From Led Zepplin to Jimi Hendrix, the Classic Rock Art Show displays musical art for all.
The 11th Annual WMGK Classic Rock Art Show in Ardmore, Pa., transports visitors to a time when low rhythms of bass guitars pulsed through their veins as hot lights illuminated Jimi Hendrix or David Bowie standing center stage.
The Classic Rock Art Show, presented by 102.9 WMGK and Little Steven Van Zandt’s Rock and Roll Forever Foundation, is an extensive collection of rock ‘n’ roll masterpieces, ranging from photographs of Led Zeppelin to John
Lennon’s original drawings. In 1991, the curator of the show, Scott Segelbaum, created the Classic Rock Art Show in Los Angeles.
“I had worked in radio for over 20 years [and] I am a fan of classic rock,” Segelbaum said. “I love John Lennon’s artwork. Then I thought, it’s interesting – John Lennon, Jerry Garcia, David Burns from the Talking Heads and David Bowie went to art school. There is a common thread here. All of these people are artists, so I thought, ‘Why not do a rock ’n’ roll art show?’”
Segelbaum garnered artwork from classic rock musicians by soliciting band managers and publicists. He also received donations of artwork such as original paintings and handwritten lyrics. Segelbaum then created the show.
“We raised half a million dollars for an AIDS charity,” Segelbaum said. “On opening night, there was Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Graham Nash, Robby Kreiger from the Doors and Peter Frampton. It was a really incredible event.”
Since the show’s success, Segelbaum has curated a yearly art show. After accepting an offer to come to Philadelphia, his idea evolved.
“A little more than six years ago, I thought this could work with radio stations all over the county,” Segelbaum said. “I have all of these connections with people, and no one else can get this stuff. Through my relationships, I was able to bring this around the country to radio stations everywhere.”
The radio stations then teamed up with charities to donate a portion of all artwork sales to various foundations. All proceeds of the art, such as the art of Ringo Starr, are donated to charity.
This year, WMGK teamed up with Van Zandt, the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band and a WMGK radio show host. WMGK is giving a portion of the art proceeds to Van Zandt’s charity, the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation – a nonprofit foundation that provides free rock music education to middle and high school students.
Besides donating to charity, the art show provides authentic artwork to classic rock enthusiasts and aficionados. The art prices range from $5 to $10,000.
The show boasts an extensive amount of Beatles artwork, including photos like “Lennon and McCartney,” which is John Lennon and Paul McCartney dining at the Dorchester Hotel in 1964, which sells for $450. There are many other photos such as rare, backstage Zeppelin scenes, photos of a red-haired “Ziggy Stardust” styled Bowie and Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick in the glory of her youth.
There are also authentic drawings and paintings, such as Lennon caricatures by the famed Al Hirschfeld and psychedelic Beatles cartoons by “Yellow Submarine” animator Ron Campbell.
Scott Kelinson, the founder of Whosontour Entertainment, is a Rolling Stones enthusiast who makes Stones Trading Cards art that was for sale at the show.
‘“I got in touch with people who handle Stones merchandising to get the cards,” Kelinson said. “There are 150 different cards in the set, beginning with the Stones early years from 1964 up through 2006. They are highly recognizable sheets – from tongues, tour posters and classic album covers.”
Kelinson strategically places the Stones trading cards to comprise a broad menagerie of classic Stones memorabilia. Kelinson established a business out of his trading card creations due to his love for the bad boys of rock.
“I have always been a Stones fan,” Kelinson said. “I had an idea for this, and I thought, ‘What better person could there be to put together Stones trading cards?’ The Stones are classic rock that stands the test of time.”
Patrons of the classic rock art show come to see such creative testaments to the legends of rock ‘n’ roll. Although the show attracts classic rock fans of all ages, the primary visitors and art buyers are people who actually witnessed
Bowie and Hendrix shredding their electric guitars. Patrons, such as Larry, who wished to keep his last name anonymous, of Bala Cynwyd, are veteran rockers who had the ultimate privilege of seeing rock legends at the height of their prime.
“I’m an old rock ‘n’ roller,” Larry said. “I’ve been to 800 rock shows. I saw the Stones 38 times and Jimi Hendrix 11 times. The Stones are my favorite.”
Larry went on to describe a Janis Joplin concert, a person who he called “an incredible woman” and a 1974 Lou Reed concert, where Reed was “so wasted,” that the roadies had to physically carry him on and off stage.
“But when they strapped on his guitar, he came to life,” Larry said. “It was some of the hardiest, loudest, nastiest rock ‘n’ roll I ever heard in my life.”
For people like Larry, these classic rock relics are the ultimate form of music nostalgia.
“For folks my age, this is reliving our earlier days,” he said. “When I see these pictures, I just think how I was at a lot of these concerts. It takes me back. This is like the rock ‘n’ roll Holy Grail.”
Segelbaum described the magic of classic rock art as a visceral connection that people have to the photographs and artwork.
“Everything has a story behind it,” Segelbaum said. “That is what brings you closer to it.”
The Classic Rock Art Show is now at Suburban Square through March 27.
Jessica Herring can be reached at email@example.com.