I have been collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover art more seriously since about 1982. Once Ebay started I found research into Warhol’s 1950s cover art easier and in the early part of the 2000s could collect some rare covers quite reasonably. But, I suppose it was in about 2006 or 2007 that I got to know Warhol collector Guy Minnebach, who gave me amazing help to boost my collection.
In around 2007, I had the (not too original) idea of putting on an exhibition of ALL of Andy Warhol’s record covers and it came about in time for what would have been Warhol’s 80th Birthday in 2008. The exhibition, at Piteå Museum, in northern Sweden, wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Jan Wimander and, of course, Guy Minnebach–who lent me several extremely rare covers to photograph for the exhibition and who helped hang the covers. Little did I know at the time that the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was planning a major Warhol retrospective entitled “Warhol Live!” that concentrated on his connection to music and film and included what would have been the first properly curated exhibition of Warhol’s record cover art had we not pipped the Montreal Museum at the post, by opening a couple of months earlier!
Our exhibition included sixty-five covers. The Montreal exhibition showed Paul Maréchal’s wonderful cover collection that included the “Night Beat” box, that neither Guy nor I had seen. In addition, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts launched Paul Maréchal’s book “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers, 1949-1987. Catalogue Raisonné”, the first serious attempt to document Warhol’s record cover art.
The discovery of the “Night Beat” box, together with Guy Minnebach’s earlier discovery of the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” EP showed that there were probably more previously unrecognised Warhol covers out there, and, only a month after our exhibition in Piteå closed, I was tipped off about a cover by the Swedish band RATFAB (Roland and the Flying Albatross Band) that Warhol had drawn in 1984. Since then more covers have been found and motivated an updated version of Paul Maréchal’s catalogue raisonné, this time renamed “Andy Warhol–The Complete Commissioned Record Covers, 1949-1987”.
I have several times in blog posts warned against saying a collection is “complete”–as new items usually turn up immediately one says a collection is complete. So, even with Paul Maréchal’s book!
My list of Warhol covers includes bootlegs and records and CDs released after Warhol’s death in 1987 and today has 248 separate items. 228 of them are currently in my collection, with only five of the twenty omissions that I would call “essential”–the pink version of Prokofiev’s “Alexander Nevsky” (from 1949), the “Night Beat” box (1949 or 1950), the Japanese EP of Mendelsson’s “Scherzo” (with the “Cool Gabriels artwork) , an original “Giant Size $1.57 Each” cover (1963) and the limited edition Keith Richards bootleg LP “Unknown Dreams” (1977).
I have made facsimile editions of the “Night Beat” box, the five versions of the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” cover (with white, red, yellow, green & orange backgrounds) as well as a version of the unreleased “Progressive Piano” EP and 10″ LP and the recently “discovered” “Voices and Events” box. I’m toying with the idea of making a facsimile of the pink “Alexander Nevsky”, which shouldn’t be too difficult, but I don’t have a decent high resolution image for the “Unknown Dreams” album cover to be able to make one of those. So, is this as near completion as I can get?
Warhol cover collectors are constantly on the look out for previously unrecognised records with Andy Warhol’s art on the cover. Warhol Cover Collector Club (WCCC) member Kevin Kinney seems to have an eye for them. He recently reported an 1985 Australian single by a band (improbably) called I’m Talking that reproduced Warhol’s print from around 1962 titled “Marilyn’s Lips”
I’m Talking was formed in Melbourne, Australia in 1983 and had top ten hit singles in Australia with “Trust Me”, “Do You Wanna Be?” and “Holy Word” Their 1986 album, “Bear Witness” made the top 15 in the Australian album charts. The band released ten singles between 1984 and 1986 and the “Bear Witness” LP in 1986 (there was also a compilation album “Dancing”, released in 1988). “Lead the Way”, the band’s third single was released in 1985 as a two-track seven inch and a limited edition three-track twelve inch maxi single, both with the same cover.
While each panel of Warhol’s original has 84 (12 x 7) images, the I’m Talking cover only shows 77 (11 x 7) images, but the cover art is unmistakably based on the left-hand panel of Warhol’s original(note the two sets of lips at bottom right on the cover, that match the botton two lips on the left-hand panel of Warhol’s original.) There is, however, no credit anywhere on the cover or record. I suppose that as the record was only released in Australia and New Zealand, Andy Warhol would not have heard about the use of his image on the cover.
Andy Warhol painted his portrait of Prince Rogers Nelson (June 7, 1958 – April 21, 2016) in 1984 and it appeared in the November issue of Vanity Fair that same year and was used for the cover of Conde Nast’s 2016 memorial magazine “The Genius of Prince”.
Warhol always worked from photographs, usually, though with some famous exceptions, using ones he had taken himself–most commonly with his Polaroid camera.
However, Prince was less than pleased with it, reportedly saying that Warhol’s portrait of MJ (Michael Jackson) was much better!
One photograph that Warhol did not take, however, was the basis for his Flower silkscreens in 1964. He found Patricia Caulfield’s photo of hibiscus flowers in a 1964 issue of the magazine Modern Photography and appropriated it.
Two years later Caulfield sued Warhol for infringement of copyright and in a settlement, Warhol offered her two sets of the Flowers prints; an offer Caulfield refused preferring a cash settlement.
In 1981, photographer Lynn Goldsmith had taken a publicity photo of Prince. Warhol’s portrait image looks suspiciously like it is copied from Goldsmith’s photograph and Goldsmith tried to achieve a settlement with the Warhol Foundation for the use of the image. However, the Warhol Foundation, in a preemptive move, decided to sue Goldmith to prevent her from taking legal action against it.
It seems that fair use laws in the U.S. mean that an artist may use other artists work as the basis for their own work and that Warhol’s art is protected under these laws. It seems that Lynn Goldsmith will not benefit from Warhol’s possible use of her original photograph.
Thirty years have passed since Andy Warhol died on 22nd February 1987 after what newspapers called “a routine gallbladder operation”. The upcoming anniversary stimulated retired surgeon Dr. John Ryan, of Seattle, WA, to research the circumstances of Warhol’s death, which he presented on the 19th February 2017 at the annual meeting of the Pacific Coast Surgical Association. Dr. Ryan’s findings suggest that the operation was far from “routine”.
Warhol was pathologically afraid of hospitals and wanted to avoid being admitted to hospital or being subjected to any operation. He had a personal physician, a Dr. Denton S. Cox who looked after him for many years. Warhol had symptoms of gallbladder disease for at least fifteen years prior to being admitted to the New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center on 20th February 1987. He had increased symptoms in the weeks or months before his admission and had barely eaten in the month before seeing renowned surgeon Dr. Bjorn Thorbjarnarson on 17th February. Warhol reportedly said to Dr. Thorbjarnarson “I will make you a rich man if you don’t operate on me.” At the time Warhol who was 5′ 11″ (about 180 cm) tall, weighed 128 lbs (58.2 kg). He was also anaemic and dehydrated.
So, why was the cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal) not “routine”? On 3rd June 1968 Warhol was shot in the chest by playwright and actress Valerie Solanas (1936-1988) who had loaned Warhol a copy of the manuscript to her play “Up Your Ass”, asking Warhol’s opinion of the play. When in May 1968 she asked for the manuscript to be returned, Warhol told her he had lost it. Solanas borrowed $50 and used the money to buy a 32 calibre handgun. She returned to The Factory early on the morning of June 3rd, and was met by Morrissey who asked her what she wanted. She said she wanted to see Warhol, but was told that he would not be at the Factory that day. However, Solanas would not leave, but hung about and eventually Warhol arrived and they got into the lift together. Once inside the Factory, at about 2.00 p.m. Warhol received a telephone call and while on the phone, Solanas fired three shots at him. The first two shots missed, but the third hit Warhol in the chest, puncturing both lungs, his spleen, stomach, liver, and oesophagus. She then turned the gun on art critic Mario Amaya shooting him in the hip and then tried to shoot Warhol’s manager, Fred Hughes, but luckily the gun jammed.
Warhol was seriously injured and taken to the Columbus-Mother Cabrini Hospital where he arrived pulseless. Warhol was pronounced clinically dead at 4.15 p.m. Vascular surgeon Giuseppe Rossi (1928-2016), who had considerable experience in operating on victims of gunshot wounds, was on duty.
Dr. Rossi found what he thought was a homeless old man, pale and without circulation and started heroic resuscitation. He opened Warhol’s chest and performed open heart massage while transfusing him with 12 units of blood. He then operated for five hours to repair Warhol’s internal injuries, removing the lower lobe of Warhol’s right lung and his spleen in the process. Miraculously, Warhol recovered, but was marked by the event, developing an incisional hernia which forced him to wear a corset for the rest of his life. It is said he also had a constantly weeping abdominal sore. Richard Avedon took a famous photo of Warhol the following year and Robert Levin took a much less well-known photo of him in May 1981, showing him wearing his hernia corset.
Richard Avedon’s 1968 photo of Warhol’s scarred torso.
Photo of Warhol taken by Robert Levin in May of 1981.
Three days after the appointment, Warhol finally allowed himself to be admitted to the New York Hospital and Dr. Thorbjarnarson performed the cholecystectomy on the morning of 21st February 1987. At operation, Warhol’s gallbladder was found to “be gangrenous” and fell apart as it was being removed. Dr. Thorbjarnarson decided also to repair Warhol’s hernia at the same time. Despite the complicated procedure, Warhol recovered well. He spent three hours in the recovery room before returning to his private room where he was in good spirits and in the ecening watched television and at 9.30 p.m. phoned his housekeepers. His nurse, Ms. Min Chou, checked on him at 0400 h on the 22nd February and saw all was well, but at 0545 she found him “blue and unresponsive” and stared “respiratory manoeuvres” and called the hospital’s cardiac arrest team. Despite resuscitation efforts Warhol was pronounced dead at 0631 h.
A post mortem examination was performed and found Warhol to weigh 150 lbs (68.2 kg), significantly more than when he entered the hospital. His lungs were filled with fluid and his trachea was filled with pink, frothy fluid, signifying pulmonary oedema. The cause of death was ascribed to “ventricular fibrillation”. However, Warhol’s death certificate, registered by his brother John Warhola, on 26th February stated simply “pending further study.
At autopsy the cause of death was said to be due to “ventricular fibrillation”. Warhol’s lungs were found to be filled with fluid and his trachea brimmed with a pinkish fluid, signifying fluid overload. It was later said he died of a heart attack secondary to the stress of the operation and fluid overload.
An inquiry into Warhol’s death was held in April 1987 and concluded that his care was unsatisfactory. Warhol had not been properly examined or adequate tests taken before he was operated on. The inquiry found no fault in the surgery.
In 1991, Warhol’s estate (his two brothers and the Warhol Foundation) sued the hospital for lack of care and after a settlement were awarded a sum assumed to be $3 million.
Dr. Guiseppe Rossi knew nothing about Andy Warhol or about Pop Art. Warhol rewarded him with several prints and a complete folio of Soup Cans II. Dr. Rossi didn’t know what to do with them and they were stored under his bed for decades. Since Dr. Rossi’s death in 2016, his family decided to sell the prints and Christies will be auctioning them on 24th-25th October 2017. Warhol also sent Dr. Rossi a cheque for $1000, which bounced
and was returned to Dr. Rossi, who had it framed and hung it on his wall.
Robert del Naja, a.k.a 3D, is a musician, artist and composer probably best known as being a founder member of the trip hop group Massive Attack. He has also other musical projects. del Naja was born in Bristol in 1965 and has been credited as the the city’s first graffiti artist and Banksy has named him as a major influence–it can be noted that suggestions have been made that del Naja IS Banksy! A real fact about him is that he is colour blind. Something that caused him problems in his early works–painting a self-portrait with green hair and brown Christmas trees.
I really liked the deceptively simple cover art for Massive Attack’s “Mezzanine” album, with its stag beetle image. Otherwise I had not paid particular attention to the group’s cover art. I was completely unaware that del Naja had a separate career as a record cover artist. He admits to have been designing covers for Mo’ Wax records for eight years–I once owned the 1994 Mo Wax vinyl samplers “Headz 1” and “Headz 2” with cover paintings by del Naja, though I then had no idea who he was.
Mo Wax 1996 compilation Headz 2A, with cover art by Robert del Naja.
Mo Wax 1996 compilation Headz 2, with cover art by Robert del Naja.
Just recently, The Vinyl Factory published “3D & the Art of Massive Attack” by Robert del Naja and Sean Bidder–a 400 page book of Robert del Naja’s art. There are two versions, a popular edition selling for £50 or a limited edition of 350 signed copies selling for £350. I have the popular edition, which came sealed in cellophane with the Vinyl Factory sticker with bar cove on the outside. The book only contains pictures of del Naja’s artworks with no text apart from a three page interview in a separate 12-page booklet included in the package. Reviews of the book state that Banksy has written the book’s introduction, but I couldn’t find it in my copy–perhaps that’s only included in the limited edition…
I was fascinated to find out that Robert del Naja has cooperated with photographer Nick Knight to produce record cover art. The “Mezzanine” cover is one example.
Del Naja again approached Nick Knight for the cover photo for Massive Attack’s “best of” compilation “Collected”.
Nick Knight’s most famous cover photographs are probably David Bowie’s “Aladdin Sane” cover, Björk’s 1997 “Homogenic” or Nick Cave & The Bad Seed’s “The Boatman’s Call” covers, but he has also photographed Miguel Bosé (see a previous recordart post for another Miguel Bosé album) for the cover of his 1987 album “XXX” among many others.
I was disappointed with the book at first, but it lead me to start looking for more examples of Robert del Naja’s record covers and that has proved to be an interesting journey. I will have to try to contain my interest and NOT start collecting his covers.
I have an almost complete collection of records and CDs with cover art by the enigmatic Banksy. I started collecting Banksy cover in 2008, when prices were usually very reasonable–with many records costing as little as £6.99. A few rarer items cost up to £100. The only exceptions were the two covers ostensibly sprayed by Banksy himself. These are the 1999 12″ promotional single “Four (4 x 3)” by the Capoiera Twins and the promotional double LP “Melody A.M.” by Röyksopp. In July 2010 I was contacted by a DJ who was getting married and offered me his copy of the Röyksopp album, which I, naturally, snapped up. By 2016 I had almost all the records and CDs with Banksy cover art with the exception of the original Paris Hilton CD (the one with the sticker on the outside of the front of the jewel case), and the Capoeira Twins 12″.
When, in April 2016, I was invited to show my collection in the major Banksy retrospective “War, Capitalism & Liberty” at Rome’s Palazzo Cipolla, these missing covers irked me. I had made a limited edition copy of the Capoiera Twins cover–almost indistinguishable from the real thing–and that would fill one of the gaps. Suddenly two copies of the first pressing of the Paris Hilton CD appeared on Ebay and I was lucky enough to get one in time for it to travel to Rome with the rest of my collection.
I have been looking for a copy of the Capoiera Twins’ 12″ ever since I first heard about it in 2008 without success. I missed a couple of copies early on, but then no further copies seemed to turn up other than in art galleries at inflated prices, until August 2017.
The stencil used for the cover art was also used on a wall in Bristol–I presume after it had been used for the record covers–at Portland Square (post code BS2 8SA).
According to a seller of a copy of the record, Banksy gave 25 copies of the white label promotional record to friends and supporters, while the remaining 75 copies were sent to DJs and reviewers with no indication of the band name or the record title on the cover or record but with an A4 letter that Blowpop asked to be returned a couple of weeks prior to the release date. The record was a trip hop single that failed to garner much attention when it came out. I suppose the DJs who received copies played them a couple of times and filed them away or–as was common in the nineties and early 00s–sold them to secondhand record shops (one owner owned up to selling his copy in the early 2000s £1,99), or simply chucked them away. And–had it not been for the Banksy cover–would probably never have been heard of again.
A couple came up for sale on Ebay in around 2008 and, if I remember correctly, sold for £400-600. In the last couple of years the prices of vinyl records with Banksy art covers has increased dramatically and suddenly four or five copies of the Capoeira Twins “4 x 3” have been auctioned off for amazing prices of £5000-6000! Another sold in October for a bargain £4223.23. A further two copies appeared in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in November and I snatched one of them, the other selling for £6,500.
There is another hand sprayed Banksy cover that has also increased dramatically in price recently. I refer to Röyksopp’s “Melody A.M.” promotional double LP.
Just as I was about to buy my copy of the Capoiera Twins record, a new record with Bnaksy art appeared. This was another white label 12″ single “Funk tha Police” by a band called Boys in Blue that had Banksy’s “Rude Copper” as its cover art. This is said to be a limited edition of 100 copies, so I duly invested.
Thus, as of November 2017, my collection of records and CDs with Banksy art is complete. I’ll have to keep watch for newer covers, of course, but it feels like my job is done here.
It has been an intensive few months on my Warhol front. I have added almost a dozen titles to my collection.
It started in July, when I finally managed to find an original copy of Aretha Franklin’s 1986 CD “Aretha”. This was the only CD with Andy Warhol’s art released in his lifetime, The CD was reissued with extra tracks as a double CD in 2014, but I wanted an original 1986 copy. They seem to be quite rare and it has taken me a long time to find one though it didn’t turn out to be too expensive.
The next records I found were by Diana Ross. First a rather battered copy of her 1983 single “Who / Anywhere You Run to” and a poster cover copy of “So Close / Fool for Your Love”, which was way more expensive than I really wanted to pay.
Diana Ross “So Close” poster sleeve cover.
Then I found a copy of Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops’ “Latin Rhythms by the Boston Pops”, which I got reasonably cheap. I already had a nice copy that with the “A High Fidelity Recording” text below the RCA logo at top right. The copy I now got hold of didn’t have that text, but instead a gold sticker with the same text. My guess is that this was an earlier printing.
Then I was pleased to find a reasonably priced copy of the original Skyline bootleg album on the Four Stars label that I wrote about in a previous blog post.
Next up was an Austrian bootleg of The Rolling Stones “Sticky Fingers” album with alternate takes and that used the photo of the Stones that had previously been used on the 1971 “Brown Sugar / Bitch / Let It Rock” EP and again on the numbered RSD reissue in 2011.
I was in London for a few days in August and popped into HMV on Oxford Street where I found two copies of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” 50th anniversary edition, with a large black label on the shrink wrapper on the rear of the cover covering Eric Emerson’s “torso” emulating the sticker used to cover his photo on the original 1967 release. I bought two copies in the hope that they might be the limited pink vinyl edition. Needless to say, they weren’t! However, I did manage to find a pink vinyl copy not long after. Apparently these were made in America in a limited edition of 1000 copies. The copies I bought at HMV were both pressed in Europe.
“Velvet Underground & Nico” 50th anniversary version with sticker over Eric Emerson’s “torso”.
There are loads of interesting bootlegs with Andy Warhol art. I have been looking for a couple for quite some time. I have already mentioned the Skyline album with Warhol’s photo of Suzanne de Maria on the cover, another was another The Rolling Stones bootleg called “Live in Laxington” [sic] — a live recording from the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, recorded on 29th June 1978. The front cover is a typical bootleg cover picture, but the rear cover shows one of Warhol’s “biting” photos from 1975. This version has a green spatter vinyl. There is another black vinyl version with a plain cover á la Beggars Banquet.
The front cover of “Live in Laxington”.
The much more interesting rear cover of “Live in Laxington”.
The purchase that has given me the greatest thrill arrived at the end of September. I knew that there was a limited edition promotional folder of Miguel Bosé’s 1983 album “Made in Spain”. I had never seen one for sale until a copy appeared on Ebay in mid September. I put in a bid was was outbid. “Oh, Well…” I thought. It wasn’t meant to be. However, the following day I received a “second chance” as the high bidder couldn’t afford his final bid. So I got the set. The folder should contain white label versions of the full “Made in Spain” LP, a promo 12″ single “Fuego / Panama Connection” and a single-sided, white label 7″ single “Fuego” and an A4 booklet with a fold-out version of Warhol’s Bosé portraits. When the folder arrived, the singles were missing. The seller had another copy that also lacked the singles and couldn’t help provide them. But Discogs had a single copy of the white label 12″, which I snapped up and several copies of the single-sided, white label 7″ single, so that was easy to get and a little over a week later my foleder was complete with the LP, 12″ and 7″ and the booklet. What a great (and rare) addition to my collection. I laid out my /several) copies of “Made in Spain”, the Fuego 12″ and made a composite of Warhol’s Bosé portraits!
The “Made In Spain” promotional folder.
The “Made In Spain” promotional folder showing the “Made In Spain” LP, the white label 12″ and 7″ Fuego singles.”
The complete set, including the booklet, which contains a fold-out poster of Warhol’s Bosé portraits.
Another cover appeared on Ebay that was a pastiche of the “Velvet Underground & Nico” cover with a banana-shaped chocolate ice cream with “Peel Slowly and See” beside it. Peel the chocolate off to reveal the naked banana. The record is a 12″, three-track single “Family” by the Cru-el Grand Orchestra — a 1999 Japanese recording, whose cover was designed by Ukawa Naohiro (Mom’n’DaD Productions 222). Even the rear cover had a photo that I recognise from a record cover, but can’t place — perhaps a reader can help identify it.
The Cru-el Grand Orchestra’s 12″ single “Family” with its obviously Warhol-inspired banana ice lolly.
The rear cover of the Cru-el Grand Orchestra’s 12″ single “Family”. Another cover pastiche?
There are several other coloured vinyl versions of “The Velvet Underground & Nico”, yellow, red and blue vinyl plus the Newbury Comics yellow/black vinyl. Now that I have the pink copy, do I have to get hold of the other colours too?