I have mainly collected LPs and have never really been interested in singles or extended play (EPs), which has proved to be a mistake from an investment point of view. Original pop EPs from sixties bands have become valuable as they sold in relatively small numbers.
Columbia Records indroduced the LP record in June 1948. RCA Records was initially unwilling to licence this format and were developing its own rival format. RCA introduced the seven inch 45 rpm single in February 1949. The seven inch single could accomodate one three minute recording on each side. However, almost immediately RCA began producing extended play versions of the seven inch disc, with two tracks on each side, increasing playing time to almost ten minutes per side.
Paul Maréchal pubished his book “Andy Warhol – The Record Covers 1949-1987” in 2008. The book lists all the records known to have been designed by Andy Warhol that were recognised at that time and lists the formats each was issued in. As most 45 r.p.m. records used the same design as the LP, Maréchal has only illustrated the LP-versions. This list is intended to focus on the seven inch versions and includes a couple of covers not listed by Maréchal.
|Frank Lovejoy||Night Beat||3×7” box set||NBC||EO-CX-342||1949/1950|
|Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops||Latin Rhythms||7”||RCA||ERA-25||1952|
|Arturo Toscanini / NBC Symphony Orchestra||William Tell Overture /Semiramide Overture||2×7”||RCA||ERB 7054||1954|
|Count Basie||Count Basie||3×7” in gatefold cover||RCA||EPC-1112-1, 2, 3||1956|
|Joe Newman Octet||I’m Still Swinging||3×7″||RCA||EPC-1198-1, 2, 3||1956|
|Johann Strauss Jr.||Waltzes||7”||Camden||CAE 158||1956|
|Artie Shaw||Both Feet in the Groove||2×7”||RCA||EPA 767||1956|
|Byron Janis||Rhapsody in Blue / Grand Canyon Suite||2×7” box set||Bluebird||WBC 1045||1957|
|Keely Smith||I Wish You Love||7”||Capitol||EAP 1-914||1957|
|Count Basie||Count Basie||3×7” discs||RCA||1957|
|Artie Shaw||Any Old Time||7”||RCA||EPA 1570||1958|
|Rolling Stones||The Rolling Stones||Black vinyl picture sleeve||Rolling Stones||EP 287||1977|
|Rolling Stones||The Rolling Stones||7” picture disc (Bootleg?)||Rolling Stones||EP 287||1977|
Andy Warhol’s first commissions as a record cover artist came from Robert M. Jones, who succeeded Alex Steinweiss as art director at Columbia Records, soon after Warhol had arrived in New York in 1949. That same year Warhol also received a commission from RCA to illustrate the cover of a promotional EP box released to promote NBC’s “Night Beat” radio serial, which featured Frank Lovejoy as the Chicago Star’s reporter Randy Stone. “Night Beat” was broadcast in the US between Febrary 1950 and September 1952. This promotional release was produced as three EPs on blue vinyl in a box. Incidentally, NBC was a subsidiary of RCA since it was bought by the parent company in 1928.
RCA, and its daughter labels (such as Bluebird and Camden), continued to release EPs with selections from LPs throughout the 1950s and usually with the same cover art on the EP as had been used on the LP. Andy Warhol was one of a number of commercial artists commissioned by RCA to illustrate record covers. One of the first, from about 1954, was probably the cover for a project that appears never to have been released. RCA obviously planned to produce a ten inch LP and a double EP comprising eight tracks of jazz piano music entitled “Progressive Piano”, even assigning the release a catalogue number (LJM 3001 for the LP version and 45EP-EJB 3001 for the EP version). Andy Warhol designed the cover and The Warhol Museum has lithographs of the design. The design of the hands in this illustation is reminiscent of the way Warhol drew the hands on Horowitz’ recording of “Piano Music by Mendelssohn and Grieg” (RCA – LM 9021).
A single EP “Latin Rhythms” by The Boston Pops was probably released around 1952. I have not been able to find an LP of Latin Rhythms by The Boston Pops Orchestra from around this time although they did record a 3 LP box with the same title, probably later. The cover of the Latin Rhythms EP is a classic Warhol coloured illustration with four musicians against a background with multiple green and pick blobs.
In 1954 RCA released a 10″ LP with Rossini’s William Tell Overture coupled with the Semiramide Overture played by the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by Arturo Toscanini and a double EP with these tracks was also released with Warhol’s representation of the famous apple that Tell shot from his son’s head as the cover motif.
The next EP collection was a tripple EP in an unusual tripple gatefold cover
The three Count Basie EPs were released separately in Germany, each having the same Warhol Basie portrait on the cover (catalogue Nos: EPC 1112-1, EPC 1112-2, EPC 1112-3).
RCA also released EPs of the Joe Newman Octet’s “I’m Still Swinging” LP at about the same time as the Count Basie set on three separate EPs. The only difference in the cover art was a change from red to blue in the colour . Similarly, the company released a double gatefold EP of the Artie Shaw “Both Feet in the Groove” LP. According to Guy Minnebach there were several different tints of blue on the EP covers.
The recording of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” together with Grofé’s “Grand Canyon Suite” was issued as an LP that is not included in Maréchal’s book. The cover illustration has since been generally accepted as a Warhol drawing. A box set of two EPs was also released (catalogue No: WBC 1045).
Keely Smith’s first LP “I Wish You Love” was released on the Capitol label in 1957 and there was a 45 r.p.m. EP with the same cover art. The front cover has a cheezy portrait of a smiling Keely and on the rear cover a drawing of a hand holding a bunch of flowers. The drawing is definitely in the style of Andy Warhol, but he is not known to have had any association with Capitol Records. Further, in 1957 Warhol was an acclaimed commercial artist and many others had adopted his drawing style, so we cannot be absolutely sure that this illustration is by Andy Warhol, but I list in just in case.
Another compilation of Artie Shaw’s tracks from the 30s and 40s was put together by RCA in 1958 with the title “Any Old Time”. The LP had a cover photo by Raymond Jacobs and Warhol’s drawing of a chain of clock faces on the reverse. The EP version hade a slightly different arrangement of the clocks.
I have not been able to find any further 45 r.p.m. discs with Andy Warhol art released in the fifties or sixties. The next one seems to be the promotional EP for The Rolling Stones’ “Love You Live!” album from 1977. The EP, released both as black vinyl EP in a picture sleeve and as a picture disc (according to Guy Minnebach, probably a bootleg), features four of the polaroid pictures Warhol took of the band members biting or licking each other.
There are lots of later seven inch records with Andy Warhol covers and I will follow up the 45 r.p.m. releases from the eighties and after, that have Andy Warhol’s art in future posts. I’d like to thank Guy Minnebach for his constructive cristicism of this post, which has led to some major improvements.