Album Cover Hall of Fame News Update and Link Summary for December, 2020
Posted December 1st, 2020 by Mike Goldstein, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com
Well, we made it to December first and, I have to tell you, part of me is much happier than the last time I was writing this intro for you, while the other part is still in a mild state of bewilderment, with a sizable number of my fellow countrymen (and countrywomen) refusing to believe in both the results of an election and the fact that there’s a pandemic still raging. How, then, am I finding the strength to sit at my desk and tap out a missive to a readership that might partly be suffering from either/both the effects of a nasty disease (that’s killed 260,000+ people her so far, and many thousands more world-wide) and/or the notion that their elected representatives might not have been fairly elected (a baseless theory supported by no actual evidence)? Perhaps it’s due to the fact that, in spite of whatever has brought us all to this point, art and music creators continue to transcend boundaries and inspire our lives and emotions with the pure power of their work. Or, it might be my ever-expanding gin and tonic recipe book – in any case, there continues to be a lot of interesting developments in the world of record album imagery…
A good example of that is in this year’s class of inductees into the ACHOF, announced in late November. If you didn’t see my postings/press releases about who made the cut this year, I’d invite you to read about the results on the ACHOF site at https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2020/11/20/announcment-inductees-2020-album-cover-hall-of-fame/
I am happy to report that I did hear back from several of the inductees this year who were quite happy to have been inducted. In one case – artist Nic Dartnell, perhaps best-known for his painting that graced the cover of the first ELP album – he also shared some info on a cover for a product in another medium – this one, a video tape that compiled a number of performances of songs by Arthur Lee and LOVE – on which another of his paintings was used. Nic and Mr. Lee were chums and, as it turns out, Nic was the inspiration for a song! Read more about this in the “Interview” section that follows.
Two other album cover-related award competitions – the Best Art Vinyl awards in the U.K. (see article in the “Exhibitions” section) and the Making Vinyl Awards here in the U.S. – are also in-process and so it’ll be interesting to see who’s determined to be providing the most visual excitement in the recorded music business when all the votes are tallied…I’d also like to note that Making Vinyl Award submissions are still being accepted through December 10th…
Then, of course, there is the Mother of all music award shows – The Grammy Awards – which on 11/24/2020 presented their nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards in the Packaging Categories and, once again, they are:
In the “Best Recording Package” category:
- Pilar Zeta, art director, for Coldplay’s EVERYDAY LIFE; Kyle Goen, art director, for Lil Wayne’s FUNERAL; Julian Gross & Hannah Hooper, art directors, for HEALER by Grouplove; Jordan Butcher, art director, for ON CIRCLES by Caspian and Doug Cunningham & Jason Noto, art directors for Desert Sessions’ VOLS. 11 & 12
In the “Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package” category:
- Linn Wie Andersen, Simon Earith, Paul McCartney and James Musgrave, art directors, for Paul McCartney’s FLAMING PIE (COLLECTOR’S EDITION); Lisa Glines & Doran Tyson, art directors, for the Grateful Dead’s GIANTS STADIUM 1987, 1989, 1991; Jeff Schulz, art director, for MODE by Depeche Mode; Lawrence Azerrad & Jeff Tweedy, art directors, for Wilco’s ODE TO JOY and Michael Cina & Molly Smith, art directors, for VMP ANTHOLOGY: THE STORY OF GHOSTLY INTERNATIONAL, with music by various artists
And although we don’t really provide coverage for work in this category, the nominees in the “Best Album Notes” category are:
- Tim Brooks, album notes writer, for AT THE MINSTREL SHOW: MINSTREL ROUTINES FROM THE STUDIO, 1894-1926 (Various Artists); Scott B. Bomar, album notes writer, for THE BAKERSFIELD SOUND: COUNTRY MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WEST, 1940-1974 (Various Artists); Bob Mehr, album notes writer for DEAD MAN’S POP by The Replacements; Colin Hancock, album notes writer, for THE MISSING LINK: HOW GUS HAENSCHEN GOT US FROM JOPLIN TO JAZZ AND SHAPED THE MUSIC BUSINESS (Various Artists) and David Sager, album notes writer, for Nat Brusiloff’s OUT OF A CLEAR BLUE SKY.
Congratulations to all of the nominees – the winners will be announced in ceremonies taking place next January 31st and, as you can figure, news of the winners will be announced here on the ACHOF site. If you’d like to see the complete list of Grammy Award nominees in all categories, click on over to the Grammy.com site at https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/2021-grammys-complete-nominees-list
In the meantime, immediately following this intro, you’ll find the brief-and-to-the-point list of album art/artist-related articles I’ve gathered and continue to remain grateful to those of you who’ve continued to visit and share what you’ve found on the ACHOF site. Regardless of what happens over the next few weeks, I hope that you’ll continue to dig through the archives of content available for you (suggestions for new topics are always appreciated). And now, here’s my latest summary:
Exhibitions and Gallery Show Info –
a) The Best Art Vinyl Award nominated designs are now available for viewing as part of a virtual gallery – https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=PJdYGoWdriq. Set inside a redeveloped customs house building at a place called Folkstone Harbour (in Kent, U.K.), the exhibition is simple to tour via the site navigation, with works each mounted on their own easels and information provided about the people who created them.
One thing I must say about the effects of the pandemic on art displays – there have been some very impressive online alternatives (to being there in person) and, with the number of regularly-scheduled live and recorded “meet the artist” events increasing and, usually, offering more intimacy than some of the in-person events I’ve attended, I think that this type of presentation is here to stay.
b) In another example of a well-done VR gallery tour experience, many samples from photographer Mick Rock’s amazing portfolio of rock & roll imagery are included – and for sale – in a VR gallery you can tour through on a site hosted by the Skull & Monarch Gallery – https://www.skullmonarch.com/galleries/mick-rock/
As a reminder, while many public/retail galleries and museums continue to be closed to the public, some have recently re-opened or announced plans to either/both re-open soon, making sure that they’re doing all they can to keep customers and their employees safe and/or continuing on in their efforts to create digital/online content. For example, my wife and I recently bought timed tickets to view the fantastic Monet art show at Chicago’s Art Institute, while in New York City, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has put hundreds of thousands of images of works in their archives up for public viewing on its web site – https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection. The Grammy Museum in LA, Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have all produced prodigious amounts of product for their respective web sites, and many retail galleries – in addition to the online portfolios they’ve created – are also available to help by appointment, so if you’re looking to learn more about what’s taking place in art spaces in your area, I’d invite you to look through the list of sellers I’m maintaining on the ACHOF site – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/achof-buying-and-selling-resources-page/ – and then visit their sites to see who is doing what.
Artist News and Interviews
a) Earlier in this summary, I’d shared a note about having heard back from one of this year’s ACHOF inductees, the artist/painter Nic Dartnell, best-known for his stunning bird image found on Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s debut record. Nic shared some details about another painting of his that found its way onto a retail package – this time, for a music video compilation of songs by Arthur Lee and Love.
According to Nic – “It might be of interest that Arthur Lee and Love used a painting of mine on one of their compilation products (Love: Arthur Lee and Love – released in 1991 in the US, UK and Europe by Ice World Video Corporation – Outlaw 99).
This portrait used to be on the wall in his mum’s house in LA. I knew Arthur fairly well and I think we would have liked to collaborate on an album cover, but with him living in LA and me being in London, that made that idea a bit impractical. Arthur once told me about his discussing a painting of mine with Jimi Hendrix, and that was quite an inspiring thought… “
One of the song’s featured was titled “Five String Serenade” which, according to Nic, “is about him being in the rain, thinking of a painter – i.e., me in Britain – where ‘it’s probably raining there, too’ etc. The lyrics go like this
This is my five string serenade
Beneath the water of play
And while I’m playing for you
It might be raining there too
And on my easel I drew
While I was thinking of you
And on the roof of my head
In came my five string serenade”
(Copyright 1992, Albert Lee)
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nic several years ago about his work on the ELP cover and would invite you to read this story when you get a moment – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/interview-nic-dartnell-elps-debut-album-cover/
b) Brian Liss and the team at Toronto’s Brian Liss Gallery hosted a live Zoom event this past month (Saturday, November 21st) featuring photographer Bob Gruen. Bob’s got a new book that chronicles his amazing career as one of the entertainment industry’s most highly-regarded shooters – titled Right Place, Right Time: The Life of a Rock & Roll Photographer – and he was eager to share stories from his new tome with those of us who were in attendance. Attendees were able to see and hear more about Bob’s impressive body of work with musical greats such as John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Ramones and others and, during the 45 minute conversation (in which participants were encouraged to send in any questions they might have prior to the meeting), Bob answered questions about his decision to write a memoir, his choice of equipment (including his handy iPhone!) and one from yours truly about his album cover work, in which he shared details about the complexity of the photo shoot that produced the photos for John Lennon’s Walls & Bridges album (shooting 12 rolls of film with John making different faces and wearing different eyeglasses) as well as the “make your own Lennon face” toy that accompanied the record. He also took us on a tour through some of his portfolio, with most of the shots available as limited-edition prints.
Signed copies of Bob’s book will be made available for sale ($125) and will be available for order on the gallery’s web site. In the meantime, you can tour through the gallery’s deep portfolio of Bob’s fine art photo prints via this link – https://liss-gallery.shoplightspeed.com/artists/bob-gruen/
c) In another installment in the very-informative Art of the Album series that’s been running on the Muse by Clio site, ACHOF inductee and all-around talented guy John Kosh (AKA “Kosh”) shares the details of his list of 10 great album covers – https://musebycl.io/art-album/10-great-album-covers-chosen-kosh I hope to be able to share some additional details about this series with you soon via a conversation I’m having with the Editor-in-Chief of the site (Tim Nudd) and editor Michael Kauffman – I’ve found it to be one of the most-informative series of articles on the topic I’ve seen in quite a while. Earlier in the month, Muse By Clio worked with Mauricio Cadena of Chicago’s Alma Ad agency to select his 10 favorite album covers – https://musebycl.io/art-album/10-great-album-covers-chosen-mauricio-cadena-alma
d) The multi-talented Nick Egan just shared some exciting news about how he’s pursuing a passion – “So I’ve had a change in direction of career and put all my worldly knowledge into something I’ve always dreamed of. 6 months in – and with my co-host Haydn Murdoc and his nerdy brain and my art of getting thing done, no matter what – we have created a first!
INXS Access All Areas is a dedicated Podcast with a big difference – INXS is ‘My Band’ and we aimed to bring INXS fans together on another level of fandom. Deep diving into the huge amount of albums, singles, tours, band members and much more. Like I said, 6 months in and we have had over 11.5k of downloads of the show so far, Interviewing some amazing people along the way. New, old, uber or just interested fans are finding us in all platforms. Spotify, Podbean, Apple Music, iTunes and more”. https://inxsaccessallareas.podbean.com/
What I found particularly interesting is that two early-November episodes (beginning with Episode #26, dated November 1st) feature an interview with Nick himself talking about his long career as an album cover designer and, in particular, his 11-year relationship with Michael Hutchence from INXS. https://inxsaccessallareas.podbean.com/e/inxs-aaa-episode-26-kick-33a-the-nick-egan-interview/
e) Several new album cover artist interviews can be found on a site called Outsiderrock, edited and hosted by Kevin Julie. The most-recent one he’s shared with us is one he did with artist Stan W Decker, who has created over 100 covers for clients in the heavy metal music world including Blue Oyster Cult, Stryper and many others – https://outsiderrock.wordpress.com/2020/10/24/an-interview-with-album-cover-artist-stan-w-decker/
Earlier in 2020, Kevin interviewed Dave Field – https://outsiderrock.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/an-interview-with-artist-dave-field/
Kevin also shares his insights on record albums, live performances and more, so it’s my pleasure to be able to provide you with an intro to his site.
f) Is Roger Dean the “ultimate prog rock album cover artist”? Arguments are presented at http://bravewords.com/features/between-a-rock-and-a-prog-place-is-roger-dean-the-ultimate-prog-album-cover-artist I happen to think that he’s certainly in the “top 3”, but that could be because I have renditions of some of his works inked onto my forearm (that makes me a fan, right?).
g) Mark Weiss is having a great month with regards to the publicity he’s getting for his work – GOLDMINE Magazine has a multi-page article in their December 2020 issue, plus there’s a nice video interview article commemorating the 35th anniversary of the release of Twisted Sister’s fourth album, Come Out and Play, for which he shot the cover.
Mark also was just inducted into the ACHOF in the Photographer category and has promised to share some exciting news with me/us sometime in the near future, so please be sure to stay tuned to these pages for an update.
h) Louder Magazine’s Hugh Fielder provides a recent interview with Vic Singh about his foray into the world of album cover photography – Pink Floyd’s Piper at the Gates of Dawn – https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-story-behind-the-iconic-artwork-for-pink-floyds-the-piper-at-the-gates-of-dawn
I did an interview with Vic many years ago to go along with the prints of this image I was selling at my gallery – https://rockpopgallery.typepad.com/rockpop_gallery_news/2007/09/index.html during which he also shared some ALT images from this shoot and a particularly-cool photo of the fish-eye lens he used to produce the trippy image.
i) There’s a Robert Beatty interview/portfolio overview on the Stereogum site – https://www.stereogum.com/2103092/robert-beatty-interview-album-covers-oneohtrix-point-never/franchises/interview/
j) Last month’s summary featured an item about album cover designer Hugh Syme and his interview with Steve Waxman on The Creationists site and, since then, Hugh’s been inducted (for the 2nd time, this time in the Designer category) into the ACHOF, while the folks at Ultimate Classic Rock have delivered another peek behind the sheets with Mr. Syme regarding his work on perhaps his best-known client – Rush – for their Moving Pictures album – https://ultimateclassicrock.com/rush-moving-pictures-cover-art/
k) The third in the “Greatest Album Photography” series published by the UK’s Amateur Photographer (following in the footsteps of a similar effort highlighted in last month’s summary, during which a panel of pro photographers – Andy Cowles, Gered Mankowitz and Rachel Wright – took a critical look at recently ACHOF-inducted Eric Meola’s cover shot used on Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run album) finds another panel – Peter Hook, Jason Bell and, once again, the talented Mr. Mankowitz – looking critically at the late Brian Duffy’s masterful creation used on the cover of David Bowie’s 1973 Aladdin Sane – https://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/technique/interviews/greatest-album-cover-photography-aladdin-sane-by-david-bowie-142479
l) In the “better late than never” category, I’d like to share a link to a podcast that was posted last year that, for some reason, I’d missed. There, you’ll find a 90-minute+ interview (Part 1 of 2) with Ethan Russell, a photographer who has given us so many memorable images of “the monsters of rock” over the years that he’s nearly in a category by himself – https://somethingaboutthebeatles.com/162-conversation-ethan-russell-part-one/ The podcast was done in March, 2019, while Mr. Russell was promoting a Kickstarter campaign for his book Ethan Russell Photographs, copies of which still available exclusively on his site at https://shop.ethanrussell.com/
Items for Sale and/or at Auction
Before I continue, I have some exciting news to share. As you might remember, I used to own an art gallery that specialized in album cover-related fine art and photography. I put together a pretty good collection for that business, which delivered great happiness to customers all over the world during the gallery’s 7-year run, which ended in 2012. Well, while I did sell some of what remained of the collection when I closed, I did keep several hundred prints, which I’d hoped one day to use to start a museum. Well, as you know, my ACHOF duties took over my life, and as I’m entering a stage of my life during which I’m hoping to travel more, downsize, etc., I’ve decided to sell a large chunk of my collection and have enlisted the help of the team at Backstage Auctions to manage that effort. As a customer of Backstage for many years, I know that Jacques and Co. will present the offering in the best-possible light and that these works will find themselves into the collections of many of those who share my love for all things album cover art.
While a date hasn’t yet been set, plans are to hold this auction/sale early in 2021, so I’ll share the details with you once they’ve been nailed down.
a) This global COVID-19 pandemic has reached its nasty tentacles into the lives of many working in the arts, with one group of workers -music production personnel (studio, stage, live venues, etc.) -having been sidelined since early on this year. I have been very happy to see so many examples of other peoples’ generosity in response to the needs of those who’ve lost their jobs, but this one really caught my eye… For sale now through December 21st on the Prints For Music site – https://printsformusic.com/ – you’ll find (per their press release) – “…over 100 iconic prints of world renowned music artists taken by globally recognized and celebrated photographers. This sale represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a piece of music history, with many of the prints usually unavailable to buy.” Available for only three more weeks (until 21st Dec 2020), each A3-sized print costs £95 (approx. $127.00 US) plus shipping/handling , with 100% of proceeds going to the COVID-19 Crew Relief Fund of the Stagehand charity/benevolent organization.
The effort was organized by music/commercial photographer Ed Robinson, who contacted a list of notable industry colleagues to ask for their participation in this effort, donating their photos and services to raise money for those behind-the-scenes workers most in need. All of the photos are being produced at N/C by the well-known UK-based printer/framer/publisher Genesis Imaging.
While delivery times outside the U.K. have been slowed due to COVID (making pre-Christmas delivery impossible), U.K.-based customers who place their orders before the 11th of December stand a very good chance of delivery in time for the Holiday as the orders are being printed/shipped as quickly as possible. If you are OK with a post-25th delivery, orders will be accepted until the 21st of December and will be shipped via Royal Mail Special Delivery.
They’ve created a handy page where you can see a list of the musical acts included in the sale and the names of the photographers who’ve taken the images available for sale.
Let’s do what we can to support this noble effort.
b) An archive of Black Flag promo posters created in the 1981-1985 timeframe by recent ACHOF inductee Raymond Pettibon is being offered up for sale in an upcoming entertainment memorabilia auction (online bidding is live now and ends on December 9th) staged by the Bonham’s auction house in LA – https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/26172/lot/1138/?category=list&length=48&page=4
Sporting a pre-auction estimate of anywhere from $8,000 to $12,000, the lot includes flyers, hand bills, posters, a collection of Ray Pettibon books and other bits of Black Flag/Pettibon memorabilia.
c) The folks at KnuckleBonz have recently released some pre-order info on the next in their series of 3D Vinyl album cover recreations and, I have to admit, they’re really starting to grow on me. The newest offering in their line is a nicely-done sculpture of the cover for Pantera’s 1994 hit record Far Beyond Driven. A follow-up to its quite-well-received 1992 album Vulgar Display of Power (how can you forget the punch in the face that cover put on display?), Far Beyond Driven proved to be even more successful.
The team behind the record’s memorable drill-bit-thru-the-skull image – Richard Bates, art director; design by Donald May, Eric Altenburger and Mr. Bates and photography by the talented Dean Karr – had originally produced an image in which the drill bit was being used to violate some poor soul’s rectum (!!!) but, after receiving large amounts of negative feedback from the retailers who were looking to sell the album, thoughtfully chose another path.
Pre-orders for the new sculpture are now being accepted at https://knucklebonz.com/product/pantera-far-beyond-driven-3d-vinyl-series-collectible-statue/? There will only be 1994 of the limited-edition works made, so be sure to get yours reserved now.
d) I read an article/offering on the IndieGogo site about a digital music player system from an inventor/designer/musician named Tom Vek – called the Sleevenote, incorporating an app by the same name – the features navigation and information delivered in an album art format. The $700 unit offers a 6.2” custom touchscreen – read more on the IndieGogo site and in two other articles on the item – https://robbreport.com/gear/audio/sleevenote-high-res-music-player-album-art-1234581037/
e) The curatorial team at France’s Le Nouvel Opera gallery have organized a collection of “best deals” called, as you might figure, the “Best Deals Collection”, in which you’ll find a number of very special prints from artists including Terry Pastor, Aubrey Powell, Michael Spencer-Jones, James Marsh and several others – https://www.lenouvelopera.fr/collections/best-deals-collection/
Note – the site’s in French, but Google does a nice job of translating if you let it.
f) HURRY HURRY – you have until midnight, December 5th to take advantage of special savings on prints from renowned photojournalist Elliott Landy, the man responsible for some of the most-memorable images of Bob Dylan, The Band, Van Morrison, Big Brother & The Holding Company and many others. If you go to his site via this link – https://www.elliottlandy.com/product-category/eshop/ – and place an order there for one (or more) of a select collection of fine art pigment prints he’s assembled, you’ll get 25% off your order there.
g) I recently received notice about two new album art prints from prolific UK album art publisher Hypergallery that are sure to appeal to Pink Floyd fans (and, simply, fans of great album cover images): Rupert Truman’s cover for Pink Floyd – The Later Years – https://hypergallery.com/products/the-later-years? and noted designer Aubrey Powell’s cover for The Later Years Vinyl LP package – https://hypergallery.com/products/the-later-years-vinyl? And, if that wasn’t quite enough, the Hypergallery folks also announced the availability of a set of four stunning new prints from the hyper-talented illustrator James Marsh that add some of the covers he did for Talk Talk singles, including “Give It Up”, “I Don’t Believe In You”, “Life’s What You Make It” and “Living In Another World”, with all four moths designed by Marsh for singles from the Colour Of Spring album. These prints were supposed to be released as part of a new gallery show this past year but, with the pandemic making such events nearly impossible to stage, the artist and his publisher decided to release the prints now. They can be viewed (and ordered) on the gallery’s site at https://hypergallery.com/collections/talk-talk?
h) David Godlis, the photographer perhaps best-known for his books of photos of the late 1970s punk-rock scene in NYC, has just released a new book that digs into his expansive portfolio of street photography taken on the streets of New York City in the 1970s and 80s. According to Godlis, the new book – titled Godlis Streets – depicts “the eccentric city dwellers amid porn shops, bankers, old ladies, street vendors, and gigolos in the city on the brink of transition from gritty to glamorous”. I think that we can all assume that, based on the success of his last book (History Is Made At Night, which delivers his photos taken from 1976-1979), this tome will continue on in the tradition of being a must-have for any serious fan of rock photography.
Released November 17th and available – https://www.rizzolibookstore.com/godlis-streets– https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8946689/Celebrated-punk-rock-photographer-David-GODLIS-releases-trove-images-depicting-NYC-1970s.html
More on David’s site at https://www.godlis.com/
Going to have to keep these short-and-sweet, with the exception of the first article about the passing of one of the best-known rock & roll photographers ever to have worked in the business, Baron Wolman:
Originally posted 11/10/2020) After a long battle with ALS, the great rock photographer Baron Wolman died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on November 2, 2020 at the age of 83.
Wolman’s most-notable album cover credits include – Janis Joplin – Cheap Thrills (back cover), Super Hits, Collection and Live At Winterland ’68; Sun Ra – Antique Blacks; Tony Bennett – Sings His All-Time Hall Of Fame Hits; Chuck Berry – Gold and Anthology; Booker T. & The MGs – Essentials; Credence Clearwater Revival – Platinum and Absolute Originals
Born in June, 1937 in Bexley/Columbus, OH and growing up in the Columbus, OH area where his father ran a sheet metal company and his mother worked as a volunteer for a number of local Jewish organizations, Baron Wolman graduated from Bexley High School in 1955 and went on to graduate from Northwestern University in Chicago, IL in 1959 with a degree in philosophy. In 1961, after enlisting in the Army, learning the German language and counter-intelligence skills and then being stationed in Germany, he photographed President Kennedy during his tour of the newly-erected Berlin Wall and contacted his hometown paper, The Columbus Dispatch, to see if they’d be interested in the photos. After the paper agreed (and paid him $50 for his work as a photo-journalist), Wolman decided that this would be a fine way to make a living – turning a hobby and a passion for photography into a career.
After his discharge from the Army, Baron returned to the U.S. and moved first to Los Angeles, eventually finding his way up the coast and settling in San Francisco where he photographed some of the acts driving the burgeoning music scene there. Happy that someone – anyone! – was paying attention to them, the bands gave him free access to their performances. In April of 1967, Wolman was introduced to a young Berkeley student/writer by the name of Jann Wenner who, with local music writer Ralph Gleason, was going to launch a new music magazine called Rolling Stone. Wenner was hoping that Baron would join him in that effort, and Wolman agreed, working for free in exchange for being able to retain ownership of all the photos he’d take for the magazine. The deal was struck on those terms and, for the next three years, Wolman’s access to the local music venues and acts resulted in a treasure trove of photographs for the magazine of the acts that would become the “who’s who” of the late-60s music scene – the Grateful Dead, Santana, the Doors, Frank Zappa, Janis Joplin and visiting acts such as Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Iggy & The Stooges and the Rolling Stones. Baron also covered the first Woodstock Music Festival in 1969 and was responsible for many well-known images of that event.
Wolman left Rolling Stone in 1970 to launch his own SF-based street fashion magazine titled Rags and, after publishing 13 issues, left to learn every aspect of aerial landscape photography. From that effort, he published two books of photographs on his own “Squarebooks” imprint – California From the Air: The Golden Coast in 1981 and The Holy Land: Israel From the Air in 1987. In 1975, after spending an entire season with football’s Oakland Raiders, he published another photo essay book titled Oakland Raiders: The Good Guys. He also moved from San Francisco to Marin County, doing free-lance work for magazines including Esquire and Vogue.
In 1992, he published Classic Rock & Other Rollers/Photo Portfolio, a collection of 123 color and black & white photographs of his favorite rock music subjects. In 2001, Wolman moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he continues to work (contributing to a vast array of photo books and photo postcard books) and publish books of essays and photographs such as 2005’s Visions of Santa Fe: Photographers See The City Different. In 2011, Wolman released Baron Wolman: Every Picture Tells A Story, the Rolling Stone Years, a retrospective collection that tells the tale of his time at Rolling Stone magazine, offering stories about “the making of” many of his best-known images.
Also in 2011, Wolman received a VIP Award during Classic Rock Magazine’s “Roll of Honour” Awards show from fellow photographer Ross Halfin, during which he smashed a camera on stage in homage to one of his earliest subject, guitarist Pete Townshend of The Who.
Baron’s photos are exhibited in galleries and in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Notable shows include Who Shot Rock & Roll, which launched its national tour at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 2009; a number of gallery and museum shows in support of the aforementioned 2011 release of his book The Rolling Stone Years, The Groupies (photos of famous/infamous “entourage” members) in London in October, 2012; and On Assignment: Woodstock Photographs by Rolling Stone Photographer Baron Wolman at the Bethel Woods Center Museum in NY in April, 2013.
In 2018, as a Kickstarter project, Baron and archivist/editor Dagon James produced a 98-page book built around Wolman’s entire portfolio of shots he’d taken of the late musician Jimi Hendrix titled Jimi Hendrix, 1968-1970 and, in late 2019, Baron brought his “Backstage Pass” travelling show to the Museum of the Gulf Coast in Port Arthur, TX. This museum is perhaps best-known to rock music fans for its collection of memorabilia featuring their hometown heroine Janis Joplin, along with several of Wolman’s better-known images of the singer and her band, such as the one found on the back cover (though originally intended for the front) of Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills record.
After a long battle with ALS, Baron Wolman died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on November 2, 2020 at the age of 83.
Back in August, 2017, I had the chance to tour the “Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution” event at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, IL. As part of the ongoing series of events and other activities that the museum put on in support of their show, on Thursday, August 17th, they staged a special event that, as both a fan of rock and roll photography and a regular reader of Rolling Stone Magazine over the past 50 years (!!), was truly a special opportunity and something I just had to attend – a presentation by and book-signing event titled “The Rolling Stone Years” by Wolman, the magazine’s first photographer and a man who has captured scores of photos that have helped illustrate Rock’s “golden ages”.
The evening’s opening discussion was lead by Jason Marck, a local radio personality, who provided the photographer’s introduction and an occasional question during Wolman’s hour-long slide presentation. Even though Baron was suffering a bit from a sore throat caused by the after-effects of throat surgery, it did little to curb his enthusiasm to share some of the stories behind a nice selection of his best-known photographs and more info on his own personal story, including his early career as a photographer in the military (BTW, the first photo he sold was of the Berlin Wall while stationed in Germany) and, after returning to the States and landing in the San Francisco Bay area, his introductions to both Jann Wenner at the fledgling Rolling Stone publication and rock impresario Bill Graham, the man who provided Wolman with nearly un-fettered access to his venues and the acts that played there (including Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Bob Dylan & The Band, Santana and, of course, the Grateful Dead).
With influences including the great photographers Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, it was Wolman’s own keen eye and keen interest in all of the goings on behind the scenes of the events and personalities he covered (his fascination with 1960s-era “groupies” was shared later in a critically-acclaimed photo book of his on the subject) that keeps music/art fans yearning to add selections from Wolman’s fine art print portfolio to their own collections. There were number of those fans in the audience that night, and they streamed out after the final Q&A session to both meet the photographer at the book-signing table and, perhaps, grab a photo or two with their hero. The museum was offering those in attendance the opportunity to take home, as a bonus for joining/extending their memberships, a specially-created book featuring items from the Graham exhibition and I’m quite certain that a number of those books went home with their new owners featuring the signature of the man of the hour, the talented Mr. Wolman.
After the show and my own meet-and-greet, Baron put me in touch with the Art Director who he’d worked with to create the special book done for the show – the head of design at the Ogilvy & Mather agency in Chicago, Gabriel Usadel – and he was kind enough to share a bit of info about what it was like to work with Wolman (as it turns out, Gabe’s father used to own a record store, and so he grew up with a love and fascination about album covers and the people who make them). It’s a small-but-passionate group of people, us album cover fans!
I did reach out to Gabriel after learning of Baron’s death, and he shared this with me – “Hey, Mike! I appreciate your reaching out… yes, I am SO sad to hear about Baron’s passing – he will definitely be missed.
We will forever be grateful for Baron’s historical contribution and documentation of the rock n’ roll zeitgeist. His photography (along with Rolling Stone magazine) defined an incredibly formidable era of music, politics and pop-culture during uncertain times, in America. My time, working with Baron, was brief, but i found him to be a kind, thoughtful and humble man who had no shortage of stories to share about what it took to capture virtually every major rock n’ roll band/musician of the 1960-70’s. I managed to capture some of these stories through a series of brief interviews, now preserved on a limited-edition vinyl pressing.
Most of all, Baron’s photography elevated the wild and partially-misunderstood music scene into a legitimate artform. America’s youth knew something special was happening, and it took some time for the rest of America to catch-up, but it was because of his vision, foresight and documentation that future generations can see, learn and appreciate the true spirit and beauty of the 1960’s American counter-culture.”
To learn more about Baron Wolman and his work, please visit his website at http://www.fotobaron.com/
NY Times Obit – https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/04/arts/baron-wolman-dead.html
Notice of his passing on Wolman’s own site – http://fotobaron.com/baron-wolman-25-june-1937-2-november-2020/
a) UPDATED 11/10/2020 – IT’S VOTING TIME (What, again?) – While some of you might be tired of voting, it is still the duty of album cover art fans world-wide to take a look at the 50 nominees (who’ve created an amazing array of images for LPs and 12” singles released during the year) for this year’s Best Art Vinyl 2020 Awards and select your three favorites, with the winners being selected and trophies (plaques?) awarded this coming January.
Of course, the results will be featured here – very eager to see who you all like best.
To view the previous winners of this prestigious award, click on over to the Art Vinyl site at https://artvinyl.com/lp-records-displayed-as-artwork-prize/
b) There’s a new series on Sky TV in the UK about music photography/photographers that feature appearances by many of the people who’ve given us some of the best-known images in the rock music business. Here’s the PR – “Sky Arts, Cinefromage & Eagle Rock Films proudly present ICON – Music Through The Lens, a new six-part series taking viewers on a fascinating journey through the history and cultural impact of music photography.
Featuring interviews with over fifty of the world’s best-known music photographers alongside musicians, gallerists, music journalists and social commentators each hour-long episode of ICON – Music Through The Lens examines an individual facet of the genre in detail from life on the road, the evolution of the album cover, the acceptance of music photography as fine art, the impact of the digital revolution and more. Acclaimed music director Dick Carruthers has teamed up with series curator, Executive Producer and legendary music photographer Gered Mankowitz and Executive Producer Andy Saunders.
Contributors include – Just some of the photographers interviewed alongside Gered Mankowitz about their work in music include: Jill Furmanovsky, Kevin Westenberg, Terry O’Neill, Kevin Cummins, Bob Gruen, Rachael Wright, Deborah Feingold, Baron Wolman, Neal Preston, Roger Sargent, Dean Chalkley, Tom Sheehan, Pooneh Ghana, Michael Zagaris, Mick Rock, Danny Clinch, Christie Goodwin, Albert Watson, Lynn Goldsmith and Rankin to name but a few. Sharing eye-opening insights from a musician’s viewpoint are Alice Cooper, Craig David, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Ziggy Marley, Lars Ulrich, (Metallica), Zara Larsson, Stefflon Don, Julian Lennon and Dizzee Rascal and many others.
To watch a video intro to the series, click on over to – https://iconmusicthroughthelens.com/. Then, read a show intro/summary on the Loudersound.com site – https://www.loudersound.com/news/icon-music-through-the-lens-series-launches-on-sky-arts
Gered Mankowitz was interviewed by reporters from TheWeek in the UK regarding his role as executive producer and curator of the series – https://www.theweek.co.uk/108601/gered-mankowitz-music-photography-uncovered
Our chums at Hypergallery – in the UK, so they can actually watch the series (lucky ducks!), also shared two thumbs up, as did the team at SFAE, who are featured in an episode.
c) Ultimate Guitar Magazine readers crown the “Top 25 Album Covers of All Time” – https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/articles/features/friday_top_25_best_album_covers_of_all_time-113417, while the editors on TheQuietus.com site provide us with an historical overview of album covers produced by big-time contemporary artists (Warhol, Ruscha and several others) – https://thequietus.com/articles/29301-record-sleeves-by-artists-andy-warhol-basquiat-josef-albers-salvador-dali
The string of more general album cover-related articles continued with the team at the Alternative Press giving us a pretty good take on what they view as the most “under-rated” album covers from the 2000s – https://www.altpress.com/features/underrated-2000s-album-covers/ while a site called The Urban Twist entertained us with their list of “the five best album covers of the last five years” – – http://theurbantwist.com/2020/11/17/the-5-best-album-covers-of-the-last-5-years/
d) For what seems to be the millionth time an article like this has been written, someone (unaccredited) at the UK’s Far Out Magazine site has put together a “here’s the stories behind the most iconic album covers of all time” summary – an article that goes out on a limb in so many ways (why are these the “most iconic”, not giving us ANYTHING new on the subjects, etc.) that I really didn’t want to include it in this month’s summary but, since Far Out has done some decent reporting on album art-related topics in the past, I can only surmise that they needed to fill some space/bait some clicks when they decided to publish this – https://faroutmagazine.co.uk/stories-behind-iconic-album-covers-bowie-beatles-springsteen-pink-floyd/
I can keep hoping for better.
That’s all for now – stay tuned and be on the lookout for timely news alerts on our news feed –https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – and, with any luck, we’ll return right after the first of the year (good bye 2020, and good riddance!) with another monthly summary for you. Peace and Love to you all.
Unless otherwise noted, all text and images included in this article are Copyright 2020 Mike Goldstein and AlbumCoverHallofFame.com – All Rights Reserved. All of trade names mentioned in these summaries are the properties of their respective owners and are used for reference only.