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Keep Houston Press Free
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Cover Story: Uncle Charlie Is Houston's Poster Boy

Uncle Charlie isn't just a Houston legend. Ask anyone in the poster-art scene the world over, and they'll know his work. Charlie Hardwick, the subject of this week's cover story, designs posters advertising some of the biggest names in music - from Wilco to Green Day to The Decemberists.

But two decades ago at 22, when he could barely drink legally, he was just a kid pissing off Kurt Cobain.

He had designed a poster for Nirvana's show at The Vatican, an iconic rock club of Houston's past. But Hardwick didn't much care for Nirvana, and designed it with the band's local punk openers in mind. Turns out, a black-and-white flier slapped with a giant skull and superimposed with a dominatrix was not Kurt Cobain's idea of a nice ad.

"Somebody looked at it and was like, 'That's a cool poster.'" Hardwick remembers. "He just looked at it and said, 'I hate it.'"

The sentiment increased both Hardwick's love for the poster and hate of Kurt Cobain.

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Now, his creations adorn the office walls of The Who's Pete Townshend and of Foo Fighters, according to Hardwick's friends who've seen them firsthand. Locally, his posters grace House of Blues marquees and dorm walls.

But lately, his art and his life have changed, drastically. Welcome to the wild world of Uncle Charlie.

"Poster Boy" is this week's cover feature.

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