Music posters are an art-form that has persisted through decades and will continue to exist for many more and finding the best music posters of all time isn’t an easy task.
Music posters have several forms, and over time some of the images on posters have been as iconic as the music itself, or the artist in the imagery. Gig posters and band posters have often defined certain aspects of musical careers for artists, and graphic designers across the globe have become famous for the creations.
As music constantly evolves, so too does the artistry behind posters, with modern digital designs changing the way some poster art is created. There will always be the element of original hand-painted designs which are now converted to digital form. In this modern era, there is also extremely advanced technology that can create somewhat unfathomable designs and colors.
Posters are an avenue where graphic designers can indulge their passion for music and art together. From the psychedelic ’60s to the anarchist punk era of the ‘80s, Hip Hop, Heavy Metal and modern Pop music, each style of music created new panaches in design.
Generally endorsed by each artist or band, posters are usually printed in limited editions, and sell out instantly or only in specific markets, like at live shows. Here are some of the best music posters of all time.
Rolling Stones Hot Lips Poster
The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London, England in 1962. The Stones were at the frontline of the British Invasion of groups that became popular in the USA in the mid-60’s.
This poster which introduced the Hot Lips logo was created for their 1971 LP, Sticky Fingers. This image has come to signify the Rolling Stones, and to this day, almost 60 years later is still iconic. This poster is the perfect purchase for classic rock ‘n’ roll fans across the globe.
Pink Floyd Carnegie Hall 1972 Poster
Pink Floyd was a London-based rock band that formed in 1965. They rose to international fame with their psychedelically progressive music. Famous for their philosophical lyrics and elaborate live performances, they are one of the most influential and successful bands in popular music history.
In 1972 Pink Floyd was on tour promoting the album Dark Side of The Moon tour. This poster immortalizes their performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City, and the iconic poster is well-known across the world.
The Beatles Abbey Road Poster
Possibly THE most iconic image in modern musical history, the Beatles Abbey Road album cover is also one of the most iconic band posters ever. Abbey Road was the English rock band’s eleventh studio album. The image shows band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, walking across a crossing in Abbey Road London. The crossing was located on Abbey Road, outside the famous recording studio called Abbey Road Studios, where they recorded the album of the same name.
David Bowie Aladdin Sane Album Poster
David Bowie was an English musician who was widely-recognized in popular music for over fifty years. his innovative work was highly-acclaimed by fellow musicians and critics alike. His record sales reached well over 140 million albums worldwide. Aladdin Sane was his sixth studio album and was released in 1973. Although not his most highly acclaimed album, this poster image is undoubtedly one of the most iconic images of Bowie himself.
Jimi Hendrix Psychedelic Poster
James Marshall “Jimi” Hendrix was an American guitarist/singer/songwriter. His mainstream career only spanned four years but remains to this day, one of the most influential guitarists in history. This image originally created in 1967 is one of the most iconic images of Jimi Hendrix.
The Doors Faces in windows
Although there were many widely renowned images of the doors, this poster is one of the highest selling images in poster art history across the world. The Doors were an American rock band formed in 1965 with vocalist Jim Morrison. They were among the most influential and controversial bands of the 1960s. Morrison’s unpredictable stage persona and charismatic lyrics were a big reason they were so popular.
Pink Floyd ‘Back’ Catalogue Poster
This image is one of the most famous images in rock history. Once again featured for Pink Floyd, the image was commissioned by EMI in 1997, to advertise the release of the Pink Floyd’s “back” catalog. The image was taken by Tony May and featured the cover art of six Pink Floyd albums painted onto the model’s backs.
AC/DC Live at Reading Festival 1976
AC/DC was an Australian rock band, formed in 1973. A hard rock/blues rock band, AC/DC have sold over 200 million records, adding them to the list of the world’s best-selling music artists. This image is very well-known and features a live AC/DC performance at Reading Festival in 1976.
Bob Dylan Cigarette and Guitar
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for over fifty years. Although most of his celebrated work dates back to the 1960s, Dylan’s lyrics are to this day an inspiration to musicians across the world. This iconic music poster art is an early representation of Dylan’s of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences.
Bruce Springsteen Born in the USA
Bruce Springsteen is an American musician, commonly known as ‘The Boss.’ He is very well-known for poetic lyrics, his distinctive voice, and his energetic live performances.
One of the world’s best-selling artists of all time, Springsteen has over 20 Grammy Awards to his name, two Golden Globes, an Academy Award, a Tony Award and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This image is one of the most iconic images of “The Boss” and is from his most-famous 1984 “Born in the USA” album.
Janis Joplin Black and White
Janis Joplin was one of the most successful American singer/songwriters of her era. After the release of her third high-selling album, she died at the age of 27. This poster art image is almost as famous as Janis Joplin herself.
Led Zeppelin Starship Poster Art
Led Zeppelin was a British rock band that formed in 1968. The group consisted of iconic guitarist Jimmy Page, world-renowned singer Robert Plant, keyboardist/bassist John Paul Jones, and drummer John Bonham. The band’s guitar-driven sound led them to be named as one of the founding fathers of heavy metal. Their music was influenced by blues, folk music, and psychedelia.
The image of Led Zeppelin is the most iconic image of the band, who were touted as both the heaviest band of all time and as influential to the 70’s as the Beatles were to the 60’s.
Queen Freddie Mercury
Queen was a British rock band that formed in 1970. The classic line-up of Queen included Freddie Mercury on lead vocals and piano.
Queen’s music was influenced by progressive, hard rock and heavy metal, but they ventured into more conservative radio-friendly music by integrating addiction music styles, like arena rock and pop rock.
The last concert featuring their original line up took place at Knebworth to over a hundred and twenty thousand people in August 1986. Mercury died In 1991 of bronchopneumonia, which was a complication of AIDS. This image is one of the most well-known images of Mercury, performing in 1983.
Kurt Cobain Music Poster Art
Kurt Cobain was an American musician in the band Nirvana. At the forefront of the Seattle grunge music scene, Nirvana’s debut album Bleach was released in 1989.
Nirvana found most global success with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” from their 1991 album Nevermind. Nirvana was labeled “the flagship band” of Generation X, and Cobain was known as the spokesman of a generation. He committed suicide in 1994. This iconic image is from his last official photo-shoot before his death.
Johnny Cash Folsom Prison
Johnny Cash was one of the best-selling American music artists of all time, having sold more than 90 million records. Although mostly recognized as an icon of country music, his sound embraced elements of rock and roll, country, rockabilly, folk, blues, and gospel.
In the late 1950s, Cash began playing concerts at prisons and became an international hit in 1969 when he eclipsed the Beatles by selling 6.5 million albums.
The album by Johnny Cash titled Folsom Prison record was recorded in Folsom Prison, and this image was taken at the prison during the performance. It remains one of the most well-known images in music history and is one of the highest-selling music art posters of all time.
Prince Purple Rain
Prince Rogers Nelson was an American musician, singer/songwriter, record producer, actor, and film director. He was known simply as Prince for a majority of his career.
He was known for his colorful stage presence, extravagant costumes onstage and flamboyant fashion sense, incredible instrumental abilities, and wide vocal range. His ground-breaking music combined an extensive variety of styles, including rock, funk, R&B, blues, new wave, soul, pop, and psychedelia. Price was one of the highest-selling artists of all time and peddled over 100 million records worldwide.
In 1984, Prince won an Academy Award for his film Purple Rain. He subsequently won two Grammy Awards for the ‘Purple Rain film soundtrack.
This album quickly became his most highly-successful release, spending 24 weeks on top of the Billboard 200. The album sold over 20 million copies worldwide, and this is an image of Prince performing the song Purple Rain, with his equally iconic ‘Cloud Guitar’.