Tag Archives: Sgt. Pepper’s

Album Cover Art and Artist News Summary for the Month of March, 2017

ALBUM COVER HALL OF FAME’S ALBUM COVER NEWS RECAP FOR THE MONTH OF MARCH, 2017

Greetings once again from Chicagoland. Winter is slowly turning into Spring and, I have to tell you, this past Winter wasn’t anything like the ones I remember as a kid growing up here 50+ years ago. In fact, it was almost like a Portland winter (rain, one big snow, lots of mild days) and it has confused the heck out of me (and the plants and trees and people who shovel snow for a living), but I’ll take it any day over -30 degree wind chills, snow up to here and icy sidewalks. Too bad that we had to ruin the planet to make for a nice winter in Chicago, but that’s another column for another publication…

I’m continuing to work hard on my book and, based on the feedback I’m getting from folks who’ve received some of my “leaks”, it should be something that any fan of album cover art/artists will like. Quite honestly, it’s deciding what to/not to include in this first collection that’s been the toughest part, because I want to share everyone’s stories, but I’m trying to keep the book’s length to less than a thousand pages and published price at less than a million dollars, so some things will have to be reserved for a follow-up effort. More to come, for sure.

In this month’s summary (which, luckily for me, falls on a Friday, allowing me to combine my weekly/monthly posts into one – I’m just a lazy guy), you’ll find more examples of the stories about the talented people working to produce great visuals for clients in the music business. You’ll find that the galleries, publishers, curators, etc. who support and promote these works are continuing to promote these good works and are sharing the fascinating details about what they do with the rest of us. There continues to be a significant number of items about album cover art/artists in daily the news cycle, adding items of interest and fascination to the ongoing stream of articles, interviews, museum and gallery show information you’ll read on a wide range of related topics.

Please share this info with everyone you know who are fans of great album cover-related talent and, of course, your comments and feedback are quite welcome.

1) Upcoming, recently-launched/CuRRENTLY-RUNNING and just-closed show/exhibitions –

a) One of the key events on the calendar of any fan of illustrative art is the The MoCCA Arts Festival in Manhattan, NY. This 2-day multimedia event, taking place on Saturday and Sunday, April 1st and 2nd at the Metropolitan West venue on West 46th Street (with a kick-off event taking place on Friday evening) is billed as “Manhattan’s largest independent comics, cartoon and animation festival”, drawing thousands of attendees each year.

In addition to the 400+ exhibiting artists from disciplines such as comic books, animation, commercial/editorial work and the book publishing world that will have their work on display, there will be artists on-hand – including several award-winning honorees who’ll be holding seminars/lectures and demonstrations – who’ve expanded their portfolios to include work on album covers such as Alexandra Lobo, musician/artist Jeffrey Lewis and “guests of honor” including (among others) Drew Friedman, the comic artist and prolific editorial illustrator who’s also done covers for Michael Nesmith, Mike Bloomfield & Al Kooper and several “best of” compilations, V For Vendetta’s David Lloyd and Becky Cloonan who, in addition to being the first female artist to draw Batman for DC Comics, is the artist responsible for a Gaugin-inspired 2006 album cover for a rap act with one of the best names in the business, The CunnyLinguists.

There will also be film and educational programs that will be taking place during the event, so click on over to the Society of Illustrator’s event page via the link to learn more – https://www.societyillustrators.org/mocca-arts-festival

b) Photographer Brian Griffin has long supplied the world of album art with many of its best-known images, including his work with designer Barney Bubbles and the Stiff Records label and for musical acts such as Kate Bush, Depeche Mode, Echo & The Bunnymen, Joe Jackson, Iggy Pop, R.E.M. and many others. In the late 1970s, Brian’s keen eye and unique approach to framing an image produced both several series of much-lauded photos for editorial and commercial clients and a limited-edition photo book (now out-of-print) with designer Bubbles called © Brian Griffin 1978 and, beginning April 13th at The Society Club’s gallery space in Soho, London, a series of 18 darkroom prints taken from that book will be put on display in an exhibit titled Circa 1978.

According to Mr. Griffin, in thinking back on this work, “the thing about the 1970s is that it was very still. If you look at my images from that time, and from others like my best friend Martin Parr, there’s a remarkable stillness to them. I don’t really know if we were looking forward to anything. But at the same time, there was of all this amazing music and art being made under the surface.” He’s since stated that the book was really a self-portrait of himself at the time, symbolically-represented, so if you’d like to have the opportunity to dig further into the psyche of one of the U.K.’s most-influential and awarded portrait photographers, please follow the link to The Society Club’s info page on the event – http://www.thesocietyclub.com/events-1/2017/3/14/soho-circa-1978-a-exhibition-of-work-by-brian-griffin

Show hours are Monday – Saturday from 11.00AM – 6.00PM (Closed Sundays)

c) On display now through April 23rd at Proud Galleries Camden (U.K.) is a photo show featuring the works of Paul Harries in a 20-year career retrospective exhibition titled Access All Areas: Photographs by Paul Harries. Well-known in hard rock/metal music circles for his portraits of top acts including Metallica, Muse, Nirvana, Ozzy and Slipknot (among many others) and for his many years of editorial photo contributions to Kerrang! magazine, the exhibition showcases Harries’ portfolio that also includes dozens of shots used on records released by Cradle of Filth, Killswitch Engage, Arch Enemy, Napalm Death and the Dropkick Murphys. There are a number of limited-edition prints that are on sale (at very reasonable prices, I might add), so if you’d like to see what’s on hand and learn more about this very talented shooter, please click on over to the Proud Galleries site at https://www.proudonline.co.uk/exhibitions

d) Wednesday April 5th at 1PM EST, photographer and American Crew hair care products founder David Raccuglia leads a lecture at Berklee College in Boston, MA titled “The Style of Elvis: A Talk with David Raccuglia”. Part of a week-long series of events (running April 3rd through the 7th which includes displays, lectures, discussions and film screenings) that have been developed to help showcase the business side of Elvis Presley’s career (all under the moniker “Elvis Legacy Week: Music Makes an Artist, Style Makes an Icon”), David will be highlighting the unique and long-lasting visual and stylistic aspects of Presley. hoping to imbue on these students that they can monetize their own images and, if possible, “create a recognizable brand.”

In these days of having to manage and develop valuable relationships with new and existing fans, who better to base your success story on than the man from Tupelo, MS who, while raised in a shotgun shack built by his father before starting out his career as a musician while still a young teen, grew into one of the most-successful entertainers/entertainment brands in pop music history. Raccuglia, who has helped build the visuals (including album cover shots) for entertainers including, Pete Yorn, Phanton Planet, Otis Taylor and, more recently, Iggy & The Stooges while building his company into an industry leader in salon products, seems quite qualified for the task of guiding young people poised to enter the business world. More on this lecture is available via the link at https://www.berklee.edu/events/panel-style-elvis 

e) Over his 50+ year career in the arts, designer John Van Hamersveld has ingratiated himself to art fans via his notable output in the areas of music (Magical Mystery Tour for The Beatles, Exile on Main Street for the Rolling Stones and Hotter Than Hell for KISS are just a few examples), film (the iconic surf film Endless Summer) and post-punk fashion (stylings for Blondie and post-Sex Pistols John Lydon), it’s only fitting that he be on hand as part of a group of influential local artists being presented under the moniker “California Locos” (and who’ve each contributed greatly to the Los Angeles-area cultural scene) whose works were featured in a “pop up” show that was staged over the weekend beginning March 16th (and running thru March 19th) that coincided with the long-awaited opening of the newest skate park there.

The “California Locos” are Chaz Bojorquez, Dave Tourje, John Van Hamersveld, Norton Wisdom and Gary Wong and, according to a promo by the Manhattan Beach (CA) Art Center, the venue that hosted this show, “together and separately, these forces of artistic nature embody the innovative, lively, and rebellious spirit of Los Angeles. Rather than suggesting a cohesive or coinable L.A aesthetic, California Locos presents a collision of visions – a kaleidoscopic perspective of the urban art experiences through highly individualized and expertly crafted works of art: from loose and spontaneous performance painting, to deliberate psychedelic graphics and painterly street graffiti. What unifies these artists is their shared conviction that being raised in this sprawling metropolis fundamentally and distinctively informs and guides their art.”

Fans had a chance to meet the artists, listen to some live music, tour the art exhibition and take in the cool skate park vibe in a series of events staged throughout the weekend. More info is up on the Manhattan Beach city web site – http://www.citymb.info/city-services/parks-and-recreation/cultural-arts/exhibition/upcoming-exhibitions

Add’l info and photos from the shindig can be found on the event’s Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/events/879707702172085/

f) Both an exhibition and an opportunity to meet some of the music industry’s best-known graphic artists and then buy some of their latest creations, the “Flatstock” shows have always been a great draw and, with the latest one – Flatstock 59 – having taken place recently as part of the uber-popular SXSW show in Austin, TX, I’m sure that the tradition continued in fine style. As you know, many of the artists that work in the album cover art arena also labor to provide their clients with imagery for their live shows, and with gig posters typically available at very-affordable prices, this show has always served as the place where smart collectors go to augment their collections.

This year’s show – organized by the American Poster Institute – ran for three full days beginning March 16th and was available for viewing by all SXSW pass holders inside the Austin Convention Center. More info on the show can be found on their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/events/686209521550960/?  while more about Flatstock and the American Poster Institute, organizers of the event, can be seen on this site – http://americanposterinstitute.com/flatstock

g) And I thought that I was a hoarder! Turns out that, when you’re in a band for 40 or 50 years, you tend to accumulate a lot of stuff and, when you’re a big-enough act, you get the opportunity to share what you’ve collected with your fans, and charge for the privilege! I’d like to point out two such examples today – one continuing on its world-wide tour and the other launching later this Spring:

– The Rolling Stones’ Exhibitionism tour continues its major city/venue conquest when it closes in NYC on March 12 and then moves its over 18,000 square feet of rare memorabilia to Chicago’s Navy Pier area this coming April. According to the folks staging the display, the show will “immerse visitors into the largest touring exhibition of its kind ever to be staged…core to Chicago’s brand and history is our amazing tradition of music – from the birthplace of the Blues and Jazz to the continued evolution of all forms of music and entertainment today – on our stages, on our festival grounds and in our nightclubs,” said David Whitaker, President & CEO of Choose Chicago. “Having the privilege of hosting The Rolling Stones Exhibitionism gives us a tremendous platform to provide visitors with not only anew reason to visit, but also a compelling opportunity to experience it in the heart of our city at Navy Pier – one of the most successful attractions in the United States.”

The exhibition launched last year at London’s Saatchi Gallery and, after setting attendance records there, moved to the Industria venue in New York City, where it has garnered many positive reviews there as well. After its Chicago run, the show will travel across the globe to Sydney, Australia.

Complete information on the show can be found at http://www.stonesexhibitionism.com/exhibitionism-is-coming-to-chicago/

– London’s Victoria & Albert (V&A) Museum has hosted some stellar rock music-oriented shows within its hallowed halls in the past, the most-recent being the exhibition built around the life and music of the late David Bowie. The positive reviews (and major bump in attendance) the venue received from that show certainly served as the inspiration for the development of the next show slated to open there this May 13th that, based on the advance press info, looks like it’ll be a smash. Working with Pink Floyd alumni Nick Mason, Roger Waters and designer Aubrey Powell (from the famed Hipgnosis design firm), The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains will showcase over 350 examples of artwork, stage props, photographs, video and more from the band’s earliest incarnation (including the talented-yet-tortured Syd Barratt) up to their 2014 Endless River release and will include a re-creation of the famed underground club UFO, where Floyd was the “house band” nearly 50 years ago.

DesignWeek’s Tom Banks provides a nice overview of the upcoming show, including comments from all of the players involved in the organizing and staging of it – https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/13-19-february-2017/va-set-blockbuster-pink-floyd-exhibition/

2) Artist interviews/profile articles –

a) When you’re both a top-tier designer and a huge Pink Floyd fan, I’d assume that when you’re given the opportunity to work with the band and their long-time design guru Aubrey Powell to design the packaging for a huge, multi-volume collection of PF music (“6 Individual Volumes available as Multi-disc Book-bound packages Featuring Rare Tracks, Demos, Interviews, and Film Footage Each ‘Year’ CD, DVD & Blu-Ray package includes Photo Book & Memorabilia”, as described on their product promo site), it becomes an opportunity to really “show your chops”. And as it was an opportunity added on to an original design brief that was limited to designing some type for a re-working of the band’s Animals record, you can also assume that they’d want to rise to the occasion and present the best work possible to this very important client, with the story behind this new work by Pentagram’s Harry Pearce and his team now detailed in TWO new stories that have been posted, the first by Katharine Schwab on Fast Company’s Design site (https://www.fastcodesign.com/3069074/pink-floyd-records-new-identity-was-40-years-in-the-making) with the other by Rachael Steven on the Creative Review site – https://www.creativereview.co.uk/pink-floyd-records-early-years-box-set-hipgnosis/

Released last year on Pink Floyd Records, Pink Floyd: The Early Years documents the band’s early output from 1965-1972. You can review all what’s included in each of the volumes on their site at http://the-early-years.pinkfloyd.com/

b) In this recent NME profile featuring 2X Grammy-nominated designer Mark Farrow of London’s Farrow Design, you’ll get the inside scoop about his latest work for UK hip-hop artist Michael Omari, better known to his fans as “Stormzy”. Teaming up with photographer John Ross, whose portfolio includes album cover images for musical acts including Manic Street Preachers, Pet Shop Boys, Spiritualized, David Gray, Kylie Minogue and DJ Shadow as well as promo imagery for Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglorious Basterds and commercial work for brands including Piaget, Ducati and The Botanist Islay Gin (a personal favorite of yours truly), the pair chose to produce a recreation of DaVinci’s The Last Supper, with a balaclava-clad Stormzy and his compadres stepping in to the roles of Christ and his disciples, for the cover of the young grime sensation’s latest release titled Gang Signs & Prayer (AKA “GSAP”).

Farrow, who has music client credits for work for many of the aforementioned acts as well as others including Burt Bacharach and Snow Patrol, worked with Stormzy and Ross for weeks before they arrived at an approach that would not be seen as a parody of the highly-revered but, rather, as a modern representation of the musician’s faith.

Read more of reporter Jamie Milton’s profile at http://www.nme.com/blogs/how-stormzy-made-gang-signs-prayer-album-cover-1999236

To see more of the work of photographer Ross, click on over to his web site at http://www.johnross.co.uk/  and, to dig into the portfolio of Farrow Design, visit http://www.farrowdesign.com/

c) The April 2017 issue of Juxtapoz Magazine has a profile/interview I think you’ll find interesting with Brooklyn-based artist/musician/collector of all things odd-yet-beautiful-in-their-own-special-way, Joe Coleman, Jr. Interviewed by noted production designer Gregg Gibbs in advance of an upcoming solo art exhibition that launches April 8th at the Nicholas & Lee Begovich Gallery on the campus of Cal State Fullerton (CA) – one that takes visitors back to his early days as a comic book artist and then over several decades to his more-recent work as a fine artist, producing highly-detailed epic-scale works that can often include as much text as imagery.

With a personal collection of macabre artifacts that’s been organized into what’s known as The Odditorium, Coleman also has several album cover credits including work for musical acts such as The Delgados, Damnation and Ambush, along with a late 70s disc by his own band, Steel Tips. He also created promo art for the John McNaughton-directed film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer that proved to be as controversial as the film’s subject material. This profile will give you a deeper look into what has sculpted Joe’s approach to art-making, including time he spent as a taxi driver in New York City back in the days when it was a tad seedier than visitors will find it these days….https://www.juxtapoz.com/news/magazine/joe-coleman-the-devil-and-design-in-the-details/

Details on the upcoming art show (including the April 8th opening reception) can be found on the gallery’s site at http://www.fullerton.edu/arts/art/galleries/begovich_gallery/begovich_detail-3.php

d) Famed album cover art director Paula Scher is the subject of Episode 6 in the recently-released Netflix series featuring profiles on eight different artists who’ve made names for themselves in all aspects of the graphic arts world. Now available for binge-watching are the eight episodes that make up the first season of Abstract: The Art of Design, with this batch including hour-long portraits of Scher and her compatriots in the design world including notables such as architect Bjarke Ingels, illustrator Christoph Niemann, Nike’s Tinker Hatfield (of Air Jordans fame) and set/stage designer Es Devlin, who counts music industry design consumer Kanye W. amongst her clients.

The New Yorker‘s Rob Walker takes us on a brief tour of the series, produced by former Wired Magazine editor Scott Dadich, and his accompanying commentary makes us think a bit about just how broadly-defined the word “designer” seems these day – the same way that the use of the word “architect” has been expanded beyond its original (perhaps a bit too far, in some cases). Read Rob’s article/intro (“Celebrating Design Without Contending With It”) via the link at http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/celebrating-design-without-contending-with-it  and, to learn more about the series and watch its trailer, click on over to https://www.netflix.com/title/80057883

e) In case you missed my mid-week post touting my interview with Taschen Publishing’s Julius Wiedemann regarding his take on the roles album cover art serves in the worlds of fine art and pop culture (in support of his latest book, Art Record Covers), I’d invite you to take a moment and link over to the ACHOF site to read it – https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/interview-with-taschens-julius-wiedemann-about-his-newest-book-art-record-covers/

f) The Detroit-based Whign design collective (“a creative team composed of Thinkers, Artists, Progressers and Entrepreneurs, linked with a common purpose, possessing skills and talents that vary depending on the task at hand”), lead by 25-year-old design phenom Antonio “Tony The Whlgn” Robinson, has been responsible for the memorable designs featured  on records and promo materials for music industry clients such as Joey BadA$$’s Pro Era collective, Big K.R.I.T.,  Dej Loaf and the Cinematic Music Group and commercial clients including Mark Ecko Enterprises and KITH NYC.

Andre Ellington recently contributed an article to the Rolling Out entertainment web site in which he interviewed the group’s manager, Allante Steele, about Tony’s background, career and the importance of relationships and networking when it comes to doing business these days – http://rollingout.com/2017/02/21/tony-whlgn-designer-behind-favorite-album-covers/

Based on what we’ve seen so far, this young artist will be impressing us for many years to come.

g) Be on the lookout later today (March 31) for a specially-posted article featuring excerpts from a feature by designer/music journalist Andrew Dineley on the talented French design team of Pierre et Gilles. I’m very pleased to be able to share this with you, so check back soon.

3) Sales/Auctions –

a) As I had reported a couple weeks back, the San Francisco Art Exchange LLC (SFAE) has been selected to offer collectors a chance to own part of what the gallery is calling “the most valuable collection of rock and roll artwork ever to be offered for sale”, that being a group of eleven original paintings by artist Gerald Scarfe that served as the visual backbone for both the film and record album of Pink Floyd’s 1982 epic productions of The Wall.

According to a newer press release I received this week on the topic, “the paintings being offered have been carefully selected by Scarfe as his most important works, and include several of the most famous images in rock history due to their association with The Wall. Among the paintings are the true definitive originals for iconic artworks such as The Scream, Wife With Flaming Hair, Giant Judge and Hammers, The Mother, Education For What? No Jobs!, The Wife’s Shadow, One of The Frightened Ones, The Gross Inflatable Pig, Comfortably Numb, and The Teacher, as well as the massive original storyboard created for the film which incorporates 50 original renderings.”

One of the paintings available for purchase, Giant Judge and Hammers, will be prominently on display in London beginning May 13, 2017 as part of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s eagerly anticipated The Pink Floyd Exhibition: Their Mortal Remains, while a major exhibition will be held in July with Scarfe in attendance at the invitation-only premier to be held at SFAE’s gallery on Geary Street in San Francisco, CA, with more details to be announced soon. Gallery reps have told me that several of the works have already been spoken for, so if you’d like to see what remains and grab a bit of rock ‘n’ roll history to add to your own collection, I’d suggest clicking on over to the gallery’s site at http://www.sfae.com/announcements/2017/the_wall/index.html

b) The Heritage Auction house hosted another Entertainment & Music Memorabilia auction in mid-March in Dallas, TX that had several album art-based offerings should have been of interest to collectors. While autographed record albums aren’t usually the focus of my reporting, the variety of signed covers – along with other items such as promo displays, original tour art illustrations and the like – being offered was such that I thought I’d pass the info on…

Included in the auction were signed record cover presentations from musical acts such as Aerosmith, Eurythmics, The Police, The Beatles, Def Leppard and many others. Online bidding started at 12:00PM Central Time, Saturday, March 18, 2017, while Live Proxy bidding on Heritage Live started 24 hours before the live session and continued through the session’s end.

Here’s a link to the auction’s page on the Heritage site –

https://entertainment.ha.com/c/search-results.zx?N=2156+4294944953+794+793+792&Ntk=SI_Titles-Desc&Nty=1&Ntt=cover&limitTo=4294944953&ic4=KeywordSearch-A-Y-071316

UPDATE – I checked back after the auction to see what was sold, and it looks as though some items did quite well for their previous owners, while others were had at less-than-expected prices. For example, an autographed photo of Michael Jackson taken during the cover shoot for Bad sold for $4750 (it had a starting bid of $500), and a signed Bad LP sold for $1500. A cardboard store display for the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls – featuring a design by Peter Corriston, who’d go on to design the band’s next 3 covers, along with the eye-catching Illustrations of Hubert Kretzschmar – sold for $3750 and a fully-autographed copy of Regatta de Blanc from the Police was picked up for $425, while on the other end of the spectrum, autographed copies of Touch by Eurythmics, Whiplash Smile by Billy Idol and Love Bites by Judas Priest (delivered on a very colorful picture disc, to boot) sold for $137.50, $94 and $79 respectively, showing collectors that bargains may still be had in these big-name auctions!

c) Alisdair and Mike at Visual Gallery are having a sale featuring some special pricing on a nice selection of album cover art prints including AC/DC’s Back In Black, John Lennon’s Walls & Bridges, several different Rolling Stones cover prints (inc. Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main Street and Some Girls) and a print of the gatefold cover for The Who’s Tommy (with art by Mike McInnerney) that has been autographed by lead singer Roger Daltry. You can take a look at these and some of the other sales items they have available via this link – http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1101302370472&ca=a9df76cc-e19d-494a-b06f-728e5f743f93

d) On March 11th, the Potter & Potter Auction House in Chicago staged a Movie & Music Memorabilia Auction that included a couple of items that fans of album art should have been of interest to collectors. The first item is a limited-edition lithograph print of the cover art for Billy Joel’s 1993 record River of Dreams (which boasts a cover painting by then-wife Christie Brinkley) that’s been autographed by the Piano Man himself – http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/billy-joel-autographed-river-of-dreams-lithograph-608-c-64f47b2909

The print had a pre-auction estimate of anywhere from $150 – $300, but sold to a lucky collector who presented  a $200 high bid. I’d expected this to sell for more than the asking price, but then, what do I know?.

Another item I’d highlighted – a purple hooded cape that the talented and mysterious singer Stevie Nicks wore to her photo shoot with Herb Worthington for the cover image for her 1983 release The Wild Heart, was up for sale to those  willing to add a significant charge to your credit card account this month. This bit of rock & roll history had a pre-auction estimated value of $1000 – $2000, with current bidding at $600 when I’d first written about it and which ultimately sold for $1000.

http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/stevie-nicks-cape-worn-for-wild-hearts-album-ar-533-c-c85461a9ac

I’m certain that whoever purchased this cape is bound to show up to an event with this on, with fans in the know either Standing Back (or would they Run To You)?

4) New Print/Book Publishing –

a) Friend of the ACHOF Andrew Dineley (of Liverpool’s SoftOctopus Design Studio) is now writing a new column for a new print/digital publication – an offshoot of the popular Classic Pop magazine) that’s targeted at the growing base of vinyl record fans (and, I can only assume, fans of LP and 7″-sized record artwork and packaging). About ready to release its second issue in the UK, Long Live Vinyl magazine will be home to Andrew’s regular contributions about “collecting and fandom” under the banner “A Few of my Favourite Things”. The pub’s first issue included his article about a “super fan of Prince” and his personal memorabilia collection, along with a nice feature on famed album artist Roger Dean. Andrew’s second article – to be included in the upcoming issue – will be quite personal as it is built around his own personal collection of all things Pet Shop Boys.

If you’d like to learn more about this new publication, click on over to the publisher’s page at  http://anthem-publishing.com/longlivevinyl

Here is a link to a subscription page for UK customers – https://anthem.subscribeonline.co.uk/vinyl

and for folks in the US and Canada, here’s a link to their North American distribution partner’s site – http://www.imsnews.com/home.php?page=magPage&pubid=10314

Those on Facebook can stay updated via their news stream – https://www.facebook.com/longlivevinyl

Update – The magazine has launched its own web site, which can now be visited and its news stories explored via the link – http://www.longlivevinyl.net/category/news/

b) While I’d previously told you (see Section 5, item D, below) about the upcoming series of postage stamps created to honor the memory of the late, great David Bowie, the folks at Goldmine Magazine recently pointed me to a company called Buckingham Covers that provides collectors with “something special” – in this case, a series of limited-edition, framed art pieces built around these stamps. For example, they’re promoting an item called the “Limited Edition David Bowie Vinyl Art Framed with UK First Day Cover” (priced from £101.06) that puts six of the new stamps featuring the following album covers: Hunky Dory (1971); Aladdin Sane (1973); Heroes (1977); Let’s Dance (1983); Earthling (1997) and 2016’s Blackstar and a Heddon Street postmark (14th March, 2017) on top of a photo taken at a live concert. Topping this off is a work of vinyl art, cut with a water jet, done in the shape of Bowie’s Aladdin Sane

Other items in the collection include two more first day cover sets, so if you’d like to grab something a little different for yourself or the David Bowie fans in your life, click on over to the Buckingham Covers site to view what’s available…https://buckinghamcovers.com/goldmine?

c) Heralded designer Aubrey Powell teased us all several years ago with a book about some of the work done by the much-lauded design group called Hipgnosis when he authored the 2014 tome titled Hipgnosis Portraits (which included a nice forward by Robert Plant) but, hey folks, it’s 2017 and now we want it all and Mr. Powell and the folks at the Thames & Hudson publishing house will be fulfilling that request next month when they release Album.Cover.Art, a collection that includes all 377 record covers the group produced throughout its entire history. With a portfolio that begins in 1967 with work for their chums Pink Floyd through instantly-recognizable covers for Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, 10ccs and many others, the book (with a foreword by the aforementioned Mr. Gabriel) is an instant classic. Due to be published on April 13th, pre-orders are now being accepted at your favorite booksellers and, if you’d like to read a short preview article on the topic, Anton Spice has provided such a thing on The Vinyl Factory’s site – http://thevinylfactory.com/news/vinyl-album-cover-art-hipgnosis-book/

d) Nearly every “best album cover” list you read has the cover for The Beatles’ Pepper’s at or near the top of it, and with music fans celebrating the 50th anniversary of the record’s fall from Heaven onto our turntables later this Spring, I was happy to receive notice from author Bill DeMain about his collaboration with famed artist Mike McInnerney and writer Gillian G. Gaar which has resulted in a new book titled Sgt Pepper at 50: The Mood, The Look, The Sound, The Legacy Of The Beatles’ Great Masterpiece that will bring all of the unique aspects of the album’s conception and production to light for us.

DeMain, whose contributions to publications such as MOJO, Classic Rock, Mental Floss and Performing Songwriter, also leads visitors to Nashville, TN on the top-rated walking tour of this music-centric town – “Walkin’ Nashville”, while McInnerney, the former art editor for Britain’s International Times and the painter of the image used on the gatefold cover of The Who’s Tommy, received an Individual Achievement Award for that work in 2012 from the Album Cover Hall of Fame . Set for release on June 1st (the date of the record’s release in 1967), the 176-page full-color book (with over 225 illustrations) can be pre-ordered now at your favorite bookseller.

https://www.sterlingpublishing.com/9781454923787/?category=

5) Other articles of interest –

a) Like anyone who was an avid reader of Rolling Stone Magazine in the 1970s and early 1980s, I was always more-than-impressed by the wonderful portraits of celebs from all walks of life that were included, with most of them shot by the mag’s top photographer, Annie Leibovitz. During that time (and continuing on until this day), she also fed album cover fans with a steady stream of memorable images, including cover shots for acts such as The Band, Boz Scaggs and Cyndi Lauper, and so it was with great interest that I read this recent Artnet.com article (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/annie-leibovitz-archive-luma-foundation-890540?) by Caroline Elbaor about an archive of over 8,000 photographs that were donated to Switzerland’s LUMA Foundation and which selections of will soon be put on display in a new show at the group’s Frank Gehry-designed digs in Arles, France (the Grand Hall in the Parc des Ateliers) called “Annie Leibovitz Archive Project #1: The Early Years”.

Opening on May 27th, the exhibition will, according to the article, “focus on the photographer’s work between 1968 and 1983 and is intended as the first of several projects dedicated to Leibovitz’s career-beginnings. The show will also mark the first time that the archives become available to the public.” The Foundation declared that the show is “Intended as the first of several major projects dedicated to the study and reinterpretation of the artist’s living archives” and “traces her development as a young artist, and follows her successes in the 1970s as she documented the culture that defined this pivotal era.”

The show will be on display until the 24th of September, with more info available on their web site at http://www.luma-arles.org/programme/#annieleibovitzarchiveproject#1

b) The Herb Ritts Foundation estimates that, during the photographer’s brief-but-influential career (he died in 2002 at the age of 50), Ritts shot over 2 MILLION rolls of film, out of which scores of memorable images, including album cover photos for clients such as Madonna, Olivia Newton-John, Billy Idol, Warren Zevon and many, many others. Another of his famous subjects was Elton John who, readers of this news feed know, is quite the art collector himself and who, during the many years of their friendship and working relationship, added a number of Ritts’ fine art prints to his personal collection.

On April 6th, as part of a fund-raising effort for Sir Elton’s Elton John AIDS Foundation, one of the photographer’s better-known shots – Backflip, Paradise Cove, 1987 – will be included in an auction held in NYC by Christie’s. This particular image is made even more valuable as it was one that Ritts hung in his own home, and so the charity will certainly benefit nicely from this sale, with a pre-auction estimate set at $40,000 – $60,000. As part of the promotion of this event, the auction house has posted an article on the item that also includes a 4-minute video about the photographer that fans will certainly enjoy –

http://www.christies.com/features/Inside-the-archives-of-photographer-Herb-Ritts-8170-3.aspx

c) Ken Robbins left his job as an editor for the Doubleday publishing house in New York City in the early 1970s and moved out to the East End of Long Island – better-known as The Hamptons – to live a quieter life there. He and his wife first opened up a small movie theater and then began photographing the local landscape, with his pictures soon becoming as much-appreciated as his wit and generosity. Expanding his subject material to create a greater range of still life photos, his work would go on to be used in many books, magazines and album covers, where his credits include work for Miles Davis (Circle In The Round), John Hammond (Nobody But You) and several designs and photos for Aretha Franklin.

As news sometimes doesn’t get to me that quickly, I have the sad task of reporting that Ken Robbins died 2 weeks ago at his home in Springs, NY at the age of 71. I’d seen his work several times in galleries, as illustrations in local papers and at the Hecksher Museum in Huntington (where I lived at the time)  and also remember some of his beautifully-illustrated educational kids books. Truly someone who used his talents to make broad swaths of people happy, it’s sad to see him gone so young.

Here’s Ken’s obit in the local East Hampton Star paper – http://easthamptonstar.com/Obituaries/2017323/Ken-Robbins-Noted-Photographer

d) Writing for Design Week (UK), Tom Banks talks to the talented folks who helped design and develop the new series of Royal Mail postage stamps based on the career of the late David Bowie. The latest in the organization’s Classic Album Art series (now in its 7th year), the stamps are sold alongside a collection of ancillary items including specially-curated “presentation packs”, a series of art prints and other collectibles created by the Supple Studio in Bath, UK. , whose other work for their Royal Mail clients includes several “year packs”, “collector’s packs”, commemorative designs for the Queen’s 90th birthday and products based on the Adam Hargreaves-authored “ Men & Little Miss” book series.

In addition to the album cover-based stamps, there’s an entire group of items that showcase Bowie’s time spent in Berlin, Germany (1976-78) rightly-titled David Bowie: The Berlin Years.

https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/13-19-march-2017/royal-mails-david-bowie-stamps-designed/

See more of Supple Studio’s work, along with a nicely-illustrated tour of their Bowie-related output, on their site a http://supplestudio.com/work/david-bowie

Finally, as if Bowie’s fame and influence were not enough to entice collectors, a rather-unique stunt was launched – and I do me “launched” – that took 52 sets of the new stamps into space via weather balloon. The balloon rose to over 110,000 feet before trackers lost contact with the craft, but if you go to the project’s site at http://www.royalmail.com/stampstoearth  you’ll be able to watch a 20-minute video shot by a camera on the balloon before it finally tumbled to the ground. Where did “The Stamps That Fell To Earth” fall? If you can guess the answer sometime between now and March 26th, you could win one of the high-flying stamp sets for your very own. Grab your compass and trident and take your best guess…

e) The art historian behind the Art Record Covers book previously discussed on this site – Francesco Spampinato – has grabbed 13 of the covers he and Julius W. have included in the book and provided some anecdotes on each in an article recently published on the Creative Review web site – https://www.creativereview.co.uk/art-record-covers-10-great-sleeves-visual-artists/

As part of my own work history included some years in the music television business, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of the covers that has always reminded me of the fun some musical acts have while creating the promo packaging and videos they do for their recordings – this one being the very funny-yet-disturbing cover derived from the identity-bending music video (featuring a stretch limo that will remind movie fans of the opening scene from Spaceballs) crafted by British video pro Chris Cunningham for Irish electronic act Aphex Twin’s 1999 release Windowlicker.

For a quick bit of entertainment, Cunningham has one of the more-intriguing web site home pages you’ll find, too – certainly a test for your video card – http://chriscunninghamstudio.com/

f) The people of the Brixton neighborhood in London, U.K., have always been proud of their local-boy-done-good, the late rocker David Bowie, but now that he’s gone, they’ve decided to work on a more-permanent way to honor his legacy. Launched in late February, there’s a crowd-funding effort to build a Aladdin Sane-influenced lightning bolt sculpture – tentatively-titled Ziggy Zap – that would stand almost 30 feet tall, with comps supplied by the This Ain’t Rock ‘n’ Roll design team (Jon Daniel and Daniel Fisher) – the same folks who created the artwork for the specially-produced £10 note circulated locally beginning in 2011 that bears Brian Duffy’s famous Aladdin Sane cover photo on the front of that currency.

Creative Review’s Mark Sinclair posted an article recently that provides us with the background on this project – https://www.creativereview.co.uk/david-bowie-memorial-project-launched/

As of this date, the organizers have earned about £50,000 of the £990,000 they’ve determined they need. With only 17 days left to the campaign, it’s looking as though the area near the local Underground station will have to be happy with the large-scale mural that was installed a few years back, but perhaps some well-heeled Bowie fans will come in soon to save the day. You can contribute to the cause via the link – http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/bowie

UPDATE – The project did not raise the needed funds so, sadly, the initial project scope will have to be revisited. Nonetheless, the organizers are undaunted and, according to their project funding site, ” we have no plans to go away. We are still determined to celebrate David Bowie, in Brixton, with a challenging and appropriate piece of public art.  We’re just going to have to approach the fundraising in a different way…Along the way, we’ve learned a hell of a lot. And we’ll be able to plough that learning back into the project, and return with a ZiggyZag #2 that’s even better (and hopefully a bit cheaper).” With over 700 pledges made from fans all over the world, I’ll be sure to follow up on this as more information becomes available.

g) Judas Priest album art fans who clicked on over to the Goldmine Magazine web site before March 15th had the chance to enter to win a limited-edition, autographed litho print of the band’s Turbo 30 record cover. Fans will recall the original Doug Johnson design featured on the band’s original 1986 release Turbo (featuring fan favorite tune “Turbo Lover”) and will really be impressed with the sound of this newly-remastered album, so while you might be a little too late for this particular contest, I’d invite you to sign up to get Goldmine‘s e-newsletter, where you’ll greatly improve both your knowledge of all things classic vinyl and get advanced notice about future contest opportunities. If you’d like to see what you missed, click on over when you get the chance – http://www.goldminemag.com/features/judas-priest-turbo-autographed-lithograph-giveaway?#/

SPECIAL NOTE IN SUPPORT OF THE ARTS – I have always worked to make sure that my reporting was focused on the facts and not so much an expression of my own tastes, keeping my editorial comments mostly of the humorous variety. With today’s news regarding the new Administration’s proposed gutting of Arts and Humanities program funding from the federal budget, I find it necessary to appeal to everyone who understands the importance of these programs to both a well-rounded education for our kids and the livelihoods of those who use government grants to further their efforts to produce great art, music and writing for all of us and ask you to make sure to contact your local/state/federal representatives to implore them to maintain these investments in our country’s future.

Unless, of course, the plan is to hire all of these artists to paint the border wall and have musicians and poets perform on stages set up along the way but, somehow, I don’t think so…

To read more about what’s been proposed and how it will affect the targeted programs and the products they produce, click over to writer Caroline Elbaor’s recap on the Artnet site – https://news.artnet.com/art-world/trump-proposes-eliminating-national-endowment-arts-893744

That’s all for now – look for updates every week (typically, on a Friday) on our news feed – https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back early next month with another summary for you.

All text Copyright 2017 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.

Album Cover News Recap – April, 2015

Album Cover Hall of Fame’s Album Cover News Recap – April 2015

By Mike Goldstein – Curator/Editor, AlbumCoverHallofFame.com

With Spring finally coming to our readers who’ve suffered through a most-impressive Winter, album art fans are slowly-but-surely emerging from their various states of hibernation and joining like-minded individuals from all over the U.S., U.K. and elsewhere on the globe in search of the latest news about album art and the artists that create it. To that end, I’m sure that you’ll agree that there were a number of interesting headlines we at the ACHOF posted throughout the month of April and that the sheer number of interviews, features and gallery/museum show items found in our news feed (several of which I’ll highlight now with the rest, in greater detail, following the intro paragraphs) continues to amaze and impress.

In the area of interviews, fans had the chance to get into the heads and hearts of talented cover image producers and promoters including  UAE-based DJ and vinyl retailer Shadi Megallaa, designers Carin Goldberg and Steve Keene, photographer Henry Diltz and illustrator Dave McKean,  along with my own interview with this year’s Grammy-winning designer (in the box/special-edition category) Susan Archie and a special Record Store Day interview with this year’s “special ambassador”, Foo Fighter Dave Grohl.

In the ever-expanding fine art book category, publishers were busy promoting their new releases, with monographs featuring art and photos related to musical acts including Pink Floyd, Rush and, for fans of the fantastic art often found gracing the covers of heavy metal music records, Ramon “Oscuro” Martos’s newest book titled And Justice for Art: Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers . For those of us who spent hours custom-packaging our favorite music on cassettes, there’s also a new book on the subject of “mixtape artwork” titled Damn Son Where Did You Find This?: A Book About U.S. Hip-Hop Mixtape Cover Art by authors Tobias Hansson and Michael Thorsby.

It was an exceptionally-busy month for exhibitions and shows built around rock-related imagery, with curators and gallery owners displaying collections that included the works of Raymond Pettibon, Frank Frazetta and photographers Joel Brodsky, Jim Marshall, Jimmy Steinfeldt, Anton Corbijn, Neal Preston, Michael Halsband, Brian Duffy and a group show in NYC featuring several well-known shooters that covered the early rap/hip-hop scene.

Other stories included features on the role of logo art in music marketing, using Google Maps to locate and view the current state of the places where famous album cover photos were taken and one artist/musician (Natalie Sharp) and her ongoing efforts to re-create the cover art of albums she likes on her face using paints and make-up.  News continued with  the announcement of the judging for this year’s D&AD Awards for album cover art/packaging, the premiere of a line of music t-shirts with built-in music downloads as well as several more “best ofs”, “Most Fashionable” and other such “Top 10” lists. The excitement continued with a story about the auction and sale of a cardboard garden gnome that was one of the characters included in the cover collage on The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s LP and another on one artist’s work to re-imagine a number of well-known covers with key characters replaced with comic book super-heroes.  I was also happy to provide an update on Kevin Hosmann’s ongoing efforts to finish up production on his new documentary film that will feature interviews with 50 album cover art producers, record label execs and others who’ve contributed to the growth of the medium (and who will share their opinions on the past and future role that this art has/will play in the marketing of music products. Finally, there was info on how the sale of album art prints can serve to raise money in support of scholarships for the next generation of album cover creative/production talent.

As always, I’m hoping that you were able to take a look at the new interview articles, along with the many new biographies posted on the ACHOF site during the month. I’m still on a quest to update those already there with new information and to add another 50 or so new ones before taking a break to work on a book-related project (more to come on this later). In the meantime, here’s your chance to catch up on news you may have missed while you were forced to do what’s needed to live/work/enjoy yourselves but, as I’ve said many times (almost every month!), regardless of how hectic your lives may be, there’s no reason that you should go without getting yourselves up-to-date info on one of your favorite topics, so you can be sure that we’ll continue to work (nearly) every day (even when it’s beautiful outside and I REALLY want to play hooky) to prove to you that there’s always something new to see and learn in the world of album cover art, and you know that you’ll find it all here on the ACHOF site (keep your eye on our News Feed for the latest updates).

August 30th – 1) A reminder to our friends in the LA area – don’t miss the opportunity to take part in the opening night festivities for the new “A Lad Insane by Brian Duffy” photo exhibition at the recently-relocated Mr. Musichead gallery in Hollywood. The reception takes place Friday, May 1, and begins at 7pm. According to the gallery, there “will be photos from Brian Duffy’s five different photographic shoots with David Bowie. These groundbreaking sessions not only documented Bowie’s career and pioneering reinvention, but illustrate Duffy’s special relationship with him.

(The late photographer’s son) Chris Duffy will be present to talk about his father’s working relationship with David Bowie.  Copies of his book  ‘Duffy Bowie : Five Sessions’  will be available for purchase and signing on the evening. The evening’s co-hosts will be Martin and Mary Samuel. An award-winning hair stylist, Martin worked with Bowie on the set of “The Man Who Fell to Earth”.

For more info, visit the gallery’s site at http://mrmusichead.com/?p=13357

2) The UK’s National Portrait Gallery has just added another album cover image to their collection – Dav Stewart’s photograph for Tempest’s album Everybody Down – and will be including it in an exhibition called “Picture The Poet” that will begin its tour of exhibition spaces on Friday, May 1, at The Collection Museum of Art & Archaeology in Lincolnshire. The Portrait Gallery’s collection also includes Mischa Richter’s photo portrait of Amy Winehouse used on the cover for her 2006 record Back to Black and the Mario Testino shot used on Madonna’s 1998 album Ray of Light. The Guardian (UK) gives us the details in this recent article on their site –

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/apr/27/kate-tempest-album-cover-added-to-national-portrait-gallery-collection

3) As part of the prestigious design publication D&AD‘s annual Judging Week prior to the awarding of their coveted D&AD Awards, the President of the professional group behind the awards – Mark Bonner – has posted an article that gives us the details on several of his personal favorites. Included in the list is an album package for New Zealand alt-rock band Shihad’s latest record, titled FVEY (with artwork done by the Alt Group) which features a VERY cool skull sculpture. The record is available in several different packages, including several limited-edition versions that include a poster of the skull image, and Mr. Bonner is hoping that someone will take the hint and create a collectible version of that skull (watch out, Damien Hirst!). More about this on the Campaign web site – http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/news/1343547/

April 29th – 1) Several years ago, I interviewed several people involved with creating logos for their musical clients and, in nearly every case, these “works for hire” (i.e., projects where they were paid a flat fee, or where they received limited licensing credits) went on to earn their clients millions of dollars via their uses on album covers, merchandise and other related money-makers. While they are just part of an act’s overall identity, great band and label logos can stand alone and, as you’ll see in the linked article written by Tom Hutchins for the Noisey Music By Vice site, have done great things in building tighter relationships between acts/labels and their fans. You’ll also see examples of where things didn’t work out quite as their owners expected… http://noisey.vice.com/blog/the-art-of-the-record-label-logo

2) Blogger Bruce Jenkins – the super-fan that runs the popular Vinyl Connection  site from his base “down under” – has just celebrated the 2nd anniversary of his site’s launch and, as part of the festivities, has introduced a new take on a cover-vs-cover competition that he’s calling the “Cover Art Portrait Playoff”. He’s organized 16 pairs of album covers and is asking fans to pipe in with their “whose better” selections beginning next week. To get folks in the mood today, he’s just posted a nice article on a selection of covers that followed very similar approaches to their covers – in this case, covers that look like they are “ripped from the headlines” – take a look and be sure to check back to cast your votes soon – http://vinylconnection.com.au/2015/04/28/who-wants-yesterdays-papers/

3) Last-minute album art panel discussion announcement as a bonus item related to the ongoing “Pick Me Up” event now running at the Somerset House in London, the folks that run the “Cover Club” series there announced a show Thursday night (April 30) at “The Studio” space featuring graphic designer Ian Anderson, one of the founders of the renowned Designers Republic studio (Warp Records fans know/love his work). Joining Ian on the panel is Kevin King, the music marketing exec that launched the “Secret 7” music/art campaign that has raised lots of money for charities in the U.K. via the sale of specially-produced record cover artwork created by many of the world’s better-known designers. More info on this event is available via the link at https://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/pick-me-up-2015/platform

April 28th –  1) There’s a new entry in the “Sgt. Pepper’s album cover tribute” category, and this one is a doozy! You’ll never guess who did it – that’s right, Who did it (sorry, couldn’t resist)! The cover for the new record titled Doctor Who Symphonic Spectacular (a tour playing in several cities in the U.K. and featuring a host of BBC musicians playing music familiar to the TV series’ fans) takes on the familiar collage motif found in Sir Peter Blake’s original design for The Beatles, with this version featuring a collection of characters seen in the show – Daleks, Cybermen and Weeping Angels included! Not sure who is responsible for the art, but hope to find out. In the meantime, you can take a look at the work reporter Marcus for the Doctor Who News fan-site gives up a look at the image via the link – http://www.doctorwhonews.net/2015/04/symphonic-spectacular-homage-album-over.html

2) The folks at the Mass Appeal web site have taken inspiration from several other sites (including The Guardian) to use the handy Google Maps application to seek out and display the locations where a number of well-known hip-hop album cover photos were taken. I’m quite appreciative of the fact that they also provided readers with a bit more information (and proper credits) on each of the featured images (yes, working people actually did create the original images, thank you!). If you’ve always wanted to see where the covers of albums including Ice Cube’s Ameriikkka’s Most Wanted, Jurassic 5’s Quality Control, MC Lyte’s Eyes On This and Beastie Boys’ Check Your Head (along with another 10 or so) were first photographed, click on over to the article via the link – http://massappeal.com/iconic-hip-hop-albums-in-google-street-view/section/nas—illmatic

3) Vinyl records have always held a special place in the hearts of music fans, but it is rare to find such love and commitment in societies that, under most circumstances, work to keep such examples of Western decadence away from the local populace. In this article on The National‘s site (an English-language publication headquartered in Abu Dhabi), you’ll meet Shadi Megallaa, a DJ, record label and soon-to-be record retailer in the UAE and learn more about his plans to turn his personal collection into a record store that he hopes will appeal to the audio purists he knows in his home town. After moving recently from New York City to Abu Dhabi, this entrepreneur is working hard to make sure that this effort – which will be called “Flipside” (which I love, as it was the name of a popular record chain in the Midwest that I spent many hours in as a youth) – succeeds in spite of both industry forces and the social mores that exist in that part of the world. Let’s all wish him luck – http://www.thenational.ae/arts-lifestyle/music/a-look-at-the-growing-vinyl-record-scene-in-the-uae#full

April 27th – Special Fashion Edition…

1) Whether you believe that album cover art reflects the styles/fashions of the day or, in many cases, helps set those standards, you must admit that there have been many album cover images that are “stylin'”, featuring musical acts such as Grace Jones, Joni Mitchell, Madonna and others who, in addition to being reviewed as musicians, were also always in the headlines for their sense of fashion (good or bad). In this recent article by writer Austen Rosenfeld for the Style.com site, you’ll find 14 examples of memorable record covers that the author considers to be “the most fashionable of all time”. If, after looking at the list, you care to comment or add some examples of your own, I/we would love to see what you think…I’ll start – conspicuous in its absence is the cover for Saturday Night Fever…your turn…
http://www.style.com/culture/entertainment/2015/fashionable-album-covers

2) Just prior to becoming a fashion icon herself (i.e., before Like A Virgin and the film Desperately Seeking Susan), young Madonna Ciccone was another in a long line of struggling musicians/performers trying to make a name for herself in the music business, so when Warner Bros. Records hired freelance designer Carin Goldberg to work with their new one-name act, her first thought was “God, it’s going to be one of those” but, as time would tell, this turned out to be the start of something big. Ms. Goldberg would go on to do covers for a number of other pop/jazz/classical acts, and the photographer, Gary Heery, would shoot covers for acts including Roy Orbison, Paul Simon, Joe Cocker and others, but as you’ll read in this interview by NYMag.com’s Erica Schwiegershausen, this one cover portrait will continue to cement this team’s place in classic album cover history. http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/04/making-of-madonnas-first-album-cover.html

April 24th – 1) The folks on Public Radio’s “here & Now” show have posted a multi-media extravaganza (i.e., an audio interview with a series of photos you’ll reference while you listen to the interview) featuring host Robin Young’s recent conversation with album cover photo great Henry Diltz. The eleven-minute interview includes Mr. Diltz’s recollections about a number of his earlier works, including his escapades with Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Paul & Linda McCartney, Richard Pryor, The Doors and several other legendary performers. Henry went on to launch one of the best-known galleries dedicated to rock photography – the Morrison Hotel outposts – and has always impressed me with the detailed memories he has of his time spent with early rock royalty, so I hope you’ll take a break from your weekend to listen to this (and the nice soundtrack that accompanies it) – http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/04/23/henry-diltz-music-photography

2) New works by artist Raymond Pettibon, well-known for his covers and illustrations for early punk/alt rock pioneers such as Black Flag, Minutemen and Sonic Youth, are the subject of a new exhibition at the Regen Projects gallery in West Los Angeles running now until May 30th. Titled “From my bumbling attempt to write a disastrous musical, these illustrations muyst suffice”, the new show, according to the gallery’s PR, puts on display “a broad spectrum of influences ranging from Southern California surf culture, punk rock aesthetics, baseball, and film noir to popular culture, world history and politics.” Included art works of pen and ink on paper, gouaches and several collages, all done with the artist’s unique perspective on pop culture gloriously on display. I just want a print of the cover he did for Sonic Youth’s Goo but, hey, that’s just the collector in me talking…More on this on the ArtDaily.com web site – http://artdaily.com/news/78110/Exhibition-of-new-work-by-Raymond-Pettibon-opens-at-Regen-Projects-in-Los-Angeles

3) The estate of the late photographer Jim Marshall has teamed with UC-Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism to spearhead and help endow a new fellowship program for students of the craft which, quite rightly, will be called the “Jim Marshall Fellowships In Photography”. There’s an exhibition currently running on campus through the end of May called “The Haight: Love, Rock and Revolution” (accompanied by a photo book by the same name) that includes Marshall’s imagery from that San Francisco neighborhood featuring the stars of that time (late 1960s) and place including The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and others (read more about this show on the school’s info page at http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2015/01/29/love-rock-revolution-exhibit-features-work-of-legendary-music-photographer-jim-marshall/ ), with more of the details about the Fellowship, its funding and ways you can donate to it, available via the link – http://journalism.berkeley.edu/news/2015/feb/02/jim-marshalls-the-haight/

April 23rd –  1) Rock & Roll fine art and photography can do a world of good for more than just the collectors and fans of the art-form…As you’ll read in this recent article on the ETNow web site, proceeds from the sale of art prints featured in photographer Neal Prestons recent exhibition at the Musikmesse industry event (in Frankfurt, Germany) were totaled up and a check for $50,000 was given to the “Behind The Scenes” charity, a group that provides disabled or injured industry professionals with grants to help them better-manage their day-to-day living expense. Preston’s show, titled In the Eye of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hurricane, was done with the support of Lightpower, the German-based distributor of lighting products and put over 60 of his best-known photos of rock royalty (Led Zeppelin, Queen, Bruce Springsteen and many others) up for viewing in a series of super-sized prints.
Read more about this donation at http://www.etnow.com/news/2015/4/lightpower-donates-50-000-to-behind-the-scenes-from-the-neal-preston-rock-n-roll-photo-exhibition
and, to see more of the exhibition, click on over to the Musikmesse site at http://musik.messefrankfurt.com/frankfurt/en/besucher/events/neal-preston.html

2) In Ramon Marcos Garcia’s (AKA Oscuro) recent posting on the Metal Underground site, the author presents a number of album covers that have been based on classic/historical imagery. Fans of art history have long-admired the works of artists from centuries past such as Hieronymus Bosch (the 15th Century Dutch painter best-known for the fantastic “Garden of Earthly Delights”), Jean Delville (the Belgian “Idealist” from the late 1800 – early 1900s) and John Martin (the 19th Century British painter who helped us visualize “Paradise Lost”), so it is fascinating to see works from these and other artists both inspiring today’s album cover illustrators and, in cases like those featured in this article, being “borrowed from” quite freely. You’ll find covers from bands including Morbid Angel, Celtic Frost, Candlemass and others featured in this article, along with the stories about how these historical images found new life on the covers of some of today’s most-progressive musical acts. http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=112500

3) I was browsing through the aisles of the Portland book-selling institution Powell’s when I came across a book that I hadn’t seen previously and, in my ongoing effort to provide album cover art fans with as many resources as possible of information that might help them better-understand the scope of the talent that has produced memorable album art over the years, I wanted to bring this book to your attention.

Published in 1977 by Collier Books and written by the team of Brad Benedict and Linda Barton (both of whom now have credits for scores of books on the arts), Phonographics: Contemporary Album Cover Art & Design is a nice collection of works (over 150 included) of album art produced during the late 60s – early-mid 70s, a period that finds the industry in its “Golden Years”, with regards to the innovations being employed and the importance the recording industry attributed (at the time) to the overall success of recorded music products.

The book’s introduction, though, serves as a painful reminder that, back then, the visuals brought to the packaging of music products were integral parts of their labels’ production/marketing plans, only to have been reduced in importance over the years since this book’s publication – much to the detriment of fans and the talent that worked so hard to deliver such great art and imagery. To those still working on these works today – keep up the good work!

April 22nd –  1) Had a very nice catch-up conversation a few days ago with designer-now-user-experience guru Kevin Hosmann about the status of his labor-of-love project – a documentary film about album cover designers titled “The Album“. Kevin has been working diligently to capture the stories of 50 people who’ve worked in various capacities within the album packaging world – designers, art directors, photographers and other printing/production experts active from 1965 thru today – to chronicle their efforts and. at the same time, the evolution of the music industry.

As a former record cover designer himself, with credits for designs for musical acts including MC Hammer, the Beastie Boys, N.W.A., Tupac, Stone Temple Pilots and others, Kevin is hoping to share his and his former cohorts’ experiences as creatives in an industry that has undergone many changes over the past 20 years, with many of those changes making it difficult for design/visual talent to earn a respectable living (“I need an album cover by tomorrow – here’s $100”). He’s posing a number of questions to his subjects about how they’ve adjusted their approaches to their album art projects and will craft his film from their responses and anecdotes about the people and projects they’ve worked on.

In the meantime, fans can take a look at his rough footage on a Vimeo site he’s set up (https://vimeo.com/user9960212) and, for more info and a nice collection of “back in the day” photos, you can bop on over to his Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Album/1514923212059261
I hope to keep in touch with him as time goes on and eagerly await the time he’s ready to share the film with fans (like me!) of album cover art and artistry.

2) Once again, some brave (or foolish – you decide) soul has published a “Top 10 Best” list of album covers but, in this case, the author (Josh Pellis, writing for the FDRMX.com site) works to provide enough detail to help substantiate his rankings of the “Top 10 Most Artistic Album Covers of All Time” so, whether you agree with him or not, at least you can give him credit for a somewhat-scientific approach to the topic.

The list does include records released over a time period that takes into account many changes in the music world, beginning in the mid-1960s with albums by The Beatles and Hendrix, proceeding thru the 70s, 80s and 90s with records by Pink Floyd, Korn, Dr. Dre and others and including more-recent records by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Calle 13. To read the writer’s complete rundown, click on the link at http://fdrmx.com/top-10-most-artistic-album-covers-of-all-time/ and then let me know what you think…

April 21st –  1) Just finished reading a nicely-done interview with illustrator Dave McKean, a talented guy with many credits in both the book and record cover worlds and the artist behind one of my own personal favorite album covers, that being Fear Factory’s Demanufacture – a classic “man vs. machine” (or is it “man as machine”?) image. McKean has done work for many other metal/hard rock bands as well as supplying covers for books by authors such as Grant Morrison and Neil Gaiman and has always shown how today’s digital imaging tools can be put to good (i.e., artistic) use when assignments call for something “other-worldly”. Read Dan Franklin’s in-depth article on The Quietus web site – http://thequietus.com/articles/17626-dave-mckean-interview

2) In Phil Miller’s recent interview article on The Herald (Scotland) site, artist and writer John Byrne talks about returning to the album cover art world recently to take on an assignment for the 25th anniversary recording for Scottish band Shooglenifty. While he’s mostly spent his time lately writing and taking on the occasional art commission, it’s been a while since he’s done record covers. His past work for The Beatles, Stockholm Syndrome and Gerry Rafferty garned him much praise, so it’s nice to see him at work again in this area –
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/byrne-designs-album-cover-for-folk-band.122978964

3) Next week, seminal rock band Journey will be releasing a new record and, in addition to the new music from this best-selling group, fans will be given the opportunity to purchase a limited-edition, 9-color 36″ x 12″ screen print – signed and numbered by the artist, Mark Englert, for only $60. The band has long been a supporter of great album art, beginning early on with works by Stanley Mouse and Alton Kelley and with several other talented artists following those esteemed names, so it is no wonder that they’re continuing the tradition of offering fine art along with their fine music – click on the link to see the new cover art – pre-orders were to be accepted beginning April 23 – http://store.iam8bit.com/collections/journey/products/journey-limited-edition-print-by-mark-englert

April 20th – Record Store Day follow-up items:

1) Looks as though this year’s RSD was very well-attended world-wide, with over 3,000 indie stores participating, offering specially-produced packages and lots of in-store appearances by musical acts of all types and degrees of popularity. RSD is one of those times where big-name acts come down from their heavenly mounts and mingle with their fans, so you’ll get to see and hear them in some very intimate settings. Quite the treat!

As reported by Shaun Tandon on the ArtDaily web site, the popularity of vinyl continues to grow, brought about by the hand-crafted nature of many of the unique, limited-edition products being offered (you might call them “artisanally-produced music products”) and the depth of information that typically accompanies these packages. Of course, based on the fact that the most-popular vinyl record being sold these days – Abbey Road by The Beatles – you can perhaps correlate it’s sales with the always-in-the-Top-5 rating of its album cover…just sayin’..
http://artdaily.com/news/77984/3-000-independent-stores-have-big-turnout-on-Record-Store-Day-shows-rebirth-of-vinyl

2) About a year ago, I reported on the Record Store Day-related antics of musician Natalie Sharp – AKA “The Lone Taxidermist” – when she released a series of photos of herself sporting face make-up that re-created several well-known album covers (Joy Division, Kraftwerk and others). This year, she’s worked to expand her portfolio of cover-based facepaint, adding covers from Nirvana, Talk Talk, Aphex Twin, Bjork and others (even Mike Oldfield’s classic Tubular Bells!). You can learn a bit more about her ongoing exploits in this Ann Lee-penned article on the MetroUK web site – http://metro.co.uk/2015/04/18/musician-paints-face-to-resemble-famous-album-covers-and-she-looks-awesome-5156220/

April 17th – 1) Every day, I learn a little bit more about the various ways that talented people work to add visuals to their music…In this article by New York Times writer Jon Caramanica about a new book on the subject of mixtape artwork (titled Damn Son Where Did You Find This?: A Book About U.S. Hip-Hop Mixtape Cover Art by authors Tobias Hansson and Michael Thorsby) that features in-depth interview with five graphic artists that have specialized in the field, you’ll learn more about their approaches to the projects they work on and what they do to differentiate their work from what’s typically found on these products. Knowing that they must compete with mainstream products (and the mainstream mindset of many of their clients), they all strive to bring their unique backgrounds and talents to bear when creating some very impressive imagery – http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/16/arts/music/celebrating-the-fast-moving-bug-eyed-wily-world-of-hip-hop-mixtape-covers.html?_r=0

2) Writing for Esquire Magazine, Dan Hyman has posted an interview with artist Steve Keene, the guy responsible for some memorable covers for musical acts such as Apples In Stereo, Silver Jews and, most-notably, Pavement, with this particular article focused on his cover for Pavement’s 1995 record Wowee Zowee (which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its release). For an artist well-known for his enormous output, the interview provides some keen insight into how he approached projects that required a bit more attention in order to please his indie icon clients.

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/music/a34283/steve-keene-pavement-interview/

3) Over the past many years, Todd Rundgren has shown us his many talents as a musician and producer, but with the release of his new record titled Global (and to help promote his world tour in support of his record), Mr. Runt shows off his chops as a visual artist by both creating the cover image for his new album and by sponsoring a contest in which some lucky fans will win their portraits painted by the man himself. To enter the contest, you must show off your own creativity by submitting some evidence – a video, a collection of ticket stubs, pix of your Nazz memorabilia, etc. – that proves that you’re the “Ultimate Todd Rundgren Fan”. You can find all of the details on how to enter in this posting on the GOLDMINE site – http://www.goldminemag.com/features/win-signed-portrait-created-todd-rundgren Good luck!

Bonus Record Store Day posting!

1) My chum Terry at our town’s most-significant temple to all things recorded – Music Millennium – was kind enough to share some info with me about some of the amazing limited-edition special releases that were available starting April 18th, and so I wanted to forward that info on to you with the hopes that you’ll find some time tomorrow to go and see what’s new and exciting and, if so motivated, support your local record retailers at the same time with a purchase or two.

Here’s a link to a handy listing of many of the unique items that are be available (over 500 of them, at this point), with many of them sporting custom covers, colored vinyl and/or bonus items, including posters, art prints, beer cozies, and more!
http://www.recordstoreday.com/SpecialReleases

A quick scan of the list shows me some very cool items including a David Bowie “Changes” picture disc, a Miles Davis 10″ vinyl box set, a vinyl re-release of The Doors’ Strange Days that features a cardboard sleeve/insert made at the same factory that printed the original in 1967 and, to plug a local recording, Blitzen Trapper’s live recording (recorded at the Doug Fir Lounge here in PDX) of their take on Neil Young’s Harvest LP which sports a smartly-done remake of the original cover image as well. I also saw that, at Terry’s store, anyone who buys a copy of the new Best of the Grateful Dead 2-CD set will also take home a limited-edition print of the Skeleton & Roses cover art – just one of the many examples that should motivate us all to make a beeline to the record store this weekend.

2) Foo Fighters front man Dave Grohl is this year’s ambassador for Record Store Day, and he’s pitching in with a special edition 4-song 10″ vinyl record called Songs From The Laundry RoomUSA Today reporter Patrick Ryan has posted an interview with Mr. Grohl in which he spouts off about his love for all things vinyl, sharing info on the first record he ever purchased, time that he spent at record stores growing up and why he thinks that today’s youth has become enamored with vinyl (hint – besides the music, it has something to do with ALBUM COVERS!). Enjoy the entire interview via the link – http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/music/2015/04/15/dave-grohl-foo-fighters-record-store-day-2015/25749947/

April 16th – For those fans of album art from the “heavier” side of the aisle…

1) The fantastic art of Frank Frazetta is featured in a new exhibition that opened April 17 at the Metropolis Gallery in NYC. This is the first such showing of the late artist’s work in the area and is the centerpiece of the gallery’s grand opening activities. Comic book fans have long-known about the gallery’s parent company – Metropolis Collectibles – as the largest vintage comic dealer/auctioneer, so with the opening of this retail gallery and the showing of Frazetta’s work, fans of comics, fantasy fiction and album covers will all have something great to see. The show is in good hands as the gallery’s curator is Rob Pistella, who was Frazetta’s business manager until the artist’s death five years ago. One of the paintings on display will be his iconic “Death Dealer“, an image best-known by classic rock fans for its use on the cover of Molly Hatchet’s 1978 debut album. More details on this show are available on the PR Underground site – http://www.prunderground.com/frazetta-exhibit-at-metropolis-gallery-in-new-york/0056240/

2) Billboard’s Christa Titus gives us a nice overview of the new book by Tampa, FL-based writer Ramon “Oscuro” Martos (well-regarded for his ongoing MetalUnderground.com series about the album art featured on heavy metal music recordings) titled And Justice for Art: Stories About Heavy Metal Album Covers, just released by publisher Dark Canvas/Handshake Inc.. The book includes the stories behind over 50 memorable metal covers and explores the wide range of styles and subject material featured in these images. While blood, fire and decay are prominently featured, there have been some beautifully-disturbing covers as well, so it is nice to be able to better-understand – in the words of the people who produced these works – their underpinnings and back stories. Whatever you might think of the subject material, there’s no denying the artistry often on display…

http://www.billboard.com/articles/columns/rock/6524434/and-justice-for-art-book-metal-albums

April 15th – A pretty interesting day in album cover news, I think…

1) German illustrator Uwe De Witt has two passions – comic book art and music – and it was with great pleasure that I discovered this article on his recent efforts to re-imagine classic album covers, this time substituting comic book heroes and villains for the characters found on the original covers. I think that he’s done a fantastic job in both selecting the covers he wanted to do and then producing the remakes in an entirely believable fashion. In Ben Kaye’s article on the Consequence of Sound (COS) site, you’ll see examples of records for Aerosmith, Gorillaz, Lou Reed, Nikki Minaj and others. I was particularly impressed with his take on the cover for the West Side Story soundtrack, originally by Saul Bass, but now featuring Daredevil! See the rest at http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/04/artist-reimagines-classic-album-covers-with-comic-book-heroes-and-villains/

2) In another story where an artist has been motivated by dual passions (this time, hip-hop music and professional basketball), you’ll find the details of Jesse Nunez’s recent efforts to re-do well-known rap/hip-hop album covers, replacing the original people featured on the cover with images of NBA stars including James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and others. Laker fans will either love or hate what he’s done with putting the (nearly-expired – sorry, Mark) Kobe Bryant on the cover of a memorable Notorious B.I.G. album…see the rest of Nunez’s work on his Behance site – https://www.behance.net/gallery/25007927/Album-Art-Recreated

3) The annual Florida Music Festival in and around Orlando was enhanced by a new exhibition of the work of photographer Jim Leatherman that launched on Thursday, April 16 at the City Arts Factory, running through May 15th. Leatherman’s photos have been featured in many articles, books and several album covers, with a lot of his best-known work chronicling the 1980s indie-rock scene (Sonic Youth, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Archers of Loaf and others), and it was the support from his many fans (via a recent GoFundMe campaign) that provided the incentive for the staging of this show. Ashley Berlanger’s article in the Orlando Weekly gives you the details – http://www.orlandoweekly.com/Blogs/archives/2015/03/06/gritty-stunning-underground-rock-photographer-jim-leatherman-finally-gets-a-gallery-exhibit

April 14th –  1) With all of the attention the media has been giving to Hillary C. lately, it is also important to note the role that women have played in the making of famous album covers and, with the help of Mike McPadden and the crew at VH-1, they’ve made that easier to do by publishing an article titled “True Stories of Women On Classic Album Covers”. The article tells us the stories about some of the women that have been featured on records by a wide range of musical acts, from Bob Dylan to Black Sabbath, Blink-182 to Roxy Music and many others. You’ll find photos and illustrations of girlfriends, models, porn stars, etc. but, surprisingly, not one politician! Learn more about the ladies that have been featured in some of the most-memorable covers in rock ‘n’ roll history via the link – http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/2015-04-06/women-on-classic-rock-album-covers-true-stories/

2) The Trocadero Art Space in Sydney, Australia hosted a show that ran through April 25th in their  Galleries 1&2 (guest-curated by photographer Brendan Lee) called “Turn Up Your Radio” that featured artworks created by musicians. As you know, many musical performers have also displayed their chops as visual artists, and this collection of images – which is accompanied by a playlist also created by the participants – gives visitors a chance to see how 15 of the country’s most-talented (i.e., multi-talented) artists have chosen to express their feelings visually about pop/contemporary culture today. More info is available at http://www.trocaderoartspace.com.au/uncategorized/gallery-12-apr-11-24-turn-up-your-radio-by-guest-curator-brendan-lee/

3) For his 60th birthday, photographer Anton Corbijn received a fine gift – that of an exhibition of his photos of U2, Nirvana, the Rolling Stones and many others that is featured in not one but two museums in The Hague, in Corbijn’s native country of Holland. The retrospectives – titled “Hollands Deep” and “1-2-3-4” – run until June 21 at The Hague Museum of Photography and Gemeentemuseum. While the 1-2-3-4 show is a more-traditional showing of his celebrity photography, Holland’s Deep is unique in that it features photos of Corbijn himself – dressed as some of his favorite musicians, including Elvis, Hendrix, Cobain and others – all taken in his home town of Strijen. You can read more about both shows in this recent ArtDaily article – http://artdaily.com/news/77713/Dutch-master-lensman-Anton-Corbijn-toasts-60-with-new-expos-at-the-Gemeente-Museum-in-The-Hague

April 13th – 1) The works of three well-known photographers who documented the emergence of the rap/hip-hop scene in NYC are featured in a new exhibition now running at the Museum of the City of New York. Titled Hip-Hop Revolution: Photographs by Janette Beckman, Joe Conzo, and Martha Cooper and curated by Sean Corcoran, who produced the exhibition as Curator of Prints & Photographs for the Museum, the show (which runs through September 13th) includes over 80 photos taken between 1977 and 1990 and features images of many of the people that led the way for hip-hop’s birth and ultimate adoption as an integral part of Pop Culture. You’ll find photos of “Afrika Bambaata, Kool Herc, and Cold Crush Brothers, breakers like Rock Steady Crew, and breakout acts such as Run DMC and the Beastie Boys”, among many others. Beckman was also responsible for memorable cover images for The Police, Squeeze and other New Wave artists before “crossing the Pond” to cover the excitement in late 1970s New York City – more about this in this ArtDaily article –
http://artdaily.com/news/77613/Exhibition-presents-historic-early-days-of-hip-hop-culture-and-music

2) Read a fascinating article on the PopMatters site by Elodie A. Roy titled “The Curious Art of Wrapping Music” that takes us through an early history of music product packaging before taking us on a tour of modern approaches to the subject including – which was new to me – a DIY Album Art scene that grew in the U.S. and Europe after the days of punk. The author believes that there’s a section of modern music buyers that will respond very positively to the availability of physical products, particularly those that are packaged attractively. With the rise in popularity of both vinyl records and hand-published “zines” (with some being packaged with CDs of music that accompanies and/or complements the editorial), she presents a compelling argument, don’t you think? http://www.popmatters.com/column/191453-the-curious-art-of-wrapping-music/

3) Finally, in a nice example of an album art creator’s willingness to do just about anything to work with a music industry client to produce a memorable cover image, here’s a link to Ryan Middleton’s story on the Music Times site about photographer Sandy Kim and her recent efforts to work with rapper Young Thug on a cover image for his new release titled Carter 6. He had ideas, she had ideas; she wanted him naked on the cover – guess what he wanted? Follow this through to it’s interesting end via the link at

http://www.musictimes.com/articles/34932/20150408/young-thug-carter-6-cover-photographer-naked.htm

April 10th – 1) Designer/artist James Marsh, well-known for the beautiful and beguiling illustrations for Talk Talk, Steeleye Span and others, has just released a collection of new (and affordable) limited-edition prints in a series that he calls, smartly, “Small Edition Prints”. There are 15 new images in the series, with designs that run the gamut from geometrics and Vasarely-like forms along with Marsh’s well-regarded blends of fantasy and realism. In signed/numbered editions of 10 8″ x 8.5″ prints of each design, collectors can own these for less than $100 each (£62), including postage. To see these new items, along with his other collections, hop on over to his site at http://www.jamesmarsh.com/fine-art/small-edition-prints/

2) If you were anywhere near the Meadowlands Expo Center in New Jersey on Saturday, April 12 at 4pm EST, you had the chance to meet and hear a presentation by one of rock music’s most-respected designers – John Van Hamersveld. Mr. Van Hamersveld – the designer responsible for the covers for Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles, Eat To The Beat by Blondie and Exile On Main Street for the Rolling Stones (among others) was at the East Coast ComicCon and was interviewed by Cliff Galbraith in a session titled “John Van Hamersveld : Album Covers and Posters That Rocked The World”. John’s contributions to rock & roll imagery are truly notable, as is his perhaps best-known “Endless Summer” poster, a must-have for any fan of surfing..Get the details on the convention’s site at http://eastcoastcomicon.com/panels

3) To follow-up an earlier post about upcoming auctions that feature rock music imagery, I would be remiss to leave out one that took place April 18 in Los Angeles that featured an image well-known to Beatles fans – yes, for the right price, you could have become the new owner of the cardboard garden gnome that is standing next to George Harrison on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper’s album! A possession of one of photographer Michael Cooper’s assistants, the Sir Peter Blake-designed gnome stands about 20″ tall and has been signed by all four Beatles. You’ll find this item amongst the many being offered in the ’ Entertainment and Music Memorabilia Signature® Auction hosted by Heritage Auctions in Beverly Hills. Pre-auction online bidding was at around $14,000 at the time I posted this news (with a pre-auction estimate of $25,000), so it was interesting to see what fans were willing to cough up to own the very unique bit of album cover history (see results in the update, below). More on this in writer Jamie Bowmans article on the Liverpool Echo site – http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/showbiz-news/cardboard-garden-gnome-signed-beatles-9013670

Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Album Cover Garden Gnome auction update – some lucky (and, luckily, wealthy) Beatle fan was the winner of a recent auction for this rare bit of Fab Four memorabilia, with the final price paid going well over the pre-auction estimate of approx $16,000 (£11,000). The final price paid – $43,000 (£29,000) – and for that money, the new owner gets a group-signed item designed by leading British Pop artist Sir Peter Blake. I’m hoping that the cardboard cut-out of Edgar Allen Poe comes up for sale at some point but, until then, I’ll just congratulate Mr. or Ms. Anonymous Auction Bidder. Read the rest of the details in Callum Paton’s article on the Daily Mail online site – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3049171/Garden-gnome-featured-Beatles-iconic-Sergeant-Pepper-s-album-cover-sells-29-000.html

April 9th –  1) An album cover “newbie” is responsible for the artwork for The Prodigy’s latest release titled The Day Is My Enemy. When frontman Liam Howlett saw a book by designer Nick McFarlane while touring an art gallery, one look was all it took and Howlett contacted McFarlane at the Auckland, NZ ad agency he works at to ask him to collaborate on the album’s cover image. 166 comps later (!!), the final design was agreed upon and, since its introduction, it’s been getting a lot of attention. The image of a fox looking for shelter in an urban wasteland was so strong that the band staged an event in early April where they projected the cover image on another well-known album cover icon – i.e., the Battersea Power Station in London (featured on Pink Floyd’s Animals) at a promo event there. You can read an interview with the designer in this article on the New Zealand Herald‘s web site – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11426537 and see images of the cover projection event on the NME site via this link – http://www.nme.com/news/the-prodigy/84194

2) Over the weekend  of April 11 & 12, fans of art and music had a unique opportunity to add one of over 700 Grateful Dead-related items to their personal collections from the selections being offered at Donley Auction Service’s “Grateful Dead Family Jubilee Auctions, Parts 1 & 2”. Album and poster art fans were particularly happy to see a number of items offered featuring the works of artists including Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley, Phil Garris and Rick Griffin. With so many items to sell, the auction was divided into two collections, with each day’s catalog packed with items such as:

Saturday, Part 1 – Rick Griffin’s preliminary artwork for the image he created for the band’s 1981 album Reckoning (opening bid $4500 – sold for $4500); a Stanley Mouse oil painting titled “Whiskey Skeleton & Guitar” for a project that was never published (pre-event estimate $25,000 – sold for the bargain price of only $4500) and Phil Garris Blues For Allah and Play Dead prints ($400 opening bid for the pair, which was also the final sale price), plus others…

Sunday, Part 2 – Two Mouse watercolors of the artwork for Workingman’s Dead – one large, one small – with online bids currently at $1100 and $500 (ultimately selling for $1900 and $1200 respectively) and two Griffin AOXOMOXOA prints, including a very rare 1st edition which had an opening bid of $3750, a pre-auction estimate of $8-10,000 and, unfortunately, was left unsold).

Pop on over to the auction’s Proxibid site to see the results of both days worth of fascinating Dead memorabilia – Day 1 – https://www.proxibid.com/asp/Catalog.asp?aid=91369 and Day 2 – https://www.proxibid.com/asp/Catalog.asp?aid=93716

3) Bringing me back to the days of Windows 3.0 (with multi-media extensions) and CD-ROM-based entertainment, there’s a new “interactive video” up to help promote the release of the re-mastered Led Zeppelin catalog that features a clickable Physical Graffiti cover image and the music from an updated version of “Trampled Under Foot” called “Brandy & Coke”. Clicking on each of the windows unveils a media clip – images, animations, videos, etc.. Now, if they only let you walk down the building’s hallways in very slow 3-D fashion, they might have the makings of a new-style “Myst For Boomers” 😉 More on this on Fast Company‘s design site at http://www.fastcodesign.com/3044616/interactive-led-zeppelin-ice-medusa-azealia-banks-the-weeks-best-music-videos

April 8th –  Three for the rock photography fans in the audience:

1) A 30-year retrospective showing (titled “Rock ‘N’ Roll Lens”) of the work of photographer Jimmy Steinfeldt  opened Thursday, April 9th at 7PM with an artist’s reception at the Mr. Musichead gallery in Los Angeles. Steinfeldt’s credits include shots for the album packages for a long list of noted musical acts, including The Replacements, Kim Wilson, Dee Dee Ramone, Vince Neil, LA Guns, Bob Mould and a host of others. His live-action and editorial work has been seen in Rolling Stone, SPIN and other publications, so if you’re in the area and want to see more of the work by one of rock’s better-known shooters, bop on over to this Hollywood institution – more details at http://mrmusichead.com/?p=13384

2) The growing music scene in Manchester, England in the mid-1980s was dominated by the presence of several hot bands including The Fall, New Order and Mr. Morrissey’s band The Smiths, and with the addition of new clubs and a concerted effort to establish the local cultural scene, some folks felt that the city’s uniqueness was being threatened. With a new album – to be titled The Queen Is Dead – ready for release, the band hooked up with photographer Stephen “Steve” Wright in an effort to come up with some imagery that would show “the real Manchester” and, as a result, one of rock’s most-enduring photos was created. Writing for The Quietus site, Mick Middles talks to Mr. Wright about the inspiration and effort behind the making of this well-regarded image – http://thequietus.com/articles/17532-salford-lads-club-the-smiths-photo

3) The career of photographer Michael Halsband, perhaps best-known for his photo of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat looking as though they were ready for some serious boxing, is the subject of a new show that was on display until April 25th at the National Arts Club gallery in NYC. Born, raised and trained in New York, since the 1970s Halsband has been commissioned by publications such as GQ, Interview, Rolling Stone, Vogue and others to provide memorable portraits of celebrities in the worlds of entertainment, politics and fashion, with album cover credits in his portfolio for artists including INXS, Iggy Pop, Klaus Nomi and Northern State. Read more about the artist and the show in this article on the Art Daily site – http://artdaily.com/news/77611/Survey-of-portraiture-by-American-photographer-Michael-Halsband-on-view-at-The-National-Arts-Club

April 7th – 1) Just received updated news on a new album cover art-related product line I reported on last year. Designer Astrella and her husband Jason have released the first group of “Musical T’s” – i.e., deluxe t-shirts featuring licensed designs of your favorite covers that come with an ingenious new bonus – embedded technology called “Activation Tech” that gives buyers exclusive access to related digital downloads! The shirts will first hit the shelves at selected Bloomingdale’s stores in the U.S. in May and, according to an email I received from Jason, the initial releases will include:
Queen – News of the World
The Who – A Quick One
Elton John –The Diving Board
The Spencer Davis Group – Funky
Slightly Stoopid – Best Of
The Vandals – Peace Through Vandalism
Drake Bell – Ready Steady Go
Miles Davis – Blue Moods
John Coltrane – Lush Life
John Lee Hooker – The Country Blues
Thelonious Monk – The Unique Thelonious Monk
If you’d like to learn more about this new line and the people behind it, Matt Hamblins recent article on the ComputerWorld site provides a nice intro – http://www.computerworld.com/article/2905301/musical-ts-combine-album-art-with-a-one-time-download.html
Jason also forwarded a link to an ABC news story about the product from Fashion Week –
http://www.kesq.com/all-star-band-performs-at-fashion-week-el-paseo/31988608
With celebrities from all across the music spectrum – including Matt Sorum, Carmen Rizzo, Tommy Flanagan and NSYNC’s Lance Bass – modeling the shirts, these are bound to find themselves into a lot of rock and roll wardrobes, don’t you think?

2) The nice people from the U.K.’s “Cover Club” asked me to announce that their third installment in their album cover designer interview event series took place at 8pm on Thursday, April 9th at the Ace Hotel in London’s Shoreditch area. The featured guest speaker was designer Lewis Heriz, best-known for his role in (according to their release) “forging the reputation of Soundway Records as one of the most forward-thinking re-issue labels in the world.” A DJ will be on-hand at this free event and will be playing selections from albums that feature Mr. Heriz’s handiwork, including tracks from Drum Talk’s latest.
http://blog.lewisheriz.com/post/113447620077/cover-club9th-april-8pm-ace-hotel-100-shoreditch
Cover Club’s producers also announced that cover designer Ian Anderson – founder of the Designer’s Republic studio and one of the people responsible for the visual aspects of the Warp Records catalog (Cabaret Voltaire, Pop Will Eat Itself, etc.) – would be the featured speaker at a special-edition Cover Club event that took place in late April (as late as May 1) at the Pick Me Up design and illustration festival at London’s famed Somerset House arts & culture center. More info on this as it is made available…

April 6th – 1) Just got a newsletter from the talented team at Storm Studios in which they were promoting a new edition of a book that features more info on the work that the late Mr. Thorgerson and Company had done for one of their best-known clients – Pink Floyd – so I thought that I’d share the details with you. The newest edition of Mind Over Matter: The Images of Pink Floyd is a nearly 300-page book that gives you a very-detailed (and beautifully-illustrated) look behind the scenes of the making of the album covers we all know and love – I’m also impressed with the new cover image they created for the book, featuring FIVE of the famous DSOTM prisms! Published by Omnibus Press, it’s available through all of the major book-sellers – http://www.omnibuspress.com/Product.aspx?ProductId=1105659

2) Almost as well-known to album cover aficionados is the work that artist Hugh Syme has done for Canadian rockers Rush, and so it is with much excitement that I’m pleased to be able to let you know that you can now pre-order your copy of a soon-to-be-released, 272-page coffee table book (with text and interviews by journalist Stephen Humphries) titled The Art of Rush. Working together for 40 years, the band and Mr. Syme have created many a memorable album image, with much of the pre-Photoshop imagery leaving fans amazed and impressed (and other designers asking “how the heck did he do that?”). The reporters at Blabbermouth.net give us a preview on this much-anticipated tome – http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/the-art-of-rush-book-coming-soon/

3) Growing up in Chicago, my radio was pinned to WXRT, so it was with great pleasure that I read a recent article by one of the young staffers “stoking the flames” of classic rock there (Molly Olsem) titled “10 Of The Most Iconic Album Covers & Their Back Stories”. Molly has put together a nice selection of covers old (The Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Warhol’s famous “banana cover” for The Velvets & Nico, for example) and newer (covers for Radiohead, Beck and Wilco are included) and gives us a bit of info about each was made, so let’s support Molly’s efforts to keep her audience in the know about classic cover imagery by clicking on over to her story on the station’s web site at http://wxrt.cbslocal.com/2015/03/26/10-of-the-most-iconic-album-covers-and-their-backstories/

April 3rd – 1) Fans of rock photography had a chance to see (and own) a display of examples of some of the best-known photo images in rock and roll history at the Joel Brodsky exhibition at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in NYC that was on display until April 14th. Although Brodsky passed away in 2007, his widow Valerie has worked hard to produce a series of art prints of some of his best-known works, including what is perhaps his best-known photo – that of The Doors’ lead singer Jim Morrison in what has become known as the “American Poet” pose that was included on the cover for the band’s debut album in 1967. With over 400 album cover images to his name, it is no wonder that writer Chris Sommerfeldt (in an article written recently for the Resource Online site) was impressed when he found himself surrounded by some of the most amazing examples of rock photography ever put on display – http://resourcemagonline.com/2015/03/fire-lower-east-side-joel-brodsky/50200/

2) Designer Paula Scher’s portfolio of well-known album cover images is truly impressive but, with hundreds of covers to her credit, even she admits that there were some projects that were better-done than others. It is surprising to find out, though, that one of rock music’s best-known cover images – that being the fleet of flying guitar-shaped ships found on the illustration Ms. Scher and Roger Huyssen developed for Boston’s debut LP – is, in her opinion, “a mediocre piece of work” (!!). Writing for The Atlantic‘s web site, art/music historian Steven Heller gives us the story about how this work was created and, regardless of its creator’s feelings about it, continues to be (39 years later) an important icon of the band and the era they launched their careers in – http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/03/the-immortality-of-the-more-than-a-feeling-cover/388739/

3) While we in the Western World are typically free to view – and then respond to – the works of art featured on our favorite music recordings, that is not the case in some countries around the world and, in James Gordon’s recent piece written for the U.K.’s Daily Mail site, we’re given a chance to see how the covers for recent releases by some of the most-popular musical acts in the world have been made “more palatable” for consumers in the Middle East and parts of Asia. You’ll find examples of before/after artwork for Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Katy Perry and learn about the efforts by local censors to save the sensitive eyeballs of their local constituents from burning in wherever they go locally to burn – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3011459/Record-companies-censor-sexy-album-covers-sold-Middle-East-not-offend-religious-beliefs.html

April 2nd – Happy to (finally!) be announcing the publication of my newest interview featuring Susan Archie, one of this year’s Grammy winners in the packaging categories. If you haven’t yet seen the product package that Susan and her fellow team members produced for The Rise & Fall Of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27), released by Third Man Records/Revenant Records, “you ain’t seen nothing yet!” This was most-certainly a labor of love for everyone that participated in the project – how else can you explain the amazing details and information you get in the set (which comes packaged in a hand-tooled walnut case!)?

I’d like to thank Susan for her time and patience as we worked together to provide music packaging/cover art fans with a most-compelling tale about an effort to bring collectors a box set unlike any you’ve ever seen – enjoy the story and, if you feel like sharing, please do…

https://albumcoverhalloffame.wordpress.com/2015/04/02/interview-with-susan-archie-2015-grammy-award-winning-designer/

That’s all for now – look for updates every week day on our news feed – https://www.facebook.com/AlbumCoverHallOfFame – we’ll be back next month with another summary for you.