Kings of Concert Posters: Uncle Charlie

Clowns, spaceships and Pop Art collide in artist's colorful creations
By Peter Lindblad

Pantera White Zombie
1996 Original Silkscreen
Concert Poster Uncle
Charlie S/N
Flying machines have always fascinated Houston artist Charlie Hardwick, better known by his pseudonym Uncle Charlie.

The son of a Navy man who, for a time, was said to have piloted blimps and dabbled in oil painting, Uncle Charlie has always pushed the boundaries of Pop Art. Dreaming up explosively colorful scenes of insane absurdity, with bright, psychedelic scenes that harken back to the '60s, Uncle Charlie is fond of incorporating spaceships and other types of aircraft, along with his beloved cartoon images, in incredibly vivid and vibrant works.

Renowned for a style featuring striking outlines and surreal fractal landscapes, Uncle Charlie has gained a reputation as a uniquely talented concert poster artist. Major music acts such as U2, The Who, Metallica and Radiohead, to name just a few, have sought him out to produce artwork promoting gigs in venues around Houston and Austin.

Today, some of his handbills can go for as low as $5 to $13, while prices for many of his gig posters may range from $40 to $80, although some will fetch around $130 to $150 and others might push beyond $200 or more. Here's a gallery of some of his finest work for purchase:

Known for being humble and soft-spoken, Uncle Charlie, has persevered despite serious vision problems. Legally blind since 2003, Uncle Charlie continued to produce mind-blowing artwork long after, building off his acclaimed work in concert posters and commercial packaging designs.

Love & Rockets 1996 Original
Silkscreen Concert Poster
Uncle Charlie Art S/N
Born and bred in Houston, Hardwick started out playing in bands such as Blunt and local hardcore heroes Dresden 45 in the mid-1980s. While attending the University of Houston, he made a crucial decision not to waste his time with introductory design classes, instead switching to the Art Institute of Houston.

With the help of a musician friend, he found work at a design firm, where he stayed for 15 years as a senior designer. His commercial art graced products by Coke Food, Imperial Sugar and Minute Maid, but corporate downsizing in 2008 left him without a job. That led him to do more work with bands, although today Hardwick has immersed himself in doing more fine art.

On the side, for years, Hardwick had been moonlighting doing art for bands. In the late 1980s, he met the legendary concert poster artist Frank Kozik. Serving as Hardwick's mentor, it was Kozik who taught him a few tricks and encouraged the man who gained fame as Uncle Charlie to follow in his footsteps.

A few years later, in the early '90s, Hardwick was hired through a Cleveland gig poster broker to do a Smashing Pumpkins piece for a Houston-area concert promoter, Pace Concerts, that has long been one of his favorites. There's also a beautiful abstract piece he did for The Cure that so impressed the band that they asked for additional copies. Before that, he did fliers for all kinds of acts, but eventually, he settled on doing poster art, and the results speak for themselves. Below are works representative of Uncle Charlie's art.

The Who 1997 Original
Silkscreen Concert Poster
Uncle Charlie Art S/N

Weird Al Yankovic
2000 Original Concert
Promo Handbill Houston
Uncle Charlie Art

Foo Fighters 1995 Original
Silkscreen Concert Promo
Poster Uncle Charlie Art S/N

U2 PJ Harvey 2001 Original
Promo Concert Poster
Uncle Charlie Art Var 2

CD Review: Lita Ford – Time Capsule

CD Review: Lita Ford – Time Capsule
All Access Rating: A-

Lita Ford - Time Capsule 2016
Gathering dust for some time in Lita Ford's house in the Caribbean, the previously unreleased material comprising Time Capsule practically begged to be released. She's finally given in to its demands.

Here are Ford's "lost" treasures, made on the fly with some of the biggest names in '80s rock and metal. With her new book "Living Like a Runaway: Lita Ford, A Memoir" already out, Time Capsule, due out via Steamhammer/SPV, arrives carrying a lot of baggage. Open this suitcase of a record and songs reminiscent of Ford's stiletto-heeled, spandex-clad heyday come spilling out, as sleazy grooves and tough riffs snarl at aching ballads that are pretty on the outside but hurt down deep, all of it in keeping with the glorious pop-metal sound that propelled her to solo stardom decades ago.

Along with making the Jimi Hendrix instrumental "Little Wing" smolder with searing, bluesy intensity, Ford and company bump-and-grind through a nasty "Black Leather Heart" and roll around in the gutter with a defiant, rough-and-tumble "Rotten to the Core" – co-written by KISS bassist Gene Simmons, who also plays on the track. Tenacious and biting, her solos scratch any itch until it bleeds, especially on the growling, savage "Mr. Corruption," and her vocals go from wounded to sweet and coy and then angry in no time at all.

These and other tracks are laced with bittersweet, melodramatic melodies that taste of alkaline and sugar, as the crestfallen, yearning "Where Will I Find My Heart Tonight" – with guest vocals by Jeff Scott Soto, his slight rasp pairing well with Ford's pure passion – puts on a brave face and marches forth dressed in thorny hooks that also poke through the rising epic "War of the Angels" and a beautifully rendered "Killing Kind," with its sublime chorus and surprisingly tasteful mandolin provided by Jane's Addiction's Dave Navarro.

All sides of Ford's complicated and compelling personality fight for attention on Time Capsule, which is no mere odds-and-sods collection thrown together haphazardly just to fulfill contractual obligations with a record label. These are good, solid rock songs – some of the best she's ever written in fact – that have no expiration date. And yet, while the songwriting is tight and assured, and the production is vivid and lively, the vibe emanating from Time Capsule is one of a series of enjoyable, intimate jam sessions between old friends. Bassist extraordinaire Billy Sheehan appears here and there, and Cheap Trick's Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen providing complementary backing vocals on "Killing Kind." The stuff in this Time Capsule hasn't aged badly at all.
– Peter Lindblad

High five ... plus five: Top selling music memorabilia for March

New blog feature lists highest auction prices realized for vinyl records, concert posters
By Peter Lindblad

David Bowie - Low U.K. 1977 Original
Factory Sample
The fallout from David Bowie's death continues to impact the record-collecting market. That story and more are highlighted in the first installment of a new feature here at the All Access blog, which takes a monthly look at the best-selling vinyl records (classical records have been omitted) and other musical memorabilia on eBay.

Not found among the most expensive items sold in March is this U.K. 1977 original factory sample version – considered one of the first ever printed – of Bowie's Low photographed at right. Considered one of the first ever printed, this piece, described by the seller as "impossibly rare," went for $1,234. And yet, it did not even come close to sniffing the prices realized by three other Bowie lots that lead March's top-selling listings for records. A listing of top-selling concert posters for March is also included below:


David Bowie - Deram Japanese Stock
with "Both Obi's" 
1. David Bowie – David Bowie ($12,911.54): It doesn't get much better for collectors of David Bowie records than this. According to the seller, this Japanese version of David Bowie's self-titled album is in mint condition, having never been played, and is said to be the "the rarest David Bowie Deram LP on earth." Going further, the seller writes, that it is an unprecedented Deram stock copy DL-44 "in it's absolute complete day of release form" with the original strip OBI DL-44 – "the unfathomably rare mini OBI." It comes with the original lyric sheet and advert sheet. "I have owned five of these stock copies along the road, none with an OBI," continues the seller. "And nobody has even heard of this secondary mini OBI before." To read the complete backstory to this item, check it out on eBay.

David Bowie - Hunky Dory Preview
Pressing Only Four Copies Exist
2. David Bowie – Hunky Dory ($10,783.26): More from the Thin White Duke, there are only four known copies of this preview pressing. What makes this one special, according to the seller, is that it comes with the very first Hunky Dory sleeve ever printed. Previously used, the seller includes a detailed description of its flaws in the eBay write-up; however, the lot also comes with a handpicked stack of paperwork, a 12 1/2 x 12 1/2-inch promotional gatefold wraparound sleeve with pouches to house all the promo photos and paperwork that goes with the record.

The Beatles - LP Please Please Me -
Stereo First Pressing - Black And Gold
3. The Beatles – Please Please Me LP ($6,526.71): The 1963 release, catalog No. PCS 3042, is a stereo version of the Please Please Me LP. According to the seller's description, "The first copies of this record, like this one, were pressed with the elusive black and gold labels. This was due to Parlophone changing the label design to the more well-known black-and-yellow version. It is estimated that only 600 copies were ever pressed, making them extremely difficult to find." Adding to the unique character of these versions is a mistake, namely the publishing credit given to Dick James Music for the songs "I Saw Her Standing There," "Misery," "Do You Want to Know a Secret" and "There's a Place." Later pressings corrected the error, crediting Northern Songs. Furthermore, there is other evidence of this being housed in an original first pressing sleeve. It has an Ernest J. Day cover, with STEREO writ large on the front top right corner. A photo credit for Angus McBean is located on the front right bottom corner.

The Parliaments - This is My Rainy Day/
Getting Ready for the Summer
Cabell 115
4. The Parliaments – This is My Rainy Day ($5,324.55): An original Northern Soul rarity, this 7-inch single is in very good condition. Issued by the Cabell Records label in 1966, it is an original 1960s pressing, a first edition now out of print. Considered "the rarest of all records by The Parliaments," one of the groups featuring Archie Himon, aka Little Archie of Huntington, West Virginia, there are very few known copies of the single. Some say the reason is that the owner of Cabell Records wasn't happy with it. At least two known copies were out there, before this one was unearthed, according to the seller. They sold for between $4,400 and $6,400.

David Bowie - The Bowpromo
5. David Bowie – The Bowpromo ($5,188.73): In mint condition, this piece is thought to be among the most collectible David Bowie records around. Bowie sings all the songs on Side 1, while Dana Gillespie provides the vocals for Side 2. It contains different versions of songs on Hunky Dory that never made it on to the album. Descriptions of the songs here are said by the seller to be included on a number of web sites and of great interest to Bowie collectors due to their rarity. The seller claims to have purchased the record from Gillespie.

Concert posters:

Sam Cooke Five Royales Original
1958 Pre-Fillmore Boxing Style
Concert Poster
1. Sam Cooke – Five Royales Original 1958 Pre-Fillmore Boxing Style Concert Poster ($2,550): Soul/R&B legend Sam Cooke headlined this show at Chattanooga City's Auditorium in Tennessee on Sept. 29, 1958. Future Rock & Roll Hall of Fames the Five Royales opened for him, along with other acts. Measuring 21 5/8 x 28 1/4 inches, the original poster is on thick cardboard, similar to boxing-style posters. While it does show some damage, the poster is still highly prized by soul collectors, considering the profiles of these iconic soul and R&B artists.

Pink Floyd - Concert Poster 1970
Boston Tea Party
2. Pink Floyd – Concert Poster 1970 Boston Tea Party ($2,200): Extremely rare concert poster for Pink Floyd's show at the Boston Tea Party April 12, 1970. In very good condition, with sharp corners and no folds, the piece measures 17 x 17 inches. The Boston Tea Party was a concert venue at 53 Berkeley Street in Boston's South End neighborhood and played a role in the psychedelic movement. 

Grateful Dead - VTG 1970
Grateful Dead Tour Concert
Poster Psychedelic Art
MIT Armory Event
3. Grateful Dead  VTG 1970 Grateful Dead Tour Concert Poster Psychedelic Art MIT Armory Event ($2,100): An authentic Grateful Dead poster for the band's May 7, 1970 show at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Armory, this piece is printed on thick card stock and measures 11 x 14 inches. A pin hole, corner creases, smudges, stains and scuffs mar this poster, but the seller said the artwork "appears to have been hand-painted onto the poster since the art almost has a felt-like feel rather than what a screen print would feel on paper, and the opposite side shows a 'blueprint' of the finished poster." Additionally, two artists signed their names in the two bottom corners.

Tom Wilkes 1960s Rock
Concert Psychedelic Poster
4. Tom Wilkes 1960s Rock Concert Psychedelic Poster ($1,800): Here's a Tom Wilkes 1960s rock concert psychedelic poster from the Monterey International Pop Festival, one of the biggest events in rock history. Wilkes served as the art director for the festival, and between 1967 and 1969, he was the art director A&M Records. Responsible for many award-winning designs, Wilkes won a Grammy award for best recording packaging for Tommy performed by the London Symphony Orchestra & Choir. He also designed covers for legendary records, such as George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, Neil Young's Harvest and the Rolling Stones' Beggars' Banquet.The poster's framed dimensions are 26.75 x 41.5 inches.

KISS - Original KISS Blue
Oyster Cult New Year's Eve
Nassau Coliseum NY
Concert Poster
5. KISS – Original KISS Blue Oyster Cult New Year's Eve Nassau Coliseum NY Concert Poster ($1,336): Legendary rock acts KISS and Blue Oyster Cult were on the bill, with special guest the Leslie West Band. The poster was promoting a Dec. 31, 1975 show for KISS. It was the first New York area concert for the "ALIVE" North American Tour, the initial stop at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island. The seller claims to have received the poster from promoter Phil Basile, a Long Island promoter who worked with another legendary promoter, Ron Delsener. Not a copy or reproduction, this is a rare, original concert poster that has some creases and edge wear.