Did you hang my picture on your wall?
The 1970s gave us glam, teen pop, funk, punk, disco and new wave. And at every step of the way, some of our most treasured possessions were the big, glossy posters that adorned our bedroom walls. They asserted our allegiances, fuelled our fantasies and let our friends know where we stood in the grand scheme of rock & roll.
We still remember them this way: with yellowing strips of Sellotape stuck diagonally across the corners, with the faint aroma of illicit cigarette smoke clinging to them, with the wear, tear and graffiti that accumulated over the years.
Quarter of a century later, mass-marketed rock posters are belatedly achieving recognition as a populist art form in their own right. Posters from the Seventies those that survived the passing of fashions and the ravages of teenage parties are becoming hugely desirable, occupying a place somewhere between memorabilia and statements of style. Auction houses report that they form the fastest growing area of pop merchandising and, as the sounds and images of the Seventies continue to impact on popular culture, these artefacts are again being seen as a shorthand declaration of intent.
Roger Crimlis has spent twenty-five years collecting classic posters from the era, from disposable High Street cash-ins through to promotional pieces. The collection follows a specific thread in rock culture that was artistically literate, and that retains its popularity and influence today. Avoiding both the more progressive end of rock and the frothier novelties of pop, it steers a course somewhere between Mike Oldfield and Mike Batt, centring instead on glam, punk and the new wave.
It starts with the glitterati of Bowie, Bolan, Roxy and Alice, picks up US scene-makers like Lou Reed and Iggy, covers both the New York and London punk pioneers and continues into the new pop of Adam & The Ants, a band who had grown up as glam fans and knew the power of marketing their image. It closes in 1982 as club culture took over from rock as the driving force of popular music.
The first fruit of this project was Suffragette Cities, an exhibition at the Pentagram Gallery in West London in July-August 2005.
A book was published by Aurum Press and BillBoard in September 2006 and a further exhibition staged at Bamalama Posters to coincide with publication.