Jack White. Detroit. 2018
This is the concert poster commemorating the biggest hometown Detroit show of Jack White's career! And it features the ghost of the theater that Little Caesars Arena was built atop.
18x24 inches (landscape) • Limited Edition of 441 (hand-stamped and numbered on the back) -- the majority were sold at the show, with these being the prints made for sale by the poster designer • Designed by Matthew Jacobson. Illustrated by Kyle Letendre. Additional sign painting by Julian Baker. • Silkscreened in Chicago by Baker Prints • Ships safely in a tube.
Enjoy this video of the story behind the poster:
And for those with time to spare, here's a much longer description:
Little Caesars Arena was built on the site where the Stone Burlesk once stood. The Stone's iconic "Burlesk" marquee, which in this poster has been transformed to read "Jack White" was a fixture on Detroit's main artery, Woodward Avenue, just north of the Fox and south of the Majestic for over 50 years.
My grandfather, Milton Jacobson, owned the Stone Burlesk from the 30s - 80s. In 1960 grandpa took a photo of his theater, which this poster is based on. Kyle Letendre graciously illustrated it. Julian Baker did some additional sign painting on top of it. And Kyle Baker printed it at Baker Prints. There's a lot of history in here. For example:
- In 1951, singer Johnnie Ray was arrested for "soliciting a patrolman for the purpose of performing an immoral act" in the basement of the Stone. Some say this led to his downfall and being referenced as "Poor ol' Johnnie Ray" in the 80s hit song 'Come on Eileen.' Johnnie is depicted on this poster, purchasing his ill-fated admission ticket.
- Milton would often borrow animals from the zoo and put them in front of the theater to entice passerby. He occasionally kept a bear or alligator out front. Here we show the alligator, which from what I've been told was fairly lethargic and needed a good splash from a bucket of water to "look alive" and woo the crowds. This was obviously a very different time.
- Milton met his wife, my grandma Lorraine when she was working the box office at the Monroe Theater - not far from the Stone. Later, when they married, Lorraine would make costumes for the Stone's dancers and managed the theater for a few years while Milton was in the Army. However, it isn't Lorraine depicted in the box office. In the box office is Roberta Lee - a former dancer who introduced the concept of burlesque to my grandpa (prior to burlesque, the Stone had been written up in National Geographic for being a 24 hour movie house, so that no matter what time your shift ended at Ford, there was entertainment available for you to enjoy). Roberta produced the burlesque shows for many years and occasionally worked the box office. The blouse depicted in this poster is reproduced from one that she wore often.
- Soon after this poster was revealed at Jack's performance, I read a comment online in which a fan wrote: "There are posters on that poster!" I loved reading that. All the posters have special meaning and are based on the style of actual signs and ads that my grandfather had made for the theater:
o The lettering that reads "Wow! Wow! Wow!" at the top of the entry door on the left is pulled directly from a Stone Burlesk print ad that read "Paris Peep Show. Wow! Wow!" that ran in various Detroit newspapers throughout the 50s and 60s. In 2011, Milton passed away at the age of 97 on the same day I was driving down to relocate to Nashville to start work at Third Man Records. I was unable to attend the funeral. A couple months later, the world's oldest living burlesque dancer, Tempest Storm, paid a visit to Third Man. She and I spoke of the Stone Burlesk, which she recalled from her touring days. When I was designing the Tempest Storm 7" for Third Man, I channeled a lot of my grandfather into the copy and art of that single, including placing these exact same words reading "Wow! Wow! Wow!" as a tribute to him.
o "Park free in rear" must have been a huge selling point for the theater as it was both free of charge and out of sight from the throngs of people traveling up and down Woodward Avenue. Those four words appeared on nearly every piece of marketing material produced for the Stone.
o The poster on the door above the alligator reads "Stone Burlesk. Unusual Adult Show. In person, JACK WHITE. Extra! NEGATIVE APPROACH. Extra! CRAIG BROWN BAND." This poster within the poster was designed quickly by Rob Jones, and was based on another old newspaper ad for the Stone that featured that same illustration of the woman in front of the lamppost along with the headline "Evil Career of the Thrill-Chasing Blonde." and the subhead "In person, French Girls."
o There are other posters related to Jack and referencing lines from Boarding House Reach, all put together in my grandpa's ballyhoo style.
- The edition stamp on the back of these posters in written in French, because as mentioned previously, "French Girls" were all the rage at the theater. That aura of mystery and otherness luring fine American gentleman through those doors. My favorite of the Stone Burlesk newspaper ads reads "How French Girls Take A Bath."
My goal for this poster was to both create a lasting memory of Jack White's largest hometown show and simultaneously help the Stone Burlesk come to life once again -- for just one night -- to entertain the city of Detroit as it had done over and over and over.