I don’t know anything about the band called Skyline, but they released a 12″, 5-track bootleg album in 1978 on the Four Stars label (catalogue No. FS001) with a cover picture of Manhattan. On the rear of the cover the photo was credited to “A. Warhol.”
The album had totally impossible credits beside the “Warhol” cover credit. The musicians were listed as Johnny Thunders (Lead Vocals, Guitar), Lonnie Davis (Keyboards), Peter Ford (Drums, Percussion) and Charles La Croix (Bass, Keyboards, Vocals). However, the album became a kind of underground disco hit and was re-issued with a different cover.
A few years ago Guy Minnebach, who has an encyclopaedic memory about Andy Warhol‘s art, and Raimund Flöck recognised the cover photo of Susanne de Maria as being from one of Andy Warhol‘s 1964 screen tests and is published in a book of them. And since then this version of the record has been in demand not only by fans of the disco music but now also by collectors of Andy Warhol‘s record cover art. Interestingly, the original bootleg lacked the photo credit to A. Warhol on the rear. I have been looking for a copy for my collection and saw one recently on Ebay on which I bid unsuccessfully. However, I noticed in the photos on Ebay that the cover had the “Photo by A. Warhol” credit on the rear cover and also included a photo of Susanna de Maria (note the correct spelling of Susanna), which sparked my curiosity..
About a month later the seller contacted be via a second chance offer and told me he had another copy for sale, and a deal was done. The record duly arrived and I realised this must be a reprint of the original 12″. It is on a different label–Paint the Case Productions–and has no obvious catalogue number. Included in my copy were two photos of Susanna de Maria; one with “No 49” on the rear and the other with “No 49 out of 50” on the back. Could it be that this repressing was limited edition of just 50 copies?
As anyone can see, the image is much less sharp than on the original 1978 pressing (no, it’s not due camera shake). Even the included photos of Susanna are not 100% focused.
Anyway, the album is a nice addition to my collection of Andy Warhol covers. But I suspect I’ll still look for one of the original 1978 pressings. After a discussion with Guy Minnebach who originally recognised the photo as being from one of Andy Warhol‘s screentests, I conclude that this must be a bootleg of a bootleg! Guy pointed out that bootlegs have previously always been about making music recently an LP version of Paul Anka‘s “Amigos” album appeared. This album was only officially released on CD so the vinyl version seems to be a bootleg only produced for it Warholian cover art. This seems to be the reason for the new pressing of the Skyline album.
Whoever thought that records could become valuable? I was recently staggered by the price tags on a couple of records from the 1970s that I saw in a collectors’ record emporium (SEK 16,000 is equivalent to £1,380 or $1,600; SEK 24,000 is almost £2,000 or $2,500!)
I knew, of course, that records by The Beatles could command exorbitant prices–I actually once owned some of the rarest Beatles items including both the stereo and mono versions of “Please Please Me” with the black and gold Parlophone labels, and an autographed copy of “Love Me Do“, signed on the day after its release in October 1962.
But that albums by bands that I had never heard of could be that expensive was a surprise. Obviously, these albums are in demand for the music they contain. But in recent years prices for records whose cover art is by a famous artist have also rocketed.
Wikipedia has published a list of the “most valuable records of all time” sourcing Record Collector magazine, Popsike, Ebay and others (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_most_valuable_records). Number one is, to my surprise a copy of The Wu Tang Clan‘s LP “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin“. Only one copy was pressed and it apparently sold to a hedge fund manager for $2 million! The recent sale of Ringo Starr‘s copy of The Beatles‘ “White Album” for a mere $790,000 pales in comparison!
In August 2016 a copy of an obscure EP by a band called Skyline was sold on Ebay for $1,500. The EP was released in France in 1978 and it was only in 2015 that Warhol collectors Guy Minnebach and Raimund Flöck recognised the cover image as a still from one of Warhol’s 1964 screen tests featuring Susanna de Maria, and added it to their lists of Warhol record covers. Apparently, this EP is a cult disco rarity and was expensive even before the Warhol association was recognised.
Prices of the records with cover art by Andy Warhol from the 1950s have generally increased considerably in value. I believe that the publication of Paul Maréchal‘s book “Andy Warhol: The Complete Commissioned Record Covers 1949-1987” has played a part in making the early, rarer covers more valuable. It has stimulated interest in this aspect of Andy Warhol‘s work and more collectors searching after a limited number of records means inevitably that prices will rise. However, less scrupulous sellers try to sell records with Warhol art from the 70s and 80s for inflated prices despite the fact that they are generally easy to find quite cheaply if one is prepared to search a bit.
I started collecting record cover art by Banksy in 2008. Covers were then easy to find and not overly expensive. The most expensive covers I bought included a copy of the first pressing of Dirty Funker‘s “Let’s Get Dirty” which cost £100 and two copies of the “Peace Not War” CD that was given away with the February 2008 issue of the magazine The Big Issue for about £40 each. The value of these has more than doubled. CDs with Banksy cover art can still be found at very reasonable prices, it’s the vinyl versions that seem to be most sought after and all have become expensive.
It is still possible to collect a complete collection of records with cover art by Sir Peter Blake for a modest sum. One might have to settle for a modern reissue of the “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” LP to keep costs down, but otherwise it should be possible to collect most of his 24 covers for around £600. The expensive ones being Oasis‘s “Stop the Clocks” triple vinyl set and Paul Weller‘s “Dragonfly” EP. A couple of Peter Blake covers are getting hard to find; “Brand New Boots and Panties: Tribute to Ian Dury“and Paul Weller‘s “Stanley Road” both on LP. Even Brian Wilson‘s “Gettin’ in over My Head” is becoming rare on vinyl. However, if you want to add some of the special, limited editions of Eric Clapton‘s or Paul Weller‘s releases you’ll have to shell out a bit more.
Some art galleries have cottoned on to the fact that artists who are in demand have designed record covers and advertise these as limited edition art works–often calling them “lithographs”. Damien Hirst is one artist’s covers I have seen advertised by galleries. His “Use Money, Cheat Death” 12″ single with his famous Kate Moss portrait was released in a numbered edition of 666 copies. Galleries have been advertising copies for £500+, but I’m not sure anyone buys them.
Another gallery has advertised two (the yellow and pink covers below) of the five singles Damien Hirst and Jason Beard designed for the group The Hours as limited edition lithographs at an asking price of £133 for the pair.
The yellow version of “Ali in the Jungle” is now difficult to find but the remaining four covers in the series can still be found at reasonable prices.
Probably the most reasonably priced covers in my collection are those by Klaus Voormann. Even his early covers in the “Pioneers of Jazz” series from 1960 are still affordable.
His very first official cover–for The Typhoons (“Walk, Don’t Run“, a cover of The Ventures hit)–is impossible to find as is a mythical album of jazz tunes that I have only heard about but never seen.
It seems there’s no limit to what a record cover with art by a famous artist can cost. So desirable covers seem to be not only beautiful, but are even a good investment.
The Cranbrook Art Museum in Bloomfield Hills, north north west of Detroit, is currently exhibiting called “Warhol on Vinyl – The Record Covers 1949-1987”. This is the first comprehensive exhibition of Andy Warhol’s record cover art since the Montreal exhibition “Warhol Live!” in 2008. Of course, many record covers with art by Andy Warhol have been unearthed since that exhibition thus making the Cranbrook show essential viewing for anyone interested in this aspect of Warhol’s oevre. Included in the Cranbrook exhibition are such recently discovered covers as Lew White’s “Melodic Magic” EP on the Camden label.
Others include two LP covers on the RCA Victor Bluebird label; Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, and “Porgy & Bess / Grieg’s Symphonic Dances which join the Byron Janis recording of “Rhapsody in Blue” as being acknowledged Warhol covers.
A number of bootleg albums that use Warhol’s art were also included including three Velvet Underground boots: “Screen Test: Falling in Love with the Falling Spikes”, “NYC” and “Orange Disaster”, The Rolling Stones’ “Live in Laxington”, Mick Jagger’s “Suntory D R Y Beer”.
The search for more records and CDs with Warhol’s art continues. I recently added a couple more to my collection. I had bought the re-issue version of the CRI CD coupling Matias Pickjer’s “Keys to the City” with Marc Blitzstein’s “Piano Concerto” with a smaller image of Warhol’s “Brooklyn Bridge” print:
And I also found an unusual CD of a classical concert including Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro” and “Prague Symphony (No. 38)” performed by the NHK Orchestra on one disc and Mahler’s “Symphony No. 5″ on the second, released by an organisation called NTT Data. The cover had an intriguing Warhol drawing on the front and on each CD that I could not resist. When I showed photographs to members of The Warhol Cover Collectors Club they could identify the drawing as one from a series that Warhol did in a book for ‘Play Book of You S. Bruce from 2:30-4:00”. It was a very special portfolio because only 1 copy was made. Subject of all portraits is Stephen Bruce, the owner of the Serendipity restaurant in New York where Warhol used to hang out a lot in the Fifties. He must have had a crush on Bruce, because he made this drawings supposedly in one night, in ballpoint pen and offered Bruce the portfolio. The portfolio was sold at Sotheby’s in 2010 for £181.250 [Thanks to Guy Minnebach for this information]. There is book of the drawings as well.
On October 25th 2013 Damien Hirst’s 22nd record cover for Babyshambles’ “Fall From Grace”, the band’s second single from their “Sequel to the Prequel” album was released on September 2nd 2013. The album cover as well as both singles had cover design by Hirst, who with this latest cover passed the number of covers designed by Sir Peter Blake. Depending a little on how one defines a Peter Blake cover, Blake has produced 21 covers in the 47 years since Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in 1967. This cover was, of course, designed by Blake and his then wife Jann Haworth – and so should be regarded as a joint effort. The cover for Madness’ limited edition CD version of “Oui, Oui, Si, Si, Ja, Ja, Da, Da” has him pictured on the cover, but the design is by Paul Agar with photography by Perou.
I do not suppose many would argue with me if I suggest that much of Damien Hirst’s art is ugly. Dissected animals or fish in formalin tanks, skulls (even when encrusted with diamonds) do not appear beautiful to these eyes. And Damien Hirst’s record covers fit the mould. His first record cover art was for Dave Stewart’s “Greetings From the Gutter” released in 1994. Hirst’s first covers are really unremarkable – the six variously coloured gas tubes with tubing attached on the Dave Stewart album and the dissection of an egg by two rubber-gloved hands on the “Heart of Stone” single from Stewart’s album are hardly design masterpieces. These are followed by Hirst’s ugliest covers; the CD for Fat Les’ “Vindaloo” with foldout poster and “Yalla Yalla” the single from Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros’ album “Rock Art & The X-ray Style” from 1999. For the album, Hirst drew a series of matchstick men reminiscent of stone-age cave paintings or aboriginal art and these figures appeared on the “Bankrobber 99” promotional single as well.
In 2006, Hirst became manager for the band The Hours and designed the covers for their first album “Narcissus Road” and the singles taken from it; “Ali in the Jungle” and “Back When You Were Good”. These were released on the A & M label.
Hirst made a limited edition of 210 spin-painted skulls as holders for the CD retailing at a cool £4,500 each!
Hirst then started his own record label “Is Good” and The Hours’ second album “See the Light” was released on the label, again with cover art by him. The album was released on gatefold vinyl and a double 12″ single “See the Light” was also released. And, as had been for the singles from “Narcissus Road”, each was decorated with more of Hirst’s skull designs.
In February 2008 the cover of TAR Magazine used Damien Hirst’s portrait of Kate Moss where the right side of her face was dissected down to the muscles. The following year, Hirst released a white vinyl, one-sided 12″ single with the same image on the cover. Hirst’s given name was misspelt on the record label: “Damian”. The single was released in a numbered edition of 666 copies and is currently very sought after.
Hirst’s next cover “I’m With You” for The Red Hot Chili Peppers (2011) revisited two of his earlier subjects, drugs represented by a coloured capsule and decay, represented by a single fly on the capsule.
Hirst designed the cover for the band 30 Seconds to Mars’ fourth album “Love Lust Faith & Dreams” in May 2013 and used his polka dot pattern. The album was released on CD and vinyl and in a limited edition boxed set with the LP, a double CD, a book and four prints.
Later the same year Hirst designed the covers for Babyshambles’ “Sequel to the Prequel” album and the two singles released from it that autumn; “Nothing Comes From Nothing” and “Fall From Grace”. According to Babyshambles’ bassist Drew McConnell reported in NME: “It happened kind of naturally and in the spirit you’d hope for. We asked Damien to suggest someone to put something together, then to our amazement he offered to do it himself. The fact that he used a pic taken by Pennie Smith, who shot all those iconic photos of The Clash (Damien’s old pal Joe Strummer’s band), just makes it make even more sense.”
So those are Damien Hirst’s first 22 covers from his first twenty years of record cover design 1994 – 2013.
And, as is my wont, I’ll list one cover ascribed to Damien Hirst that is not by him. According to Wikipedia Hirst did prepare a design for the cover for the Band Aid 20 single “Do They Know It’a Christmas?”. His design showing the grim reaper and a starving child was considered too scary and was dropped. Mat Maitland at Big Active, a designer in his own right who has designed covers for Michael Jackson and others was commissioned to design the replacement. Rumour has it that Hirst released a limited edition print of his design for the cover. But I have, thus far, not been able to find one.
The thing that makes the past year’s collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover art most exciting is, without a doubt, the informal convening of The Warhol Cover Collectors’ Club (WCCC). The Club’s four other members have contributed enormous amounts of enthusiasm and knowledge and found a many record covers with art either by Warhol or that is clearly influenced by him. I cannot thank them all enough for their input and stimulus to keep me up to date.
I have been trying to keep my list of Warhol covers up to date and members of the WCCC have pointed put omissions. I realised during the past year that I have been naive when maintaining this list. I had not realised that it had become a reference site and that posting records there influenced sales of covers and thus prices. In retrospect, I should never have advertised the RATFAB cover – I could have gone on buying copies for under $10 had I not shared its existence with viewers of my list. I’ve learned my lesson, however, and keep “mum” about one rare cover….
I have prided myself on having a fairly good and representative collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art, although my collection lacked some of the rarer early Warhol covers. Over the past twelve months I have managed to fill several of the major gaps as prices for some of the not-quite-so-rare items have come down somewhat. Thus I have added both volumes of “Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish”, “Latin Rhythms by The Boston Pops”, Vladimir Horowitz’ “Piano Music of Mendelssohn and Lizst” to my collection. I was, however, convinced that a couple of the seriously rare covers, such as the “Night Beat” promotional box and the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” would never find their way into my collection. So, I hatched the idea of making my own and supplying the WCCC with copies for their collections. 2013 just happened to be the fiftieth anniversary of the first production of Andy Warhol’s “Giant Size $1.57 Each” record cover. I hade made a digital copy of this cover for the 2008 “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition in Piteå, Sweden, but now wanted to produce true copies exactly as Warhol had done. That meant spraying record sleeves with paint and then silkscreening his “Giant Size” image over the painted sleeve. Warhol made prints of the sleeve in five colour variations: red, orange, yellow, green and white. His placement of the silkscreen on each cover was quite sloppy and he was not too bothered if areas of the “Giant Size” motif failed to print. From pictures that I have seen of the rear covers it is clear that he stacked covers on top of one another before the paint was completely dry as there is paint residue on the rear of many sleeves.
In addition to making the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” record covers, I decided to make ten and seven inch versions of the unreleased “Progressive Piano” record as well as the the “Night Beat” promotional box and the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” EP. Thus I was able to add nine new covers to my collection; “Night Beat”, the “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” and ten and seven inch versions of the “Progressive Piano” album and the five colour variants of the “Giant Size” sleeve.
During the year I also managed to find copies of Keely Smith’s “I Wish You Love” (both LP and EP versions), The Velvet Underground’s bootlegs “Paris 1990” and the red version of “Screen Test: Falling in Love With the Falling Spikes” and several EPs that I was missing, including Joe Newman Octet’s “I’m Still Swinging” (in several variations), Tchaikovsky’s “Violin Concerto” in a three EP box, German pressings of Artie Shaw’s “Both Feet in the Groove” and Joe Newman Octet’s “I’m Still Swinging” and a few CDs with Andy Warhol art including Mark Blixtstein / Tobias Pinker “Piano Concerto / Keys to the City” CD, David Cronenberg’s “Cronenberg on Warhol” and Rasmussen’s “Three friends” CD. I also found copies of Walter Steding’s “Dancing in Heaven” LP and “Secret Spy” 45, Aretha Franklin’s “Jerry Lee”, “Rock-a-lott” and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and Enola Gay’s “Döda djur” singles and The Smith’s “Sheila Take a Bow” 12 inch.
All in all I have, over the past twelve months, added forty-one titles, including the eight replicas I have made myself, to my collection of Warhol covers. And I have added a few records with covers that resemble Andy Warhol’s art such as The Darling Buds’ “It’s All up to You” and The Velvet Underground’s “Velvet Redux – Live MCMXCIII” Video disc and “Harvest” CD. There are a few bootlegs that I have yet to find, but – as far as I can tell today – no official releases. The final addition to my collection this year is not really a Warhol cover, but the record and catalogue from the 1963 “Popular Image Exhibition” recorded by Billy Klüver with cover art by Warhol’s fellow Pop Artist, Jim Dine.
Here’s wishing all readers a Happy 2014 and much success in their continued collecting of Andy Warhol’s record cover art. I hope we will see a new exhibition of his record sleeves during the year.
The Washington Gallery of Modern Art put on The Popular Image Exhibition between April 18th and June 2nd 1963. Eleven artists were represented including Claes Oldenburg, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauchenberg, John Wesley, Tom Wesselman, Robert Watts, James Rosenquist, Vern Blosom, George Becht, Andy Warhol and Jim Dine.
Billy Klüver, Swedish engineer turned art director, recorded interviews with all eleven artists during March 1963 and edited the inerviews, which were subsequently released on an LP record. The record was housed in a plain whitepaper inner sleeve together with the exhibition catalogue and these were sold inside an envelope. The cover image on the catalogue and the outer envelope was designed by Jim Dine. The image on the envelope was printed in a shade of blue n a white background, while that on the catalogue cover was printed in black on a white background.
According to the catalogue, Andy Warhol was represented by ten oil paintings on canvas. There is no mention of his “Giant Size $1.57 Each” record sleeve. So how did the exhibition record come to be sold in this new Warhol designed and produced cover?
Were there records over after the exhibition that were put into new covers. or did Billy Klüver have a stock of records without covers that he felt needed new sleeves? Whichever was the case, he appears to have asked Andy Warhol to produce a new cover, resulting in the screening of the “Giant Size” cover.
Neither Andy Warhol (who died on 22nd February 1987) nor Billy Klüver (1935-2004) are alive today to relate the true history of the Popular Image Exhibition record and the “Giant Size $1.57 Each cover.
Andy Warhol produced the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” sleeve in five variations with the help of Billy Klüver, who had recorded the interviews with the artists involved in the “Popular Images” exhibition at the (now defunkt) Washington Gallery of Modern Art that ran from 18th April until 2nd June, 1963. The exact history is not known. A first edition of 75 sleeves with black image screened directly onto the coated stock record sleeve, each signed and numbered on verso was produced in 1963. He could even have printed the coloured covers at the same time or, having saved the screen, made them in 1971. Editions of 75 copies each, silkscreening the black “Giant Size” image onto sleeves that he had first spray painted. There were yellow, green, red and orange editions. These were sold in 1971.
Many covers have included the record from the “Popular Images” exhibition, possibly because Billy Klüver had a stock of the LPs. The record, comprising interviews with all eleven artists whose works were shown at the exhibition was recorded by Billy Klüver and originally came in a cover designed by Jim Dine. It seems, however, that the “Giant Size” cover was not shown at the exhibition.
Copies of the cover with or without the record have changed hands for anywhere between $10,000 and $20,000, making them unattainable for most collectors of Andy Warhol’s record sleeve art.
However, the technique should be easy to replicate and the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” image is easy to find and reproduce. All that is needed is the right materials. Sufficient 12-inch record sleeves, spray paints, a silk screen and emulsion for transferring the image from overhead film to the screen. Then acrylic paint to screen the image onto the pre-prepared covers.
So, having foraged for all the materials I set to work and spent 2 1/2 hours spraypainting record sleeves in the four colours.
Until all four colours were sprayed.
I had put my name down to go a silkscreen course and was one of six “pupils” to participate on the weekend of October 12-13th. I intended to make ten sets of five covers and silkscreen the “Giant Size $1.57 Each” design onto two T-shirts.
Then I got down to silkscreening the covers, beginning with the yellow ones. Orange, green and red covers followed and finally, when had learned the technique better, I screened the white, unsprayed sleeves. I had ordered 50 covers – so no room for error. Unfortunately there were a few poor screens so I will need more covers to complete the ten sets I had planned.
The five members of our informal Warhol Cover Collectors Club have contributed to the production of these covers and will each receive a set of all five colours,