Album Cover Hall of Fame News Update and Link Summary Special Update for December 4th, 2020
For your weekend reading pleasure – I find myself having to apologize for having left out some details about stories I published earlier this week and, in one case, having forgotten to include one story altogether. No excuses – just an honest admission of my occasional bubble-headedness and the only way I know of of making up for this affliction. Without further delay, here ya go….
a) What do you get when you put four huge fans of record cover art (and rock photography and poster design and seemingly every aspect of the visual side of the recorded music business) – all with impressive credentials in the business – into the corners of a video conference screen and turn them loose to let them select and then comment on their favorite examples of this artform? Well, you get something just like the episodic series on YouTube’s NEWHD channel called “Designing for Music”, conceived and curated by the immensely-talented design duo of Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz (a design studio with credits for packages for clients including Bon Jovi, Ramones, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, the Velvet Underground and many others) featuring commentary by veteran radio personality Zach Martin and musician/producer/actor/writer Patrick Bamburak.
In this just-posted episode (the 10th in their series), Spencer, Zach and the panelists talk about album covers including Warhol’s famous banana-based image for The Velvet Underground and Nico, the I-can’t-believe-it’s-not-really-wrapped-in-twine cover on the Chicago 17 album (design by the late John Berg), Rocket to Russia for the Ramones (Danny Fields photo on the cover and a John Holmstrom cartoon on the back) and many, many more. In total, the series delivers informed and loving commentary on hundreds of designs, and I hope to be able to share a bit more about “the making of” this series sometime in the near future. In the meantime, enjoy the show.
b) My prep work for each year’s Album Cover Hall of Fame nominating and voting process includes adding and revising biographies of the people under consideration by our esteemed panel. This year’s research and writing found me working to update the impressive CV of photographer (and record exec and producer) Stephen Paley and, in response to my request for any updates (the results of which will be soon seen in his site bio), Stephen shared a never-before-published photo he’d taken early in his career that he’s allowing me to share with you, along with an anecdote about the image:
In 1966, when Stephen was in his mid-twenties (see vintage photo, below),
his girlfriend at the time, Caroline Reynolds, introduced him to a publicist she was working for named Ren Gravat. According to Stephen. “He was representing the BeeGees and they needed someone to hang around with them during their first weekend in New York, shooting candid photos. Linda Eastman was supposed to do it, but she went to East Hampton for the weekend, so I got the job. The pictures turned out pretty well (see below)
and when Neshui Ertegun, one of the owners of Atlantic Records, saw them, he liked what he saw – and me, too – so Atlantic stared giving me photography assignments for artists on the label, such as the R & B singers Aretha and Wilson Pickett, along with rock bands including the Allman Brothers, Cream and The Young Rascals, among others.
After that initial exposure, other companies started booking me, including Vogue, Life, Look and Columbia Records, where I eventually met Clive Davis who, because I also had a talent for hearing hit songs before they were hits, hired me in 1970 to work in the Epic A & R department as a Director of Talent Acquisition for Epic Records”, a position he stayed at for six years (“until disco music was becoming popular, so I knew it was time to do something else”).
My thanks to Stephen for sharing this with me/us.
c) As I’ve teased in the recent past, I’ve been working on an interview with one of the people responsible for what is considered one of the best (if not THE best, depending on the survey) album covers of the rock music era, that being Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles. Artist/designer/sculptor Jann Haworth, working with her then-husband Peter Blake, photographer Michael Cooper and a small team of other artists and assistants, created the huge, life-sized collage which served as the basis for the cover – one that would go on to inspire an ever-expanding series of homages/parodies and, more recently, some works of public art done by Ms. Haworth and a slew of contributing artists (that can be seen in Salt Lake City, UT) to honor ”heroes and heroines of the 21st Century”.
I’m happy to report that we’re nearly done working together on this article and, with any luck, we’ll have it up for your reading pleasure in the next 7-10 days, so please be sure to check the ACHOF site for a link to the article (of course, you can sign up to receive notices of site updates automatically once they’ve been posted, too). Thanks for your patience – back to you soon.