John Lennon’s Records and Compact Discs with Andy Warhol Art

john Lennon’s 1986 album “Menlove Ave” is probably the best known of his recordings that use Andy Warhol’s art. But there are some others and one, in particular, that has not previously been recognized.

John and Yoko Lennon and Andy Warhol were friends. I’m sure they basked in each others’ glory. Andy Warhol took Polaroid photos of John and two of these were recently auctioned at Christies (https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/pop-culture/john-lennon-97/3106/).

Andy Warhol's Polaroid pictures of John Lennon. Circa 1969.
Andy Warhol’s Polaroid pictures of John Lennon. Circa 1969.

The photo on the left bears a striking resemblance to the cover photo on Lennon’s album “Imagine”, released on 5th September, 1971. Only the position of the cloud is different.

John Lennon's "Imagine" LP cover.
John Lennon’s “Imagine” LP cover.

There may be an explanation for this, however. Photographer Iain Macmillan was a good friend of the Lennons. He had been introduced to John by Yoko at her 1966 exhibition at the Indica Gallery in London, where she first met John. Macmillan was commissioned to take the cover photo for The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album and had take portrait photographs of John as well. It was he, apparently, that placed the cloud on the cover of the Plastic Ono Band’s “Live Peace in Toronto” 1969 album.

"Live Peace in Toronto" cover art.
“Live Peace in Toronto” cover art.

The cover design of Lennon’s “Imagine” album is credited to Yoko Ono but Wikipedia’s article on the album credits the cover photo to Andy Warhol. Thus this album is a previously unrecognized Andy Warhol cover appearing only five months after Warhol’s cover design for The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” LP. Several singles bear the same cover photo including Lennon’s “Jealous Guy”/”Going Down on Love” and versions of “Imagine”.

Macmillan’s Lennon portraits turned up first on Lennon’s posthumous “Menlove Ave” LP compiled by Yoko Ono and released in 1986. According to the story I have heard, Yoko approached Warhol with Macmillan’s Lennon photographs and asked him to paint two portraits for use on the album cover.

"Menlove Ave" LP front and rear art.
“Menlove Ave” LP front and rear art.

These portraits would reappear when Q magazine with the May 2005 edition which contained two CDs of John Lennon’s songs covered by other artists including Madonna, Oasis, Paul Weller, Wilco and Badly Drawn Boy, amongst others.

John Lennon Covered #1 and #2.
The Front covers of Q Magazine’s CDs “John Lennon Covered #1 and #2.”
Andy Warhol's two portraits of John Lennon.
Andy Warhol’s two portraits of John Lennon.

There are other pressings that use Warhol’s Polaroid photos, including a 12-inch maxi and the 1971 Japanese “Imagine/It’s so Hard” 7-inch single.

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Andy Warhol on Compact Disc – Art & Portraits

The compact disc (CD) was developed jointly by by Philips and SONY and introduced in 1982, five years before Andy Warhol’s death in February 1987 following a gallbladder operation. As far as I can ascertain the only CD that used Warhol’s art that was released during his lifetime is the 1986 Aretha Franklin album “Aretha“. I have twenty-two of the 33 catalogued CDs in my collection that have cover art or portraits by/of Andy Warhol. The table lists all these that I have found.

CDs with Andy Warhol Art 1986-2009.
CDs with Andy Warhol Art 1986-2009.

The compact discs:

Aretha Franklin‘s “Aretha” album released in 1986, was simultaneously released on LP, cassette and CD. Many older albums with Warhol art were later re-issued on CD. But I have not included re-issues in this list – thus no Velvet Underground & Nico or any of the Blue Note albums with Warhol art.

in 1988 Tobias Picker’s “Keys to the City” coupled with Marc Blitzstein’s “Piano Concerto”, was first released, on the CRI label. The booklet featured Warhol’s “Brooklyn Bridge” poster design on the cover (left). Warhol had created this print to celebrate the Bridge’s centenary in 1983. The CD was was re-issued in the 1990s with a modified cover (right).

Picker/Blitzstein: The original CD release (left) and the re-issue cover (right)
Picker/Blitzstein: The original CD release (left) and the re-issue cover (right)

In 1990 John Cale and Lou Reed released “Songs for Drella”, their tribute to Andy Warhol. “Drella” was Warhol superstar Ondine’s nickname for Warhol – a contraction of Dracula and Cinderella – used by people at The Factory but apparently not appreciated by Warhol himself. The “self portrait” on the cover was taken by Billy Name. There was also a  limited edition CD in a velvety Digipak version that only had the album title of the front cover together with Cale’s and Reed’s names.

“Songs for Drella” CD with a Warhol self-portrait visible behind Lou Reed and John Cale.

Russell Means, a famous native American activist, released “Electric Warrior” in 1993. The portrait on the booklet was taken from Warhol’s “The American Indian” series, originally published in 1976. Other portraits of Means from the series can be seen at http://www.skarstedt.com/exhibitions/2012-10-10_andy-warhol/.

Russell Means'
Russell Means’ “Electric Warrior” CD with Warhol’s 1976 portrait.

The Warhol Museum opened the following year and a book and CD were published to commemorate its inauguration. The CD of Andy Warhol interviews “Warhol From Tapes” had a detail from “Flowers” printed on the CD. The book had the compact disc attached to the front cover, but there are also CDs in standard jewel cases.

The Warhol Museums 1994 inaugural book with CD.
The Warhol Museums 1994 inaugural book with CD.

In 1972, Paul Anka had commissioned Warhol to paint a series of portraits of him. Warhol delivered these in person to Anka, who was, at that time, appearing in Las Vegas. Anka used two of the portraits on his 1976 LP “The Painter” and in 1996 released a compact disc album of duets entitled “Amigos”. This was a Spanish language release with Anka duetting with such artists as Ricky Martin, Julio Iglesias and others, including his daughter Anthea Anka. Two compact disc singles were released from this album; a promotional single of “Diana” featuring Paul Anka and Ricky Martin and a standard CD single of “Yo te amo”, which Anka sings together with Anthea.

Paul Anka
Paul Anka “Amigos” (left), “Diana” (middle) and “Yo te amo” (right).

The soundtrack to the film “I Shot Andy Warhol”, released in 1996, starred Lili Taylor, Stephen Dorff and Jared Harris. The soundtrack was a compilation of various artists tracks.The choice of artists on this CD was eclectic. There was a track from The Lovin’ Spoonful, and others from R.E.M., Luna, The MC5 (“Kick Out the Jams” – one of my favourites), Love and a specially composed “I Shot Andy Warhol Suite” by John Cale.

The soundtrack album
The soundtrack album “I Shot Andy Warhol”.

The next classical CD, released the same year as “I Shot Andy Warhol”, was a promotional double CD entitled “Concert of Concerts, Opus 2″ released by NTT Data in Japan of works by Mozart and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. The cover and the discs themselves all featured a drawing from Warhol’s sketches from his portfolio “Play Book for S Bruce from 2:30 to 4:00″ given to Stephen Bruce joint owner of New York’s Serendipity 3 restaurant.

NTT-Data
NTT-Data “Concert of Concerts, Opus 2″ CD cover.

In 1997, Catalyst records released “Music for Merce” by The EOS Ensemble, conducted by Jonathan Sheffer, that used Warhol’s photographs of dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham on the booklet.

“Music for Merce” the 1997 CD.

The next classical CD to appear was Karl-Aage Rasmussen’s 1998 “Three Friends”, which featured a detail from Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Annunciation” from Warhol’s “Details of Renaissance Paintings” prints from 1984. Another detail from another print from this series would appear on a CD cover in 2006.

Detail from Leonardo da Vinci's
Detail from Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Annunciation” on Rasmussen’s “Three Friends” CD.

The band Hopewell released its first album entitled “Contact” in 1998 with a cover picture of the Empire State Building from Warhol’s 1964 film of the building. The silent film lasts 8 hours and 5 minutes and was shot from the 41st floor of the Rockefeller Center.

Hopewell's first album
Hopewell’s first album “Contact” used a still from Warhol’s film “The Empire State Building”.

John Cale released “Eat/Kiss –

John Cale's
John Cale’s “Eat/Kiss – Music From the Films of Andy Warhol” featuring a still from “Kiss”.

Music From the Films of Andy Warhol” in 1999, which features a still from Warhol’s film “Kiss” on the booklet’s cover.

In 2000, the Museum of Modern Art released a CD entitled “Open Ends – Musical Exploration in New York 1966-2000″. This is a compilation of various artists including The Velvet Underground, Yoko Ono, Sonic Youth, Yo La Tengo and The Fugs. The cover showed four colour variations of Warhol’s self portrait from 1966 – a work that resides in the Museum of Modern Art.

The booklet from
The booklet from “Open Ends: Musical Exploration in New York 1960-2000″. Released by the Museum of Modern Art.

A rather strange compact disc entitled “Andy Warhol – Amerykansi Mit” appeared in Poland in 2002. This is a twelve track CD with the majority of tracks by members of The Velvet underground, but also including tracks by Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, The Animals and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Various Artists CD
Various Artists CD “Andy Warhol – Amerykanski Mit”.

Two further compact discs were released in 2002 with Warhol art. “Andy Warhol – Uh, Yes, Uh, No” – a recording of Warhol quotes, and “Pop Art – Underground Sounds From the Warhol Era” another compilation of tracks by thirteen artists including (of course) Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Roky Erikson, Debbie Harry, John Cale and Jackson Browne. The cover was one of Warhol’s 1984 self portraits.

Andy Warhol:
Andy Warhol: “Uh Yes Uh No” CD.
“Pop Art – Underground Sounds From the Warhol Era” compilation CD.

Another strange compact disc entitled “Warholes Or All Andy Would Enjoy (and Fear) / Warhol Memory Disorder” by Lengow & HEveRMEarS / Otomo Yoshide & Sachiko M with DJ Mao and Peter Skala used Warhol’s Cow wallpaper with added bullet holes as its cover image. I don’t have this CD and have no idea what tracks it contains.

Lengow & HEveRMEarS / Otomo Yoshide & Sachiko M with DJ Mao and Peter Skala's CD from 2003.
Lengow & HEveRMEarS / Otomo Yoshide &
Sachiko M with DJ Mao and Peter Skala’s CD from 2003.

In 1993 David Jones (no, not the David Bowie David Jones) and Bill Shute released a cassette of “traditional songs for all ages”, with simple cover art, entitled “Widdecombe Fair“. The album was re-released in 2003 with new cover art.

The 1993 cover art for
The 1993 cover art for”Widdecombe Fair” (left) and the 2003 cover (right).

In 2004 another various artists CD by Cultura and entitled “Andy Warhol by Cultura” was released in Italy. This Digipak double CD included a booklet with several Warhol artworks, the use of which had been sanctioned by The Warhol Foundation.

Cultura compact disc.
Cultura compact disc.

A bootleg compact disc with early Velvet Underground tracks, recorded between January and April 1966 was released in Japan in 2005. The CD was called “The Velvet Underground at the Factory – Warhol Tapes”.

The Velvet Underground at the Factory - Warhol Tapes
The Velvet Underground at the Factory – Warhol Tapes” CD.

The British music magazine Q released two CDs of covers of the music of John Lennon. These were cleverly titled “John Lennon Covered #1” and “John Lennon Covered #2“. Each 14-track CD included tracks by Oasis, Madonna, Paul Weller, Stereophonics and others.

John Lennon Covered #1 and #2.
John Lennon Covered #1 and #2.

Three compact discs featuring Warhol art were released in 2006. “The Mystery of Do-Re-Mi” a recording by the baritone Christopher Grabbitas accompanied on the lute by David Miller used a detail from another of Warhol’s “Details of Renaissance Paintings” series, This time using Sandro Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus“.

“The Mystery of Do-Re-Mi” with a detail of Warhol’s version of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.

A second CD from 2006 was Brian Keene’s “Andy Warhol – A Documentary” which contained a specially composed soundtrack.

Brian Keene's
Brian Keene’s “Andy Warhol – A Documentary” CD featuring one of Warhol’s 1984 self portraits.

Several CDs have appeared in Germany on Warhol’s life and works. The first, a tranlation of Andy Warhol’s diaries was released under the title “Andy Warhol – Das Tagebuch” in 2006.

“Andy Warhol – Das Tagebuch”

While on the subject of Warhol’s life, Deutsche Grammophon released a series of CDs with programmes of biographies of famous people, one of whom was Andy Warhol. Stephana Sabin compiled the biography, which is in German.

Stephana Sabin's biography of Andy Warhol.
Stephana Sabin’s biography of Andy Warhol.

The French music magazine Les Inrockuptibles released a compilation compact disc entitled “Le New York d’Andy Warhol” in 2007. The CD featured tracks by Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Television and others. The cover picture was David McCabe‘s photo of Andy with Edie Sedgwick taken in 1964 just after the release of Warhol’s film “The Empire State Building”.

Les Inrockuptibles CD
Les Inrockuptibles CD “Le New York d’Andy Warhol”.

And in 2008 another German CD biography of Warhol appeared, this time written by Annette Spohn and called “Andy Warhol – Leben, Werk, Wirkung”.

Annette Spohn's Warhol biography in German.
Annette Spohn’s Warhol biography in German.

The Art Gallery of Ontario presented an exhibition of Warhol art entitled “Stars, Death and Disasters, 1962-1964″ in 2008. The exhibition was co-curated by film director David Cronenberg and the gallery released a CD of Cronenberg’s discussions of the exhibition. The CD was entitled “Cronenberg on Warhol” and featured two images of “Double Elvis on front and rear covers.

The Art Gallery of Ontario's CD
The Art Gallery of Ontario’s CD “Cronenberg on Warhol”.

In 2008 a re-issue of an old bootleg appeared on CD with a new cover. The Velvet Underground‘s “Psychedelic Sounds From the Gymnasium” is a concert recording from April 30th 1967. This album was originally released on vinyl in 2008 and this re-issue has a Warhol cover supplied by The Warhol Foundation.

“The Velvet Underground at the Gyymnasium” – a bootleg CD.

The final  compact discs on my list are credited to MPHO (Mpho Skeef, a South African, now living in London). The are promotional various artist CD-rs and are released on the Wall of Sound/Parlophone label. Entitled “The Art of Pop featuring DJ Beware, Vols 1 and 2″, the cover art shows classic Pop Art images, not only by Warhol, but by Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns  and others.

MPHO's
MPHO’s “The Art of Pop featuring DJ Beware, Vol 1″ – a gatefold cover, shown here open.

And that takes us up to 2009. I have thus far not been able to find any compact discs released after this that feature Andy Warhol’s art. But I promise – I will keep on searching.

This post owes a big thank you to Guy Minnebach, who came up with several CDs that I had missed. Thank you, Guy.