Music News & Reviews

University’s new exhibit of retro concert posters proves that Sacramento rocks

See Sacramento State’s new Rock & Radio Collection

Sacramento State's newly acquired Sacramento Rock & Radio Collection lives in the Gerth Special Collections and University Archives, Friday, February 15, 2019.
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Sacramento State's newly acquired Sacramento Rock & Radio Collection lives in the Gerth Special Collections and University Archives, Friday, February 15, 2019.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience put on a February 1968 show for 3,000 fans packed inside a Sacramento State gym, a facility that held an official capacity of just over 1,000 people at the time, as it does today.

Locals could see the legendary guitarist and songwriter for a door price of $3, or they could get them in advance for 25 cents cheaper at any Tower Records store.

Hendrix wasn’t the only staple of classic rock to pass through California’s capital. Before a vast majority of current university students’ parents were born, some of the biggest names in rock ‘n’ roll history helped put Sacramento on the music-scene map.

The region’s storied history will now be commemorated with a new exhibit at Sacramento State showcasing vibrant concert posters and other items of memorabilia, university officials said in a news release. About 1,000 items were given to the university by alumnus and collector Dennis Newhall this week, the release said.

Newhall, a theater arts major who graduated in 1973, dedicated a total donation of 4,000 items that will come in phases to the university’s archives, according to a story published by the Sacramento State newsroom. Included are T-shirts, ticket stubs, handbills, photos and more.

The Hendrix poster — yellow backing with the word “Hendrix” in a rainbow gradient shooting up from the band’s afros — is a part of Newhall’s collection, a historical record of the rock ‘n’ roll who’s who that passed through the City of Trees from the 1960s through more modern times.

Ed Sullivan gave Sacramento a TV shout-out before the Rolling Stones played Memorial Auditorium in 1964. The Doors came through later in the 60s. Nirvana played at the now-extinct Cattle Club in the 90s.

Newhall’s collection, 17 years in the making, has jumped from a studio in Rancho Cordova to midtown Sacramento to temporary storage, and then finally to its new home in Sacramento State’s library archives.

“This is not an art collection,” Newhall said in a statement provided by Sacramento State. “This is a story about the venues, the poster artists, the pioneering radio stations that brought rock ‘n’ roll and rock to Sacramento, and the rock bands that played here.”

Now officially called the Sacramento Rock & Radio Collection, the rock music artifacts are available for study and research, the university says.

Michael McGough anchors The Sacramento Bee’s breaking news reporting team, covering public safety and other local stories. A Sacramento native and lifelong capital resident, he interned at The Bee while attending Sacramento State, where he earned a degree in journalism.

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