blue in the Everly Bros. box (and goes right under Eddie Cochran's eyes). There's also a brown blemish under the "E" in "Tuesday" and a dark mark in the white near that. Verso has a larger version of the very light brown stain, meaning it originated on the backside and bled through just a little. Slightly toned throughout.

    Literature: See Grushkin, Paul, The Art of Rock - Posters from Presley to Punk, Abbeville Press, New York, 1987, p.31 (illus.) (AOR-1.21).


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2021
    1st-2nd Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 18
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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