Book review: The Art of Rock Posters


Title: The Art of Rock Posters: from Presley to Punk
Author: Paul D. Grushkin
Publisher: Abbeville Press
Cost: $40.00

I hadn't thought of reviewing this book before now, because I got it several years ago. Then, the other day, I needed to look up something in it, plus I noticed several blurbs on the Internet that indicate that they are still trying to sell it, so what the hell, here's my review.

Although this is a nice nostalgia book to have on your coffee table to impress your friends, it is also an important reference book for any Hippie archivist. It will save you a lot of trips to the library and searching on-line. Not only does it have much of the artwork that came out of the Haight-Ashbury, but it also has a lot of information about the poster artists. Another thing you can use this book for is to find out which groups played which hall on which night. That's important information you need when researching the Haight-Ashbury.

It is an oversize hard cover book that starts with the pre-Haight-Ashbury posters (which are little more than ads for rock concerts). Then, in the mid sixties, the posters suddenly become psychedelic works of art. Although about half of the book deals with the psychedelic posters, it then moves on to what I call the post-sixties bringdown era and finally, punk. What the intent seems to be here was to cover all the rock posters, but I wished they had stuck with the Haight-Ashbury and to hell with the rest of it. If they had done that, they could have had bigger reproductions of the posters so that it would be possible to read more information on them.

The book has two important poster sets from the Haight-Ashbury era, the Family Dog set and the Bill Graham set. Not all of the posters from these two sets are included, however. Most of the important Acid Test posters are also included, as well as some items from the Trips Festival. Other items besides posters are also included, such as bumper stickers, concert tickets (including the ones for Woodstock) and backstage passes. That made me feel bad, because all the backstage passes I had to wear were so plain-Jane compared to the ones in the book.

This is the kind of book that caught my eye and I took one look at it and knew I needed to get it. Here's the blurb on this book.


Copyright 1995, Colin Pringle
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