Daddy Cool to The Rolling Stones
Ian McCausland's music posters
24 July 2017
A pair of red lips with an exaggerated tongue protruding from them. An 'S' with an arrow on the end. A lightning bolt.
The visual style of a band often forms a big part of our experience of them and their music. Cast your mind back: how many hours did you spend, poring over the album art of a favourite band?
It leads me to question: who are the geniuses behind some of the world's most recognisable music brands? We often know nothing about the people who created the images we know so well.
In the case of some of Australia's most iconic band art, enter Ian McCausland. A Melbourne designer, cartoonist and illustrator in the 1960s and 1970s, he is the man behind the album and tour poster designs for many well-known Australian and international bands. He was also the very first Art Director for Mushroom Records in Australia.
McCausland donated copies of his posters to the Library in 2014 (many of which are signed), and generously allowed them to be made available online via Trove.
I was thrilled to stumble upon them for the first time when researching other music-related content in the Library's collection. These are some of my favourites. Do you recognise any?
Rolling Stones Australian Tour poster, 1973
What a boon, to be given the opportunity to design the tour poster for one of the world's biggest rock bands! Using the Stones' iconic red lips illustration, superimposed on a map of Australia, McCausland captured the message beautifully (and boldly) for their Australian tour poster, with an aeroplane appearing to fly from the other side of the globe into the waiting mouth.
Of course, getting the Stones into Australia for the tour was not all smooth sailing. Off the back of their unruly behaviour during their 1972 tour of America, they struggled to get visas and work permits.
McCausland was subsequently approached to submit an album artwork design for the Stones, but sadly, his artwork was lost in transit.
Little River Band Reminiscing tour poster, c. 1970s
Can you hear the strains of the song of the same title, with its multi-layered vocal harmonies, when you look at this poster? The design features a cartoon platypus 'swimming' through the large 'R' in 'LRB'. The platypus design has become synonymous with Little River Band, especially in the United States. According to McCausland, this poster was a reworking of a concept he created for an inner sleeve of an LRB album cover.
Daddy Cool, Teenage Heaven, 1972
This poster is really eye-catching, featuring a highly stylised cartoon depiction of the band members of Daddy Cool rocking the stage. "Sex! Dope! Rock'n'Roll!" appears as the poster's headline.
Ian McCausland: 'I wanted this illustration to look like the front cover of a dope comic. It's based on [Daddy Cool's] unforgettable 1971 concert at the Melbourne Town Hall and I hope I got the clothes and guitars right.'
Perhaps the most curious aspect of the poster is the 'boomer approved' stamp at the bottom right of the image, with a rock'n'roll cartoon dog wearing sunglasses and an earring. Who, or what, is 'boomer'? (Perhaps you'd like to enlighten us in the comments).
Skyhooks tour poster, c. 1970s
McCausland's pink lettering for this poster, designed for Skyhooks' 'Ego' album cover and featuring arrows on the tails of the 's' at either end, would become the signature branding element for the band. Bold, colourful and graphic, the poster design features images of different kinds of footwear: a red stiletto, a harlequin jester's shoe, a purple loafer, a sandal with a pink flower next to it, and a cowboy boot. Perhaps this was a reference to the wide appeal of Skyhooks' music?
Ian McCausland: 'Quite possibly every mother's nightmare in the 70's. But then again, you can't judge a man by his shoes.'
You can explore the rest of our collection of Ian McCausland posters in Trove.
Do you have a favourite music or band poster? Tell us about it in the comments.