I suppose it was bound to happen! Early in 2016 Sir Peter Blake painted a couple of portraits of his good friend Eric Clapton and these appeared on the cover of the programme for Clapton’s seventieth birthday celebration concerts at Madison Square Garden and The Royal Albert Hall in May 2016. However, the official album of the concerts “Slowhand at 70“–a tripple LP with DVD–did not use the Blake portraits at all. However, two unofficial CD releases included both (please see my previous post on these). Now we know why the “Slowhand at 70” cover didn’t use the Blake portraits–Clapton was saving them for his next studio album “I Still Do“, released on 16th May 2016, exactly one year after the 70th birthday concerts.
The front and rear covers of Clapton’s 2016 album “I Still Do”.
The front cover is beautiful in that Clapton and the record company have chosen not to place either the album’s title or Clapton‘s name on it, but rather allow Blake‘s lovely portrait to send the message. This is the second time Clapton has allowed an unadorned portrait to grace the cover of one of his albums–the previous one was 2004’s “Me and Mr Johnson“.
I have to thank Guy Minnebach for pointing out that these two covers join Andy Warhol‘s cover for “The Velvet Underground & Nico” and Martin Kann‘s cover for bob hund‘s “Omslag: Martin Kann” as the only covers that have the graphic designer’s/painter’s name on the cover rather than the artists’ or the album’s title.
I think the latest album cover by Sir Peter Blake is one of his best. It emphasises just what a great portraitist he is.
Towards the end of September, I came across a Rolling Stones CD with cover art by Andy Warhol that I had not seen before. A search for a possible source lead me to a seller in Japan from whom I bought a copy and thereby found myself on the seller’s mailing list. A newsletter arrived at the end of November and I scrolled through it to see if there were any another Stones CDs with Warholian art that I had missed–with no success. BUT–there was a CD box with a portrait of Eric Clapton that looked suspiciously like a recent Peter Blake portrait. Enlarging the cover picture showed that it really was by Peter Blake–and even had his signature. This was a 14 CD box of all seven concerts that Clapton played at London’s Royal Albert Hall between 14th and 23rd May 2015 to celebrate Clapton‘s 70th birthday that was on 30th March. The set is released on the Mid Valley label and must be a bootleg.
Further Internet searches showed that Clapton had also played two concerts at Madison Square Garden on 1st and 3rd May as part of his birthday celebrations. There had been a common programme for all nine concerts–a LP-sized book with the same picture on one cover and the same portrait of the other but with the Madison Square Garden text.
So I bought a copy! Inside was a further portrait of Eric holding a card with other portraits, drawn by his daughters, Sophie, Ella and Julie:
Well, I had to have the CD box to “complete” my collection of Peter Blake covers but when I returned to the Japanese site it was listed as being out of stock! A feverish Internet search ensued which eventually lead me back to an Ebay seller in Japan who had copies for sale and within four days it had arrived! And then I had another surprise. The same seller advertised a 3 CD set of the Madison Square Gardens concerts! The cover art was again taken from the programme cover:
So I placed an order for this one, too.
I then noticed that there was an official album of Clapton‘s Royal Albert Hall Concerts released on CD, DVD and vinyl called “Slowhand at 70 – Live at The Royal Albert Hall” but the cover art is not by Peter Blake.
And then I started googling Eric Clapton bootlegs. I was astounded by the number available. It would seem that almost every concert Clapton has played since the early 1990s has been bootlegged. Thus it is completely logical that Reprise Records released a double CD and Double LP of Clapton‘s 1991 “24 Nights” series of concerts at The Royal Albert Hall in order to cash in on the interest in his live performances. I found that there were several bootlegs of individual concerts from the “24 Nights” series available. The majority had covers showing photographs of Clapton in various poses take at the concerts, but two–one with a recording from the first night (5th February 1991) and one from the fourth night (9th February 1991) used some of Peter Blake‘s drawings from the cover of the official release. Here is the “First Night” cover:
and here is the “Fourth Night“:
The “First Night” is a double CD while the “Fourth Night” is a double CD-r.
These four CD sets are the first bootlegs that I have been able to discover that use Peter Blake’s art. I wonder if he knows about them? Probably not!