I PUBLISHED TWO ARTICLES on Elvis posters from 1956. While researching those items, I came across this poster from 1955 with Faron Young at the top of the bill and Elvis at the bottom. Some sources refer to this poster as one of the few Holy Grails in the world of rock & roll posters!
I acknowledge that I have little expertise in historical or collectible posters. I wrote the articles because these specific items could be of interest to collectors of Elvis records, an area where I do have some expertise.
It’s stunning to find one of the most important figures of the 20th century bottom-billed.
I found the top-billed Faron Young poster on the Heritage Auctions website and immediately found another on the Robert Edward Auctions site. Fortunately, both sites had lengthy descriptions so I relied on their expertise (and their words) to describe this poster.
The poster is a cardboard “window card” approximately 14 x 22 inches in size. It is a “boxing-style” poster that advertises a country-music concert in Memphis, Tennessee for February 6, 1955.
The poster notes the inclusion of “Memphis’ Own Elvis Presley” and noted Scotty Moore and Bill Black. It also stated that “He’ll Sing ‘Heartbeaker’ – ‘Milk Cow Boogie’,” somehow messing up both titles, Milkcow Blues Boogie and You’re A Heartbreaker.
Memphis’ own Elvis Presley
But first, a little country & western history. By the time of this concert, top-billed Faron Young had four Top 10 hits on the national country charts extending into the ’70s. The poster notes “If You Ain’t Lovin,” which was the first half of the title of his most recent hit If You Ain’t Lovin’ (You Ain’t Livin’).
Second on the bill is Martha Carson, noted as the “Beautiful Gospel Singer” on the poster. Carson was primarily known as a gospel singer with a rather complicated professional career that kept her from recording for several years.
Next came Ferlin Huskey (and that is how his name was spelled on his early records), who was riding high with his fourth Top 10 country hit. The poster notes The Hushpuppies, which was the name of Huskey’s band.
In the fourth spot on the bill were the Wilburn Brothers (Doyle and Teddy), who had had their first hit the year before.
This is one of the few Holy Grails
Here is an abridged version of what the Robert Edward Auctions expert had to say about this item in 2006 (slightly modified for stylistic consistency):
“In the eyes of many advanced music historians and Elvis collectors, this is the single most significant and historic of all early Elvis Presley concert posters. This is the second earliest of all known Elvis posters. But the special historical significance of this poster lies in the fact that it was at this very concert that Elvis first met Colonel Tom Parker, his legendary manager and partner, who guided his career to future stardom.
The seeds of the future of rock & roll are represented here. This is an onsite relic that tells a story and the story is how Elvis Presley—and rock & roll—came to explode onto the music scene and into the national consciousness, forever changing music and popular culture, in America and the entire world.
This poster was literally a signpost on the road to the birth of rock & roll. Without this concert date, and what transpired on that date, the world would be a very different place. In the world of rock & roll posters, this is one of the few Holy Grails.”
This text seems rife with hyperbole. I don’t know what an “advanced music historian” nor do I know what an “advanced Elvis collector” is. That this is the “single most significant and historic of all early Elvis Presley concert posters” and that it tells a story about “how Elvis Presley and rock & roll came to explode onto the music scene and into the national consciousness” seems a bit much to me.
But, as I said, posters are not an area I claim any expertise. So this may very well be one of the few Holy Grails in the world of rock & roll posters.
To see the full text on the Robert Edward Auctions page, click here.
The poster pictured above (image 1) “shows wear, including some minor staining and a few creases, abrasions, and tears. While technically in Good condition, the integrity of the sign remains completely intact. This poster is in all-original condition, with no restoration whatsoever.
Despite the damage, this poster sold for $34,800.
This is as good as it gets
Here is an abridged version of what the Heritage Auctions expert had to say about this item in 2021 (slightly modified for stylistic consistency):
“In many respects, this is as good as it gets. It’s stunning to find one of the most important figures of the 20th century bottom-billed before he had ever touched the Billboard charts, C&W or otherwise. It’s the second-earliest Elvis Presley concert poster known to man (by less than a month).
To have Elvis’s third Sun Records single plugged, to have his guitarist and bassist name-checked, and to have the four colors of red, white, blue & brown when every other 50’s Elvis poster was just three colors at best—this window card is a real gem.
Notice there were two concerts, at 3:00 & 8:00 PM. Between the shows, Elvis had dinner across the street with Sam Phillips and his future manager, Colonel Tom Parker, in their first-ever formal meeting. How would you like to have been the fourth person in that booth?”
The poster pictured above (image 2) had been quarter-folded and has crease lines plus other surface creases. It has “general toning throughout, with areas of heavy browning in the lower half.” The poster has been restored with the creases “professionally minimized through treatment, including light touch-up blue and red color here & there, and the brown at the top.”
Heritage graded this item as being “restored Very Good condition.” Despite the damage and restoration, this poster sold for $32,500.
To see the full text on the Heritage Auctions page, click here.
Avid Record Collector’s Price Guide
In 2021, Heritage sold two copies of this poster: the copy above sold for $32,500 while a repaired copy sold for $27,500.
In 2012, Heritage sold a damaged copy with multiple tears that have been sealed and both bottom corners missing for $11,875.
In 2006, Robert Edward Auctions sold the copy above for $34,800.
So, damaged copies with or without professional repair work sell in the $30,000–35,000 range. I haven’t a clue what a nearly mint copy would sell for. But, hypothetically, if one turned up and if I had the money and if I wanted it, a six-figure bid would be easy to contemplate.
FEATURED IMAGE: Since the featured image at the top of this page already appeared in this article above, I am filling this space with a caricature of Elvis. This cool drawing of Elvis in 1956 was done by the artist Vizcarra. I have published eleven collections of Elvis caricatures on this blog; to view the first one, click here.
Here are links to the three other articles mentioned at the top of this page:
Mystically liberal Virgo enjoys long walks alone in the city at night in the rain with an umbrella and a flask of 10-year-old Laphroaig who strives to live by the maxim, “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a college dropout (twice!). Occupationally, I have been a bartender, jewelry engraver, bouncer, landscape artist, and FEMA crew chief following the Great Flood of ’72 (and that was a job that I should never, ever have left).
I am also the final author of the original O’Sullivan Woodside price guides for record collectors and the original author of the Goldmine price guides for record collectors. As such, I was often referred to as the Price Guide Guru, and—as everyone should know—it behooves one to heed the words of a guru. (Unless, of course, you’re the Beatles.)