I haven’t had any reason to write about Peter Blake‘s art recently. As far as I have been able to find out, he hasn’t done any record covers since Eric Clapton‘s “I Still Do” album—which was not actually designed by Peter Blake, but Clapton chose to use one of Blake‘s 2015 portraits of him as the cover art.
At last I have something to add to my collection. I saw a print of Peter Blake‘s “Live at Leeds 2” for sale on Ebay and made an offer, which was accepted. The print was an artists’ proof (No. viii/xxv).
As everyone knows, The Who played the Leeds University Refectory on Valentine’s day 1970 and the 3-hour concert was recorded and released only 3 months later on 16th May 1970 as The Who’s “Live at Leeds” album. During preparations for The Who’s upcoming 2006 tour, Andy Kershaw, an alumnus of Leeds University—and who had had a hand in booking the band to play that historic 1970 concert managed to persuade the two remaining original band members to return to the Refectory as part of their planned 2006 tour.
In February 2005 Peter Blake opened a unique gallery dedicated to his music artwork at Leeds University’s School of Music. Among the prints on permanent loan to the gallery are ”Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Band Aid’s ”Do They Know It’s Christmas”, The ”Live Aid” poster design, Paul Weller’s ”Stanley Road” cover art, The Who’s ”Face Dances” as well as albums by Eric Clapton, Brian Wilson and Ian Dury.
I haven’t been able to work out exactly how Sir Peter Blake became involved but suspect that Pete Townsend—a long-time friend of Blake’s—might have suggested that the artist design a poster for the return concert and Blake turned to the cover art of the original “Live at Leeds” album for inspiration. The gatefold cover of the original “Live at Leeds” album was designed by Graphreaks (Wikipedia credits Beadrall Sutcliffe with the design). Blake took the cover design and added the date of the original concert (14.02.70) at the top and that of the return (17.06.06) at the bottom and a large red “2” at bottom left.
Peter Blake made a limited edition print of the design–a silk screen using 14 colours plus glaze in an the edition of 250 + 25 artist proofs–and published in 2006. Peter Blake donated a copy to Leeds University’s collection of his prints.
Back to my print.
The seller in the U.K. sent the print rolled, inside a large sheet of 200 g paper and wrapped in bubble plastic all put inside a wellpapp outer. There was no poster tube to prevent crushing and—not surprisingly—the package arrived crushed with the print considerably creased. After email discussions with the seller, I was advised to lodge a ”damaged item” report with Ebay, which I did sending photos of the packaging and the damaged print. And to my total amazement, the following day Ebay refunded the total cost of the print and shipping! So the print has cost me nothing!
My collection of Peter Blake prints.
The ”Live at Leeds 2” print joins my collection of Peter Blake prints started in 1968 when I bought ”Babe Rainbow” at Gear in Carnaby Street for, I think, 30/- (£1.50 to those of you who don’t remember predecimal currency). Wikipedia says it cost £1.00, but I think I paid 30/-.
I went to the Tate Gallery Peter Blake retrospective in 1983 and bought the catalogue which contained a limited edition print of the ”Owl & the Pussy Cat” print, which comes in an envelope stating ”Each reproduction has been signed by the artist”! The print was only included in the first 12,000 copies of the catalogue.
In 2009, when Jan Wimander, then director of Piteå Dansar och Ler Festival, and I decided to put on an exhibition of Peter Blake’s record cover art, called ”Peter Blake ’Pop’ Art” at Piteå Museum. We wanted to show LP covers but two of Blake’s covers–The John Peel compilation album ”Right Time, Wrong Speed, 1977-1987” and The Blockheads’ ”Staring Down the Barrel” were only available on CD so we wanted larger images for the show. We found a copy of Peter Blake’s portrait of the late John Peel that he created for Warner Brothers Music for the cover of Peel’s CD on Ebay. This was a limited edition of 45 copies–we got No. 5. I also approached The Blockheads to try to get hold of a promotional poster for their 2009 album ”Staring Down the Barrel”. I was told they didn’t have one, but referred to Peter Blake’s printers The Coriander Press and after month or so an artist proof of the cover art, signed by Peter Blake, arrived just in time for the exhibition.
In 2010, the late Daniel Brant, director of the A and D Gallery in London’s Chiltern Street, contacted me and asked if I would like to display my collection of Peter Blake’s record covers in the Gallery that would be hosting the launch of a new series of Peter Blake’s prints ”I Love London” and ”I Love Recycling”. John Wimander and I both flew over for the opening and met Sir Peter, who signed my ”Babe Rainbow” print as well as a book and the catalogue of our Piteå exhibition. We were both given prints of the ”I Love London” and ”I Love Recycling”!
So now my collection contains
– Babe Rainbow
– The Owl & the Pussycat
– John Peel
– The Blockhead’s ”Staring Down the Barrel”
– I Love London
– I Love Recycling, and (finally)
– Live at Leeds 2
A further Blake record cover art.
While researching the “Live at Leeds 2” print I came across another collaboration that I probably should have included in my collection of Peter Blake‘s record cover art. In 2007 Brian Wilson recorded his “That Lucky Old Sun” album and in 2009 Genesis Publications produced a lavish box set including a CD of the album, a book signed by both Brian Wilson and Peter Blake and 12 limited edition Peter Blake prints illustrating the songs. This deluxe production was produced in an edition of 1000 copies.
I shall have to start saving my pennies to get hold of a copy.