A Rock & Roll Gem
One of the very first concert posters to ever use the phrase “Rock and Roll” was made in 1955 for a show in Chattanooga.
The show, which was held at Memorial Auditorium, featured nine acts, including Chuck Berry. There were probably only a couple of other posters that had ever used the term “Rock and Roll” before this one, according to music historian and poster collector Pete Howard.
“It's not the first, but it's one of the first,” says Howard. Howard thinks there may be one or two other posters from 1954 that used the phrase “Rock and Roll” as well.
The poster is also Chuck Berry's earliest known tour poster. There's only one earlier known poster with his name on it, and it was from a hometown concert in St. Louis.
One more thing that makes this poster unique?
"There's no other 'Chuck Berry Trio' concert posters known to exist."
"He dropped the 'trio' shortly after [this concert],” says Howard.
“So, to have the great picture of Chuck, holding that guitar, the way he is, in his stage outfit... and having it right under the words 'Big Rock and Roll Show.' It's just a nearly perfect early vintage rock and roll concert poster. It's just a gem.”
The Chattanooga show would have been one stop on a tour. And, it's likely the other stops would have used the same image to advertise. But, only the poster from the Chattanooga show has resurfaced.
“Chattanooga was a very important stop for a lot of touring acts in the 50s,” Howard says. The city, was part of the something called the Chitlin Circuit. “Down South was very important to these performers, in front of mostly all black audiences.”
In Chattanooga, most of these shows stopped at Memorial Auditorium.
“It was a hotbed of activity. Anybody living and of age who attended these shows saw a lot of history,” says Howard.