Rock Concert Posters by Local Artist
A Pleasant Hill artist celebrates the East Bay’s rich rock history with posters from classic concerts in our backyard.
We’re not making money; we’re just having fun, was not only the mentality of bands during the time of free love and rock ‘n’ roll, but also of another artist: Pleasant Hill’s Thomas Morris. He created psychedelic rock posters for East Bay music venues in the late 1960s and early ’70s.
During this time, Morris befriended concert promoters who gave him his start. “These were promoters that were before Bill Graham,” he says. “Bill Quarry and his Teens ’N Twenties [concerts] had Sonny and Cher at the Castro Valley Roller Rink.”
Decades before the invention of Photoshop, Morris spent hours perusing magazines at Berkeley bookstores in search of inspiring pictures. Then, he’d use different camera techniques to marry images of, say, naked women with a portrait of Jim Morrison—a design he used for a festival poster currently on display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s traveling exhibit.
Now, Morris is bringing the ’60s and ’70s back through a special-edition Contra Costa County Rock History boxed set, which is perfect for any classic rock–loving dad this Father’s Day. Each features 13 prints Morris created for local venues—including the Rheem Theatre, Contra Costa County Fairgrounds, and Concord Armory—where Fleetwood Mac, Tower of Power, and Jerry Garcia once took the stage.
“What’s really fun about the renaissance of my work is I’m able to go back into broken-up, torn, shredded, even smoke-stained prints, and we have hi-res scans that I can spend time—sometimes hours—touching up, correcting them and making them perfect,” Morris says. Box sets include 13 full-size prints for $350, while note card sets of 13 cost $30, tmrockposters.com.