1971 Led Zeppelin Rutherford College University of Kent Canterbury Poster Extra Fine 63

closed on Thursday, June 20, 2024

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The study of rock concert posters takes the student down many paths. Rock and roll itself was born out of controversy. American society in the 1950s was sustaining its racist and sexist cultural norms, and conformity marked the postwar climate. From its inception, rock and roll was categorized as “race music,” and when it broke through to white teenage audiences, it was declared the Devil's Music by the Holy Rollers of the day, thus becoming the forbidden fruit. Rock music has earned its position as the “in-your-face” American art form, often taking on taboo themes of the human condition. The term itself was a euphemism for sex, and now, 70 years since its inception, the genre has explored the dark aspects of the human condition. Sex, violence, death, crime, anger, despair, deceit - it's all in there!


The nature of rock music has also allowed its creators to poke fun at the sacred cows of religion, politics, industry, and law enforcement, and in this instance, history's psychopaths. Enter this poster for a 1971 Led Zeppelin concert. At the time of the event, Led Zeppelin was on a trajectory to become the most popular band in the history of rock and roll. Zeppelin ruled the ‘70s, and their history of success and excess is well documented. The band no longer required posters to sell tickets; they sold out everywhere they played regardless. Especially on their home turf, ticket demand far outweighed supply.


Proper context is required to understand this evocative poster. In England in 1971, the population viewed Adolf Hitler not only as a vile dictator but also as a dolt, a clown to be ridiculed. The British Blitzkrieg left deep scars on the English psyche. This poster was intended as parody, irony, and dark humor, never as a homage to the greatest villain of the 20th century. The German text in the word balloon, "Danke Baedeker," refers to “Baedeker travel guides,” a series of German travel books published by Karl Baedeker beginning in the 1830s. Hitler and his generals used the British Baedeker guide to target and bomb treasured cultural sites in 1942. The choice of Canterbury as a target was curious, but dimwitted Nazis chose this quaint little town because of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, one of the most important works of English literature.


British humor has its own beauty that often escapes American audiences. For example, in 1971, the British comedy troupe Monty Python's Flying Circus had completed its second season for the BBC. The Pythons were known for their silliness, irreverence, and biting sarcasm. See Season 1, Episode 12 here: Monty Python - Mr. Hilter.


The concert was originally planned for a small space at Rutherford College, on the campus of the University of Kent, in Canterbury, UK, on March 10th, 1971. The concert was moved to the university's Sports Hall after Canterbury fire officers refused a license for the 1,000 tickets already sold for the Rutherford College dining hall.


Condition: Has been lightly conserved by a professional conservator. Handling creases pressed and tears lightly repaired with tape on the reverse.


--TITLE: Led Zeppelin University of Kent Canterbury Poster
--GRADE: Extra Fine 63
--PERFORMERS: Led Zeppelin
--VENUE: Rutherford College, University of Kent
--CITY: Canterbury UK
--DATE: 3/10/1971
--SIZE: 19.94 x 30
--PRINTING: OP-1, Original Pre-Concert First Printing Poster


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