Books in my library which reference Andy Warhol’s record cover art (not in the order I acquired them):
- 1940 – Weinstock, Herbert & Chavez, Carlos (introduction) – “Mexican Music”. Museum of Modern Art, New York. pp 32.
- 1981 – Boström, Hans-Olof & Sörensen Jens-Erik (eds) “Skivomslag” – Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. pp 133.
- 1989 – Warhol, Andy – “Play Book of You S Bruce From 2:30 – 4:00. Editions Auerbach. pp 50.
- 2003 – de Ville, Nick – “Album – Style and Image in Sleeve Design”, Mitchell Beazley, 2003, pp 256.
- 2006 – Bluttal, Steven; Goldsmith, Kenneth – “Andy Warhol – Giant Size”, Phaidon Press, 2006, pp 624.
- 2007 – Hermann, Eva-Meyer – “Andy Warhol: A Guide to 706 Items in 2 Hours 56 Minutes” – Moderna Museet, Stockholm. pp 256.
- 2007 – Rose, Aaron; Deho, Valerio; Husslein, Uwe; de Luca, Fabio. – “Sound Zero” – Damiani. pp 200.
- 2008 – Forrest, Richard -“Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol” – Exhibition catalogue . Piteå Museum.
- 2008 – Maréchal, Paul – “Andy Warhol: The Record Covers, 1949-1987. Catalogue Raisonné” – Prestel. pp 236.
- 2008 – Forrest, Richard – “His Art on His Sleeve” – Record Collector, December 2008.
- 2011 – Martinelli, Bianca – “Andy Warhol Music Show”. Castelvecchi, pp 256 (in Italian).
There were two record shops selling albums imported from America in central London from the late sixties on; One Stop Records in South Moulton Street and Musicland in Berwick Street. Well, it all started for me in the summer of ’67 when I went into One Stop Records – behind HMV’s Oxford Street store. I was a regular visitor there but never did learn the names of the extremely knowledgeable guys who worked there. They sort of knew me as a regular customer, and one summer’s day showed me an album with a banana on the cover. The album was by a band I’d never heard of apparently (according to the record cover) called Andy Warhol. I was corrected that the band was The Velvet Underground & Nico and that the record was something completely psychedelic. So I bought it. My copy was, I was to find out much later, a second pressing – with Eric Emerson’s features on the rear cover airbrushed out. I really did not enjoy the music at first, it was way too jangly and difficult and I was definitely not enamoured of the druggy sound. The next year I was given a US import copy of The Velvet’s album “White Light/White Heat” with the skull cover.
Fast forward four years to April 1971. The pre-release hype for The Rolling Stones’ new album, Sticky Fingers – the first to be released on their own Rolling Stones label – made me dash down to Musicland in Berwick Street to buy a copy in the first week after it was released. The cover, with its working zip, was revolutionary. So, I had three records with cover art by Andy Warhol. In 1971 the Tate Gallery (now The Tate Britain) had an exhibition of Andy Warhol’s art. My particular memory of this retrospective is the Flowers paintings, which I fell in love with.
I moved to Sweden in the autumn of 1971. Ten years later in October 1981, Stockholm’s Nationalmuseum hosted an exhibition of record cover art, entitled simply “Skivomslag” (Record Covers). The exhibition had been put together by Aarhus kunstmuseum and included (assuming I have counted correctly) 717 covers. In the exhibition catalogue, Bo Nilsson wrote what I read as the first description of Warhol’s record cover art and his essay included pictures of seven covers; two by Kenny Burrell, Johnny Griffin’s “The Congregation”, The Velvet Underground & Nico (in colour) and The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” and “Love You Live”. Nilsson also mentions “The Nation’s Nightmare” and the Count Basie album, which he says was entitled “Portrait”. Those were, apparently, all the covers known to be by Warhol at that time. There is an alternative catalogue entitled “Ytans innehåll” (approximately: The surface’s content), with a similar “banana” cover but with the banana’s stem peeled bact to reveal the top of the pink banana beneath. I have the exhibition poster beautifully autographed by Warhol.
On Father’s Day (in Sweden, celebrated in November) the following year (1982) I was given a copy of Diana Ross’ LP “Silk Electric” with it’s Warhol cover. My fourth Warhol cover. Now I had a collection! From then on I decided I would collect every record cover with Andy Warhol’s art. After all, I did not think it would be too difficult – there could not be too many – or so I thought.
There were several more records with cover art by Andy Warhol released in the 1980s, Paul Anka’s “The Painter”, Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha”, John Lennon’s “Menlove Ave” and it was easy to collect these. I even managed to collect all four colour variations of Debbie Harry’s “Rockbird” album, thinking that it had been designed by Warhol. I assumed that the photo of Debbie was one of those Warhol had taken for his Interview magazine. It was only much later that I found out the photo was by Canadian couple “Guzman” (Constance Hansen & Russell Peacock) and that the cover was really designed by Stephen Sprouse.
The advent of the Internet made searching for record covers easy: no more dragging round secondhand record shops in the hope of finding the odd cover I needed. I soon found out that there were many covers designed or illustrated by Warhol from before The Velvet Underground & Nico album. By about 2005 I had found the Kenny Burrell and Johnny Griffin albums with Warhol’s drawings as well as the “Cool Gabriels” LP. Somehow I got to know Guy Minnebach via the ‘Net. He tipped me off on a number of covers such as the Smetterling recording of Chopin’s Nocturnes, Carlos Chavez’s “A Program of Mexican Music”, “Alexander Nevsky” and even sold me his duplicates of “The Nation’s Nightmare”, “WIlliam Tell Overture” 10″ LP. Guy also told me about Klaus Gier’s 2001 German thesis entitled “Andy Warhol’s Record- und Cover Design. I managed to get a copy in May 2008. The covers pictured in the thesis came from collector Klaus Knop’s collection, which included a copy of “Giant Size $1.57 Each” numbered 21/75 pictured on the book’s front and rear cover.
The next book I bought was the giant 320 x 420 x 55 mm “Andy Warhol: Giant Size” published by Phaidon in January 2006. This was the first book that I had come across that included some record covers in a review of Warhol’s art. The book’s title, while confirming the original editions huge dimensions, it also alludes to Warhol’s famous 1963 record cover “Giant Size $1.57 Each”. There was, of course, a picture of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” and also Nico’s “Chelsea Girl” cover and the Count Basie cover.
Though originally published in 2003, I did not buy Nick de Ville’s beautifully researched, large format book “Album – Style and Image in Sleeve Design” until February 2007. Nick de Ville is, of course, a famous cover designer having been involved in designing many of Roxy Music’s covers. His is one of the best books to document great record cover design in a chronological manner, from the beginnings of record production via Alex Steinweiss and his protegé Jim Flora up to the 1990s with a double spread devoted to Andy Warhol. The Left hand page shows “The Velvet Underground & Nico” almost full size while smaller pictures on the right hand page show Kenny Burrell’s “Kenny Burrell”, John Lennon’s “Menlove Ave”, The Rolling Stones’ “Sticky Fingers” and Diana Ross’ “Silk Electric”. De Ville also mentions Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha, Paul Anka’s “The Painter” and the Stones’ “Love You Live” but seems unaware of Warhol’s record covers from before the “The Velvet Underground & Nico” cover.
Stockholm’s Moderna Museet hosted the Warhol retrospective that I had seen at The Haywood Gallery in London in May 2008 and I bought the catalogue “Andy Warhol – A Guide to 706 Items in 2 Hours 56 Minutes”. If I remember correctly, there were 26 album covers shown at the exhibition and the catalogue shows twelve of them. By that time I already had more than twenty six in my collection!
From 1999, I had been associated with the Piteå Dansar & Ler city festival held on the last weekend of July each year. Jan Wimander, for a time the festival’s CEO, and I had discussed putting on an “art exhibition” to broaden the festival’s appeal. Jan knew about my collection of Warhol covers and we discussed showing them at Piteå’s museum, which happened to be just outside the festival area. So, we planned to put on the exhibition to coincide with 2008’s festival. There were several important covers that I did not have to make the list of covers complete and I explained the project to Guy. He was reticent at first, as he had been told of the upcoming “Warhol Live!” exhibition to open in Montreal, Canada, in October 2008. But he agreed to help Jan and me and sent several rare covers to me to be photographed for inclusion in our exhibition. I wrote a catalogue text and catalogues were printed. The exhibition was to run from 23rd July to 31st August 2008. Andy Warhol’s birthday was 6th August and in 2008 he would have been 80, so the exhibition was called “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” Guy Minnebach not only lent me the missing covers, but came to help with the hanging of the covers and to be at the exhibition’s opening.
After the festival I rewrote the catalogue and submitted an article to Record Collector Magazine which was to be published in the December number. However, a month after the “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition closed, a friend told me about a Swedish band called RATFAB (Roland and the Flying Albatross Band) that had had a single released with cover art by Andy Warhol! A sensation! I found two copies quite quickly and sent one to Guy as a “thank you” for his help with the exhibition. I managed to add the cover to the Record Collector article – and the news was out. Early in 2009 I managed to find a third copy but the price had already escalated. This I donated to The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Later, Matt Wrbican, Chief Archivist at the museum wanted a copy of the “Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol!” exhibition catalogue, which I also sent.
Paul Maréchal had published his catalogue raisonné of Andy Warhol’s record covers to coincide with the “Warhol Live!” exhibiiton at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts which ran from 25th September 2008 to 18th January 2009.
Maréchal’s book was a watershed. Although I had a good overview of Warhol’s known record covers, Maréchal had discovered at least one that no one else had seen. He included the promotional box set “Night Beat” – a recording of a pilot radio show about the nighttime activities of a fictitious Chicago reporter. But the RATFAB cover was not included as I had not found out about it until after the book was published. So, there were obviously more Warhol covers yet to be identified.
About this time I found another book that pictured twenty six of Andy Warhol’s record covers. This was Valerio Deho’s “Sound Zero”, from 2007, which had a 3-D picture of “The Velvet Underground & Nico” cover on its front. View the book full on and you see the cover picture with the banana skin on; hold it at an angle and you see the peeled banana! This book was the catalogue of an exhibition held in Merano, Italy, between 9th September 2006 and 7th January 2007 entitled “Art and Music from Pop to Street Art”. The exhibition included Klaus Knop’s collection of Warhol covers (the same collection that Klaus Gier had access to when writing his thesis) as well as a great selection of psychedelic posters from San Fransisco and some street art (though no Banksy).
Sometime around 2006 I bought a copy of a recording of a “Program of Mexican Music” on a 10 inch LP from 1949 illustrated by Andy Warhol. Fellow Warhol Cover Collectors Club member Niklas Lindberg had found a booklet published by the Museum of Modern Art in New York where the concert was held to coincide with an exhibition of “Twenty Centuries of Mexican Art”. The booklet provided an introduction to the works played at the concerts and, surprisingly when considering that it was published in 1940, was easy to find on Amazon and very cheap. So I decided to buy a copy. On page thirteen, was a picture of Aztec musicians playing traditional instruments that had been drawn in the Spanish conquistadors’ Codex Florentinus. Warhol must have used this picture as the basis for his record cover illustration.
Fellow Warhol Cover Collectors Club members Niklas Lindberg and Guy Minnebach tipped me off about an Italian book purporting to be “La prima “discografia” illustrata dedicata al genio della Pop Art” (the first illustrated discography of dedicated to the genius of Pop Art, my translation) by Bianca Martinelli. This book contains photos of Warhol’s covers, many of which are take from Paul Maréchal’s book. It also contains many errors. How does The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night” come to be included. I suppose one could excuse the inclusion of Grant Green’s “Matador” cover, as it DOES look like a Warhol blotted line drawing, but it is by Japanese artists Tanaka and Fujiyama. And Martinelli thinks the “Night Beat” box is by Sam Cooke (admittedly, Sam Cooke DID release an album called “Night Beat”, but it WAS NOT this one)! She also suggests that “The Nation’s Nightmare” came in two colour variations, one brown and one grey. The grey cover is probably only a bleached version of the original brown.
The most recent Warhol cover that I picked up is an unusual CD released in Japan in 1996. It is a double CD with two Mozart recordings on one CD and Mahler’s 5th Symphony on the other. The cover illustration, also printed on each CD, is of an ear, several arrows pointing to the ear and the single word “ear” in Warhol’s handstyle. Guy Minnebach immediately recognised the drawing as coming from a book drawn by Warhol in the 1950s entitled “Play Book of You S Bruce 2:30 – 4:00”. This was a drawing block which Warhol drew at Steven Bruce’s cafe/restaurant Serendipity III in New York, which Warhol often visited. One afternoon he filled his drawing block with portraits of Bruce, the iceman who happened to make a delivery while Andy was there and various features of Bruce’s anatomy, including one ear. The drawing lock had been sold at Sotheby’s for £111000 in 2008 and the drawings had been shown in an exhibition in Germany in 1989 and a book published with all the drawings to accompany the exhibition.
4 thoughts on “Andy Warhol’s record covers in books and magazines.”
Absolutely fantastic post, Richard! Very informative about the books as well as interesting to read how your collection started and how it keeps evolving!
This is fantastic, Richard! I learned a lot of new information.
Thanks, Frank, for your comment. It warms the old cockles (as Bertam Wooster would say). Perhaps I should try to come up with more ways to approach Warhol’s record cover art.