he Beatles’s Revolver album was Klaus Voormann’s greatest coup. With the cover design, the graphic artist, illustrator and musician secured his place in the world’s visual memory. He’s still in demand today. The story of his creativity appears in book form on his 80th birthday. The Reeperbahn Festival is showing the exhibition for “It started in Hamburg”. Our sneak preview: five covers, five stories.
Jimmy Giuffre – The Jimmy Giuffre 3 (1957)
I drew the first cover for myself – as a self-imposed mission, so to speak. It was 1958, I was a student at the Meisterschule für Gestaltung in Hamburg and had my first girlfriend. Whenever she was at my place we put on a record by the jazz composer Jimmy Giuffre. He played clarinet and saxophone, but the things that were going on around the music are clearer in my memory. Anyway, I developed my own cover for The Jimmy Giuffre 3, but never published it. The lettering is my own design and hand-painted – there were no computers in those days. Even today, I’m very proud every time I look at it.
Bee Gees – Idea (1968)
After the success of Revolver in 1966, a lot of artists wanted record covers in a similar style. In 1967, Robert Stigwood of NEMS Enterprises, the Bee Gees’ manager, commissioned me to design the band’s second LP. I designed a portrait that looks like a realistic face – but it’s a compilation taken from all the members’ faces. For example, the drummer’s chin, the bass player’s nose and so on. Later on, my cover was replaced by a photo of a light bulb with pictures of the five musicians on the socket. Shortly after Idea was completed, two members quit the band.
The Beatles – Anthology (1995 / 1996)
Neil Aspinall, head of Apple Records, said to me: “We’re bringing out a four-part collector’s album, the covers will illustrate ten years of the band’s history. We’re putting requests to seven artists in total”. A competition! Originally, I wanted to go for seasons, but then the number of CDs was reduced to three so that approach was out of the window. In the end, the idea that won the race was one I realised together with my friend, the illustrator Alfons Kiefer, in more than 1,000 working hours: three paintings that look like billboards with multiple overlapping layers of posters pasted on. Together in landscape format, they reflect the stages in the Beatles’ lives.
Turbonegro – Scandinavian Leather (2003)
One day, a manager called and asked whether I would like to do the cover for Turbonegro’s new album. I asked: “What is that?” and he said: “A death punk band!” I wasn’t sure at first, but then one of the musicians contacted me and persuaded me. So I did several sketches, for example a skull with a gold tooth, before I thought of the ancient symbol of the snake eating itself. I delivered a combination of the two. The motif is now very popular on the scene, it’s printed on shoes and shirts, quite a few people even wear it as a tattoo. A good feeling!
Gaby Moreno & Van Dyke Parks – ¡Spangled! (voraussichtlich 2018)
Van Dyke Parks is a hugely gifted musician and dear friend. He has created the new ¡Spangled! album together with Gaby Moreno. Gaby is a fantastic artist from Guatemala. Musically, the LP moves from New Orleans via Costa Rica to Uruguay, sung in the national language in each case. The concept is inspired by the popular Pan-American tours around 1950: at that time these flying boats were around, that could land on water anywhere. So I wanted to put across a holiday mood on the cover, a bit clichéd of course. The points on the map mark all the stops for the album.