Tower Records Original Poster Calendar KZAP 1979 "Smoky Eyes" Lithograph By Frank Carson
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This original printing was published by Tower Records in 1979. It's a high-quality lithograph created by Frank Carson. The light tone at about mid poster is from the lights. This is a beautiful, flawless poster/calendar with rich, bold colors.
Illustrator: Frank Carson Year: 1979 Size: 12 11/16 x 39 5/16 Method: Offset Lithograph
These very collectible Tower Records calendars and art prints were made throughout Tower's long tenure billed as the "greatest record store in the known world. "
The number of prints Tower did over the years is unknown. They date back to the early '60s and might have been one-offs celebrating a concert, a poster created to be used in-store to publicize a certain release or just a fun thing printed up because somebody liked a band and wanted to do something nice for them. Cat Stevens, the Jefferson Airplane and Bob Dylan were just a few of the artists whose image or work graced early Tower prints.
Later, the prints and calendars publicized store openings or took the form of calendars which touted the local radio stations in Tower store markets all over the country.
We think the first Tower calendar was published in 1975. Tower created calendars for almost three decades, most of which were produced in cooperation with the radio stations, who would pay or trade for the insertion of their logo on a certain number of the calendars. The printing plates were changed to create numerous editions with each station or sponsor's logo, and the result would then be distributed primarily through the Tower stores in that particular market, but also by the stations during promotions. They were highly sought-after and often turned up in TV sitcoms and movies, such as the music movie FM or the long-running TV sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.
The Tower prints featured high-quality lithography on heavy coated stock. Artist Frank Carson did virtually all of the calendars from the early '70s through the '90s. They are quite beautiful, evolving from early shots of bountiful hippie chicks and deco Egyptian themes to bountiful contemporary chicks surrounded by symbols of popular culture. After Carson mysteriously disappeared in the late '80s, a number of different approaches were used to adorn the calendars, from hiring notable fine artists like Jerald Silva to acquiring art by holding competitions between store artists and employees.
These art prints and calendars, especially the early and very late years, are increasingly rare. More than any record chain, the iconic Tower Records, with its aisles teeming with record business vibes as customers, retail buyers and record company salesmen bought, sold and talked music and recordings, has become representative of a record store culture that has all but vanished.