About Tony Booth - The Beatles Poster Artist
“Liverpool Commercial Artist Tony Booth worked in Liverpool City Centre during the 1960’s, just round the corner from The Cavern Club and close to The Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s office in Whitechapel. Tony did a lot of business with Brian, producing posters, printed leaflets and a wide variety of publicity & display material. Tony produced hand-painted gig posters during the early sixties for many promoters not just Brian Epstein but for promoter Sam Leach, Allan Williams and Cavern Club DJ -Bob Wooler. They also promoted many of the big events of the Merseybeat era. Very few Tony’s 1960’s original posters have survived as the posters would normally be disposed of after the event or destroyed during the silk-screen printing process.”
“Tony Booth was born in 1933 in England and was a wartime schoolboy. In 1948 at the age of 15, he won a scholarship in Commercial Art and Design, to ‘The Wallasey School of Art and Crafts’ in Wallasey on Merseyside. After only 18 months at Art School he was offered his first position in a Commercial Art Studio that was also a Printing, Sign-writing and Poster-Writing Company on Merseyside.
The wages at the time were very low, but Tony was very keen to gain professional experience in his chosen trade and the training and experience that he received proved to be priceless. Tony was extremely fortunate that the man, who gave him his first job and trained him, was ‘Alan Norman Parry’ who was the finest Lettering Artist in the country and one of the top designers during the forties and fifties.
By the time he was called up to do his National Service at the age of 18, Tony had reached a high standard in all aspects of Lettering, Design, Poster-writing and Sign-writing. He had also achieved basic skills in Letterpress Printing and Lithography.
It was 1951 when Tony began his 2 years National Service in the Royal Air Force. After his basic training, it was not long before the R.A.F. became aware of Tony’s skills as a sign-writer. They provided him with an office/workshop, in the headquarters building and he was put to work producing signs and notice boards for the entire R.A.F base. He also painted a lot of crests and logos on R.A.F. vehicles and aircraft. This enabled him to keep his hand in for the duration of his National Service. He was also issued with 36/48 hour weekend passes and so most weekends he was back in his old job producing signs and posters. The extra money came in very handy, as Tony was saving up to get married.
Finally, in 1953 Tony’s National Service came to an end and by the end of December 1953 Tony was married and had started a new higher paid job in a big Liverpool Advertising Agency, but he still helped out at his old firm at the weekends on a freelance basis, as he was very grateful to his mentor Alan Norman Parry for the skills he had learnt from him Tony has now passed on the same skills to his son Lee, who has put them to good use in his own career and is now teaching others. For most of his career, Tony worked as a Designer and Lettering Artist in Advertising Agencies and Design Studios in Liverpool.
During the late fifties Tony hand-painted many posters for ‘The Cavern’ Club at 10 Mathew Street, Liverpool. When it first opened as a Jazz Club in 1957, ‘The Merseysippi Jazz Band’ were the big attraction on opening night, supported by The Wall City Jazz Men.
‘The Cavern Club’ always had plenty of Tony’s posters pasted on the walls outside, when ‘The Beatles’ and other big name groups were playing there. It was amazing how long they stayed up, considering that they were only pasted up with a mixture of flower and water. In fact, it was hard work when they needed to be scraped off.
Tony would hand-paint up to 10 of the same poster using one-stroke brushes and liners with oil-based colours, mostly on white machine glazed ‘double-crown’ 30”x20” poster paper. If the promoter required a larger number of posters for a specific event, then the original artwork would be sent to a local silk-screen printer for bulk printing and distribution and the same artwork was often used for leaflets and press adverts.
Most of Tony’s original hand-painted posters were either thrown away after the event or destroyed during the silk-screen printing process, but today at auction, the printed posters that have survived are sold to collectors for £6,000 or more. Christie’s of London sold one of Tony’s original hand-painted Cavern Club posters to an American collector a few years ago. for £27,500, which was double Christie’s valuation.
Over the years, he has also been commissioned to paint many portraits of movie stars, sporting personalities, pop stars and singers. His most famous was his pop portrait of ‘The Beatles’ he painted in August 1962 just 5 days after Brian Epstein signed up ‘Ringo Starr’ to complete the newly formed group. It is actually the first-known artistic image of ‘The Beatles’. The original painting is not for sale but Tony has raised many thousands of pounds for charity by donating framed, signed limited edition-prints for auctions at Liverpool charity dinners and other events.
2016 was a great year for Tony which started with a TV documentary airing on BBC1. Later in the summer Tony held his first exhibition
In October 2016, Tony was commissioned to produce the artwork for The Cavern Club’s 60th Anniversary and this is now on display inside the club. This was later to be known as one his last ever original works.
Unfortunately on 11th January 2017, Tony passed away after a long battle with cancer. It was one of his last wishes to his family that they kept his legacy going by continuing to distribute his artwork and carry on his website for him. Further to this, a contract has been agreed with a book publisher for a showcase of Tony & his artwork. This book was released in November 2017.”