Tower Records Original Poster Smoking Blonde Frank Carson 1980 KZAP Radio Sacto
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This original printing was published by Tower Records in 1980 in partnership with legendary Sacramento FM station KZAP. It's a high-quality lithograph created by Frank Carson. Note the radio dial has the correct 98.5 setting for KZAP back then.
Illustrator: Frank Carson Method: Offset Lithograph Year: 1980 Size: 12 13/16 x 39
These early Tower Records calendars and art prints are, simply, magnificent. Frank Carson's art is rich and fanciful, they are printed on beautiful paper and feature stunning lithography.
And they represent the blazing peak of a record industry that will never be the same.
Tower's created them for most of its long tenure as the "greatest record store in the known world." The exact number of prints that were done is unknown. They date back to the early '60s. They might be 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.
This format was the precursor to the ubiquitous (at least in the day) Tower calendars. 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, which would then be distributed through the Tower stores in that particular market. The calendars were highly sought after and 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.
These calendars are increasingly rare. More than any record chain, the iconic Tower Records has become a symbol of the halcyon days of prerecorded sound on disc.