Category Archives: Andy Warhol’s record cover art

Collecting Andy Warhol’s Record Cover Art. How to Credit Previously Unrecognised covers?

I curated what I thought would be the first exhibition of Andy Warhol’s record covers in Piteå, Sweden, in July 2008 I enlisted the help of fellow collector Guy Minnebach to assemble as complete a collection of record Warhol’s record covers as possible. Only later did I find out that Warhol’s record covers had been shown before-usually as part of other exhibitions of his art, and then only exhibiting a few covers. My intention with the 2008 exhibition was to try to gather together all the covers he designed or illustrated.

Just two months after the exhibition in Piteå closed, the Museum of Art in Montreal, Canada, put on a major exhibition entitled “Warhol Live!” which showed the link between Warhol’s art and music. Many of the record covers shown came from the collection of Paul Maréchal and his book “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers 1949-1987: Catalogue Raisonné” was published to coincide with the “Warhol Live!” exhibition.

Just before the Piteå exhibition, Guy Minnebach had discovered the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr.” EP and the “Warhol Live!” exhibition showed Paul Maréchal’s newly discovered “Night Beat” box set. In September 2008, a friend of mine read an interview in a magazine with a Swedish musician turned actor who had been a member of a band called Roland and the Flying Albatros Band (known as RATFAB for short). In the interview he said that the cover of the Band’s second single had been designed by Andy Warhol. Thus started my search for this cover, and I quickly found three copies. The RATFAB single “Det brinner en eld / Mörka ögon” became the first Warhol cover NOT to be included in Maréchal’s book!

Since then, a number of covers, unrecognised in 2008, illustrated or designed by Andy Warhol have been identified.
1. Margarita Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish, Volume 2 (LP),
2. Vladimir Horowitz – Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Lizst (LP),
3. Lew White – Melodic Magic (EP),
4. Artie Shaw – Any Old Time (LP and EP),
5. Pyotr Tchaikovsky – Violin Concerto (LP and EP box),
6. Loredana Berté – Made in Italy (LP),
7. George Gershwin / Edvard Grieg – Porgy & Bess / Symphonic Dances (LP and EP box),
8. Walter Steding – Secret Spy / My Room (7″ single),
9. Curiosity Killed the Cat – Misfit / Man (7″ single).

And this list doesn’t include bootlegs or records and CDs that simply appropriated Warhol’s art for their covers. And it doesn’t include covers after 1987 that simply use or reuse Warhol’s art, such as Paul Anka’s “Amigos” or Skyline’s “Skyline” or even The Silver Apples’ “Fractal Flow / Lovefingers“.

There has been a problem in having new covers suggested to be by Warhol verified. An example is the rear cover drawing on Keely Smith’s 1957 Capitol Records LP “I Wish You Love“. By this date, Warhol was an acclaimed commercial artist and his “dot and blot” technique was being used by other illustrators. Warhol is not known to have worked with Capitol Records on any other projects, so this drawing cannot certainly be accredited to Warhol. There are similar discussions about the Tchaikovsky (No. 5 in the above list) and the Gershwin / Grieg (No. 7 in the list) designs also released in 1957, but these were at least released on the RCA Victor Bluebird label, and Warhol did many designs for RCA and its other subsidiary Camden Records. Maréchal has included the Tchaikovsky, but not the Gershwin / Grieg in the second edition of his book.

There are probably more cover designs by Andy Warhol waiting to be identified. A recent case in point is the sister box to NBC’s “Night Beat”  entitled “Voices and Events“. As with the designs for the “Progressive Piano” EP set and 10″ LP a lithograph of the “Voices and Events” cover design exists in The Warhol Museum and was shown at the “Adman-Warhol Before Pop” exhibition in Australia early in 2017. It isn’t clear whether The Warhol Museum recognised this to be the design for an EP box set, but when I saw it I immediately saw the similarity to the “Night Beat” design with the dots on three sides. No one knows if the “Voices and Events” box was ever released. I suppose, like the “Night Beat” set, it was intended as a promotional teaser but the radio show it was intended to promote only lasted three episodes… so probably not.

By my reckoning, there are some 55 individual covers that can be attributed to Andy Warhol (I do not count different formats that use the same, or similar, designs), but there is no way that a newly identified cover can be given accreditation, other than being recognised by Paul Maréchal and included in future editions of his “Complete Commissioned Record Covers“.

“Voices and Events” – A Previously Unrecognised Andy Warhol Record Cover.”

Occasionally serendipity strikes. A week ago I went to Stockholm’s Moderna Museet to see the retrospective exhibition of Marie-Louise Ekman’s art. In true Banksy style I left thru’ the gift shop and while there I noticed a new book about Andy Warhol’s early career–“Adman-Warhol Before Pop“, published b the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Australia, to coincide with their exhibition of the same name, which ran from February to 28th May 2017.

IMG_0265
Nicholas Chamber’s exhibition book published by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

I couldn’t resist a quick flick through just to see if there were any record covers featured. I was excited to see quite a few of Warhol’s earliest covers, including “A Program of Mexican Music“, “The Story of Moondog“, with Julia Warhola’s beautifully querky calligraphy, Johnny Griffin’s “The Congregation” and sketches for the Tennessee Williams LP, Billie Holiday EPs and one of the “Progressive Piano” designs. There was also a picture of one of Julia Warhola’s early attempts to write the cover for “The Story of Moondog” album.

 

Adman-Spread5
Julia Warhola’s trial version of the cover text for “The Story of Moondog”.

But what I wasn’t prepared for was:

Adman-Spread3
Page 97 in “Adman-Warhol Before Pop” with a picture of the cover slick for an recording of an NBC radio programme called “Voices and Events“.
Voices&Events-slick
The cover slick for “Voices and Events” box set.

Having made reproductions of the “Night Beat” box set, I immediately recognised that this was the design for a similar box. While there exists a physical example of the “Night Beat” set, discovered by famous Warhol collector and author, Paul Maréchal, that has a record company catalogue number, as far as I know no physical example of the “Voices and Events” box exists and so I cannot know if it was actually released. I don’t even know if it was intended for a box of seven-inch EPs or for LPs, but I suspect the former.

So–all you Warhol cover collectors out there please start searching! Meanwhile I’m gonna try to make me a copy.

 

More Sources of Warhol’s Record Cover Illustrations and Daniel Blau’s Book of Warhol’s 1950s Drawings.

Artipelag is an art gallery on Sweden’s Baltic coast about a 30-minute drive eastwards from Stockholm. It was founded by Björn Jacobsson, the man behind the Baby Björn range of infant products. Jacobsson had a vision for a gallery located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea and found an architect willing to design it. There have been many inspiring exhibitions there since it opened in 2012. One of the more recent exhibitions was “The Legacy of Andy Warhol” which ran from 15th April until 25th September 2016. This exhibition was curated by Artipelag’s artistic director Bo Nilsson, himself an avid Warhol fan and, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the first to write about Warhol’s record cover art in the catalogue to Sweden’s Nationalmuseum’s 1981-1982 exhibition of record covers.

fullsizeoutput_46de
The subway poster for Artipelag’s exhibition “The Legacy of Andy Warhol”.

The first thing that met visitors to the exhibition was a mountain of Brillo boxes, like the ones on the poster, specially made for the show.
IMG_5623

One large, silver foil-clad exhibition space was devoted to films including Roland Nameth‘s 1966 film “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable” featuring the Velvet Underground, apparently the first time the film has been shown with its original soundtrack, and Warhol‘s “Empire State Building“.

IMG_5650

There was a small room with walls lined with a selection of reproductions of Warhol’s record covers–though mainly from the 70’s onwards, although the “Velvet Underground & Nico” cover was there, too, and surprisingly one of Warhol’s drawings for a projected Billie Holiday EP was included. I thought it a pity that there were no actual record covers, only prints.
IMG_5634

A real surprise waited just through the sliding doors into the next space. The walls were lined with a large selection of Daniel Blau‘s collection of Warhol‘s drawings from the 1950s. I suppose there were about thirty drawings, but the two that I immediately reacted to were obviously related to Warhol‘s record cover art.

The drawing of the apple made me think of the “William Tell Overture” cover and the reclining woman was obviously a study for Kenny Burrell‘s “Blue Lights” album cover.

There was also a photo booth at the exhibition–a real Warholian touch! Visitors could photograph themselves free. And out came a card with four Warhol-style photos!
fullsizeoutput_364f

I visited the exhibition twice and photographed myself both times. but I lost the second photo in the restaurant. Clumsy!

I put the exhibition out of my mind until I read Guy Minnebach‘s wonderful “Andy Earhole-Another Blog about Andy Warhol’s Cover art” and a post about the “Night Beat” box set, which Guy illustrated with a picture of a man talking on the telephone from Daniel Blau‘s 2012 book “From Silverpoint to Silver Screen–Andy Warhol, 1950s Drawings“. I immediately ordered a copy and consider it one of the best books on Warhol‘s art in my book collection. Not only are the pictures superb, but the essay “Environments, Situations, Spaces” by James Hofmaier is a wonderful introduction to Andy Warhol‘s world.

Daniel Blau fr
Daniel Blau’s “From SIlverpoint to Silver Screen–Andy Warhol, 1950s Drawings”.

There were more drawings in Blau’s book that resembled Warhol’s cover illustrations. The only one I couldn’t find in the book was the apple drawing I saw at Artipelag. Here are a selection with the respective cover.
fullsizeoutput_46d2fullsizeoutput_46cdfullsizeoutput_46d0fullsizeoutput_46d3

Note that the original drawings for the “Blue Lights” cover and the hands on the Jan August cover are mirror images of the original photos. This is because they are blots of Warhol‘s original tracing. The drawing of the piano playing hands from the Jan August album was used for the unreleased “Progressive Piano” LP and EP.

ProgressivePiano_10"_600
Cover lithograph of the unreleased “Progressive Piano” 10″ LP with Warhol’s drawing of hands playing the piano copied from the Jan August LP cover.

The drawing I have placed beside the Horowitz album is not the one used on the record sleeve, but just shows how Warhol drew many pictures of hands playing the piano. Perhaps this drawing was intended for the “Progressive Piano” cover too, but was never used.

I really must thank Guy Minnebach for telling me about Blau‘s magnificent book “From Silverpoint to Silver Screen–Andy Warhol, 1950s Drawings“, I will spend many happy hours enjoying the superb drawings. It obviously is the catalogue of an exhibition of Warhol‘s 1950’s drawings–an exhibition I would love to have seen. But seeing many of the original drawings at Artipelag feels like I did get a little peek.

The Velvet Underground & Nico Album Cover

The album “The Velvet Underground & Nico” is remarkable for many reasons–not least the music. a. It is one of only two albums that I know of that names the cover designer rather than the band or the record’s title on the front (the other being Swedish band bob hund‘s 1996 LP “Omslag: Martin Kann“.) b. The cover provoked two lawsuits (more on those later). c. Gatefold covers had generally only been used for double albums. Elvis Presley’s “Elvis Is Back!” from 1956 is said to be the first gatefold cover for a single LP and “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” was not released until two months after the Velvets’ album.

In 1965 Andy Warhol became The Velvet Underground‘s manager and he booked them into New York’s Scepter Studios in April 1966 to record the group’s first album which was de facto produced by studio owner Norman Dolph rather than by Warhol. Warhol insisted that chanteuse Nico (real name Christa Päffgen) sing on the album and she sang on three songs. For unknown reasons some songs were rerecorded and some new songs recorded by producer Tom Wilson in Los Angeles later that year. Wilson was a staff producer for Columbia (and later Verve) Records and had produced three of Bob Dylan‘s early albums (“Another Side of Bob Dylan“, “The Times They Are A’Changin’“, four tracks on “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan“, “Bringing It All Back Home“) including the hit single “Like a Rolling Stone“. Warhol offered the album to Columbia Records, who turned it down! Then through the Andy Warhol association Verve Records agreed to release it. Logically enough, as Nico was not a member of the group the album’s title was “The Velvet Underground & Nico. The “&” emphasizing the fact.

Warhol gave his Banana painting to the band for the album cover. The removable banana on the front was difficult to produce and delayed the album’s release until March 1967. Acy R. Lehman, who designed the cover, decided on the gatefold to be able to include photos of the band members taken by Paul Morrissey, and colour photos by Verve photographer Hugo. I have seen the large band photo on the rear cover credited to Andy Warhol, so I am not sure it was by him or, as stated in the album credits, by Hugo.

The rear cover photograph showed actor Eric Emerson the lights projected behind the band with his inverted face superimposed on the picture of Lou Reed‘s head. This is commonly called the “Torso” version”. Emerson was in need of money as he had been charged with drug offenses and sued Verve Records to pay him for the use of his photograph. Verve refused to pay and recalled as many copies as it could and stuck a large black sticker over the offending photograph. On subsequent printings of the album sleeve the photograph was airbrushed to obscure Emerson’s portrait before the album could be reissued in June 1967. This delay badly affected the album’s sales; only about 30,000 copies being sold between 1967 and 1972 – I must be one of the early buyers as I bought my copy in late 1967 on the strength of the review in Rolling Stone. Brian Eno is quoted as saying in 1982 “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.” – obviously, with one exception – me!

There were promo copies distributed with the “Torso” cover which had white or yellow record labels. I think all promos were mono versions with “Torso” rear cover. There are three versions of the cover of the original American release: a first state with the “torso” rear cover, a second state with the sticker over the upper part of the torso picture and the third state with Emerson airbrushed out.

The front cover of the mono version.
The front cover of the mono version.

The front cover of the stereo version. Note the lower positioning of the banana.
The front cover of the stereo version. Note the lower positioning of the banana.

The
The “first state” torso rear cover. Below: the airbrushed “third state” rear cover.
VU-Airbrush_bk

The rear cover with the sticker covering Emerson's face.
The rear cover with the sticker covering Emerson’s face.
This album has never been out of print since it was originally released. There have been several variations on the cover design and recent re-issues have once again reverted to the original “torso” rear cover photo. Some re-issues have appeared with coloured vinyl (yellow or red) and a limited edition by Newbury Comics is on black and yellow vinyl.

The original UK version was released with a single cover and the banana was not peelable. A later German re-issue showed only the peeled banana and other re-issues have added the album’s title to the front cover. There are at least three picture disc versions of the album; two from Russia on the Vinyl Lovers label (one in a die-cut card sleeve and one in a clear plastic sleeve. These have the title at upper left and “Andy Warhol” at lower right while the third picture disc has all the text at upper left, including “Andy Warhol”.

Re-issue with title on front.
Re-issue with title on front.

German 1975 re-issue with unusual cover.
German 1975 re-issue with unusual cover.
VU-PictureDisc_fr

Vinyl Lovers picture disc in die-cut card sleeve.
Vinyl Lovers picture disc in die-cut card sleeve.
I mentioned at the start of this essay that the album was the cause of two law suits. The first was Eric Emerson’s suit for compensation for the use of his face on the cover. This was resolved by Verve airbrushing out the offending face. However it seems that the hatchet has been buried since as recent re-issues have reinstated the torso picture on the back.

The second law suit was when The Warhol Foundation in 2012 licensed the banana image for use on smart phone and iPad accessories. Lou Reed and John Cale sued the Foundation, claiming that Warhol had given them the image and that The Warhol Foundation did not have the right to license it to third parties. The case was settled out of court the following year. Neither party has revealed the terms of the settlement.

The Velvet Underground & Nico is a great album with a great cover that is one of the ten most recognisable covers, alongside “Sgt Pepper“, “The Dark Side of the Moon“, “Sticky Fingers“, Nirvana’s “Nevermind“, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run“, “Never Mind the Bollocks–Here’s the Sex Pistols“–and you can name the others.

Records and CDs with Andy Warhol Cover Art – Where to Draw the Line

I suppose it was the fact that a collection of 105 record covers bearing cover art by Andy Warhol or his associates is currently up for auction at Sotheby’s in London (auction date 29th & 30th September, 2015) with an estimated sale price of £30,000 to £50,000 that made me sit down and think about which covers should and should not be included in a collection of Warhol covers.

I have made a list of record (LPs, EPs and singles) and CD covers that currently includes 218 items. I have included some doubles like various pressings of Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” album as well as re-issues of the Alexander Nevsky cover and various formats of fifites EPs by Artie Shaw and The Joe Newman Octet. However, I haven’t included the Liberty re-issues of Kenny Burrell’s Blue Note albums with Warhol drawings or the various Blue Note issues with different New York addresses in my list.

The collection on sale at Sotheby’s includes some covers that I have not included in my list – such as Loredana Berte’s “Jazz” album. Also included in the sale are some “replica” covers. As I know whose collection this is, I can guess that these “replicas” are a couple of the covers I made (“Progressive Piano” and “Night Beat“). I wonder how Sotheby’s views the inclusion of these “fakes”. I shall visit the pre-auction viewing and try to find out.

The collection on sale includes some very rare items including a “Giant Size $1.57 Each” cover signed by Billy Klüver (who together with Warhol silkscreened the covers) and copies of “Sticky Fingers” and “The Velvet Underground & Nico” signed by Andy Warhol. But – some rare covers, like the Lew White “Melodic Magic” and “Waltzes by Johann Strauss Jr.” and the rarer blue version of “A Program of Mexican Music” – are missing. It also includes the East Village Other’s “Electric Newspaper” (incidentally, also included in Paul Maréchal’s book), which has no other connection with Warhol than the record contains a track “composed” by him. The cover art is definitely not by Warhol.

My list includes more thirty-five CDs – only one of which (Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha“) was actually released in Warhol’s lifetime. Should these really be considered to be “Warhol Covers”? Just this week two more bootleg CDs arrived that use Warhol’s 1975 folio of prints of Mick Jagger for their cover art. The first is called “Marquee ’71 + Sticky Out” and the second “Raretracks+“.

The Rolling Stones' bootleg CD
The Rolling Stones’ bootleg CD “Raretracks+”.

Stones_RareTracks+_frMany of the records and CDs on my list are bootlegs – by The Velvet Underground or, like these most recent additions, The Rolling Stones. Should a serious collection include bootlegs or be restricted to officially released material?

I would be interested in reading other collector’s opinions as to where to draw the line when collecting Warhol cover art.