1993-1999 Legends of American Music Series
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Series: Legends of American Music
Value: 29c/32c/33c, First-Class postage rate
First Days of Issue: Various: From January 8, 1993 (Elvis single) to September 21, 1999 (Broadway Songwriters set of 6)
Why the stamps were issued: To honor the greatest names from each of America’s unique musical styles.
The history this series represents: TheLegends of American Music Series debuted on January 8, 1993 and ran until fall 1999. More than 90 performers and musicians are represented from all styles of music: rock and roll, rhythm and blues, country and western, jazz and pop, opera and classical, gospel and folk. In addition to individual singers and Broadway musicals, subjects include bandleaders, classical composers, Hollywood songwriters and composers, plus conductors and lyricists.
Though a series of this kind had been considered several years before, the demand for an Elvis stamp helped make it happen. Fans were clamoring for an Elvis stamp, while other people, including some members of the Citizen’s Stamp Advisory Committee, were against it. Elvis wasn’t anyone’s role model, especially with his abuse of prescription drugs. The concept that got Elvis on a stamp was that acceptance would be better among the doubters if Elvis were part of a series to honor America’s contributions to the musical world. And then-Postmaster Anthony Frank really wanted the US Postal Service to honor Elvis on a stamp. In 1992, he was finally able to announce the stamp, and tell the world it would be followed by a series honoring other greats from several American musical traditions.
The 29c “young Elvis” stamp – #2721, kicked off the series in a big and very public way. Its design was voted on by over one million Americans, about 75% of whom favored the younger Elvis design (by Mark Stutzman) over the “old Elvis” version. And so Elvis fans finally got their wish when his stamp was issued on January 8th, the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s birthday. It became the best-selling commemorative stamp in US history.
The Elvis stamp was also issued June 16th in a 7-stamp se-tenant set, along with six other Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues greats, on a pane of 35. Elvis’ name now appeared in full on his stamp. The other artists on the pane were: Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, Ritchie Valens, Dinah Washington, Bill Haley, and Clyde McPhatter.
A booklet pane of 8 (with two Elvis stamps) and a pane of 4 featuring Elvis, Otis Redding, Buddy Holly and Dinah Washington were issued on the same day. (Several design differences from the sheet stamps exist on the booklet stamps.)
The Legends of American Music Series was on its way. It was a huge advancement for diversity because it honored many Black and female artists.
There are 15 individual sets within the Legends of American Music Series, each one presenting outstanding artists in a different musical style or field. Two of the sets are repeated in a set of booklet stamps, for a total of 17 sets. There are also four single stamps in the series.
All series components are listed below, along with links to the single stamps:
US #2721 – Elvis single (Rock ‘n’ Roll)
US #2722 – Oklahoma single (Broadway Musicals)
US #2723 – Hank Williams single (Country and Western)
US #2724-30, 2731-2737 – Rock ‘n’ Roll/Rhythm & Blues (Sheet and Booklet, same subject)
US #2767-70 – Broadway Musicals (Booklet)
US #2771-74, #2775-78 – Country and Western (Sheet and Booklet, same subject)
US #2849-53 – Popular Singers
US #2854-61 – Blues and Jazz
US #2982 – Louis Armstrong single (Jazz Musician)
US #2983-92 – Jazz Musicians
US #3096-99 – Big Band Leaders
US #3100-03 – Songwriters
US #3154-57 – Opera Singers
US #3158-65 – Conductors and Composers
US #3212-15 – Folk Musicians
US #3216-19 – Gospel Singers
US #3339-44 – Hollywood Composers
US #3345-50 – Broadway Songwriters