Concert promoter collects decades of memorabilia

TULSA - If you bought a concert ticket in the Tulsa area over the last 30 years, you've heard of Little Wing Productions.

Larry Shaeffer started the company in 1971, and literally changed the way musicians and bands thought about Tulsa.

"We actually found those wrapped in canvas up in the attic," Shaeffer said.

Years before Cains Ballroom was remodeled and made a big comeback along with the rest of downtown Tulsa, TU grad, and veteran, Shaeffer, owned the historic music hall.

For 25 years Shaeffer had Cain's and still has Little Wing Productions, named for a Jimi Hendrix song.

He booked shows with artists that normally would pass through Tulsa between Kansas City and Dallas.

"I literally went after an artist that I thought would have an audience," Shaeffer said.

As a result, Shaeffer has collected a huge stash of memorabilia.

Posters, many hands drawn in the 50's, promoting musicians like Chuck Berry, JJ Cale, Bon Jovi, BB King, Merle Haggard and on and on.

"It was kind of a wild west back then. It was a golden era I believe," Shaeffer said.

So much memorabilia that Shaeffer has hired an archivist to inventory it all.

He's starting with Deadwood, who knew that's what music promoters call concert tickets that don't sell.

"This room is only probably a third of the archives that I'm dealing with, " Archivist Mark Ward said.

Files on each artist or band, filled with contracts, including the ryders outlining the special needs of each musician and some personal letters too.

There are very few small promoters like Shaeffer and Little Wing Productions around these days.
    
Shaeffer was ahead of the times in promoting music and so was Tulsa.

"What a rich valuable history this town has and should be very proud of," Shaeffer said.

Shaeffer plans to sell some of the memorabilia and donate the rest.

It's a collection that as the years go by becomes more valuable to him, our city and the music industry.

"Somebody will own this stuff that you're looking at a hundred years from now," Shaeffer said. "That's heavy. I like that".

Shaeffer credits Oklahomans with believing in and supporting many of the artists he booked here in Tulsa.

He says he always tried to keep concert ticket prices affordable so that everyone could afford to see new bands.

 

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