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Janis Joplin at Madison Square Garden concert poster

Contributed by Florian Hardwig on Aug 20th, 2023. Artwork published in .
Janis Joplin at Madison Square Garden concert poster
Source: Heritage Auctions. License: All Rights Reserved.

Seymour Chwast’s bottom-heavy Art Tone used in all caps for a cardboard poster advertising a concert by Janis Joplin that took place at Madison Square Garden, New York, on December 19, 1969.

From Heritage Auctions (with added links):

Janis Joplin stormed the Big Apple at Christmastime 1969 and appeared at hallowed Madison Square Garden, and this original advertising window card sold tickets for the appearance. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band opened the show.

Joplin’s I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! album was still in the top 20 of Billboard’s album chart, eventually leading to the naming of her Kozmic Blues Band. They aren’t mentioned on the poster, however, because they hadn’t adopted that name with enough formality to be used on this poster. And guess what? This was the last show the Kozmic Blues Band ever played with Janis. It was the last stop of her 1969 tour.

John Byrne Cook was Janis Joplin’s road manager from 1967 until the time of her death, and his On the Road with Janis Joplin book was published in 2014. He remembers this evening well. “The new indoor stadium is vast, modern and sold out,” he writes of this gig. “The crowd is liberally sprinkled with celebrities, including New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath, with whom Janis caroused the night before.” That’s right, she spent the night with Broadway Joe before hitting the Garden for arguably the biggest single concert of her career. During her show, she even leads the crowd in a rousing cheer for the Jets, says Cook. But alas… he lost that Sunday’s Jets game.

Late in the show, Janis performs Bo Diddley’s “Bo Diddley” with her fellow Texan and guest star, guitar whiz Johnny Winter. “The song becomes an extended jam when Paul Butterfield joins them onstage,” Cook writes. “The response of the audience is ecstatic.”

And how’s this: At a post-concert party thrown by Columbia Records president Clive Davis in his penthouse suite, Janis finally meets another CBS gold-plated star for the first time, Bob Dylan. “They shake hands, speak haltingly, fall into an awkward silence, and go their separate ways,” Cook writes. “Dylan is in his recluse mode. Once he finds a quiet place to sit, he seems to disappear.”

But back to the show. According to Alice Echols’ book Scars of Sweet Paradise: The Life and Times of Janis Joplin, she was performing Otis Redding’s “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” and then paused. She admonished the audience to loosen up indeed: “I don’t know what the fuck you’re doing sitting down,” she blurted. “This is rock and roll! Ain’t nothing complicated about that.” Sure enough, the crowd started pouring into the aisles and up to the front of the stage. “Before Janis had finished the song,” Echols writes, “the entire audience was on its feet, and the main floor at the Garden started to shake so much some worried it might collapse.” Janis was going out with a bang.

Printed in orange and pink on a jet-black poster, 13¼″×19⅞″. Secondary info is set in caps from Helvetica. The Madison Square Garden logo uses Helvetica schmalhalbfett. The wide style used in mixed case is not part of the Helvetica family, though, but belongs to the similar Folio. No designer credited. The photo of Joplin is by Elliot Landy.


  • Chwast Art Tone
  • Helvetica
  • Folio
  • Helvetica Condensed




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