I have been collecting record and CD covers designed illustrated or handmade by the artist known as Banksy, as well as record and CD covers that use his art since 2007. My list of records and CDs has grown steadily and now totals eighty-one (including a few doubles).
Sometime early on in my search for Banksy covers I saw a list on the Urban Art Association website that pictured a CD that I have been looking for ever since without success. I had a poor quality picture of the cover image and discussed it with a Banksy/street art collector i know. He mailed me a picture of a Banksy painting that formed the background to the CD cover image and I (as is my wont) made an attempt at reproducing the cover and I sent my reproduction to him and within a few short weeks he had located the missing CD. Someday I will provide a picture but not yet…
However, that is not the only find to arrive in recent weeks. In December 2020 another Bansky collector, Tasso von Haussen, alerted me to an Ebay advert for a September 1999 issue of Sleazenation Magazine that had a CD attached. The CD, The Next XI, is a compilation of tracks put together be Wall of Sound Records with cover art by Banksy.
This is an early Banksy cover that is a great addition to my collection.
I discussed the various covers for Blur’s 2003 Think Tank promo CDs in a recent post and said that I had seen pictures of a rare variation with a baby’s handprint instead of the Petrolhead stamp but never actually seen one and I wondered if it was genuine. Well, now I have a copy.
I got it from a collector in Newcastle who, many years ago had bought a lot of the standard Petrolhead promo CDs and found this unusual one among them. So now I have three variations of the Think Tank promo:
Finding the hand print CD cover makes me wonder if there might also be a variation with a baby’s foot print? So — with the help of Photoshop — I made myself one to keep until a real one turns up (if it ever does).
Now I wonder if my collection of record and CD covers by the artist known as Banksy is complete. I have previously said that I have a complete collection, but I have learned the hard way never to say that any collection is complete — something new always turns up as soon as one says one has everything.
In Part One I mentioned that many, if not the majority, of Shrigley’s record, cassette and CD cover art has been produced as limited editions. I will present several more here.
First off, is a various artists compilation called Worried Noodles. This double CD and book is a tribute to David Shrigley’s Worried Noodles: The Empty Cover book published in 2005 and uses the same cover art. Thirty-one of the poems in the Worried Noodles book were set to music and recorded by a variety of artists ranging from the famous to the (for me) obscure: David Byrne, Franz Ferdinand, Aidan Moffat & The Best Ofs, R.Stevie Moore, Alig Fedder (who will reappear later) and Deerhoof are the artists I’ve heard of.
Next came what I understand to be a limited edition seven-inch single called White Night by a band called White Night, which consisted of David Shrigley and Glaswegian friends.
There are two more releases from 2008. First, the A Brighter Beat/Point of Light seven-inch single taken from Malcolm Middleton’s album of the same name.
The other is Jason Mraz’s Album We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. Released on CD, there is a limited edition three-sided double LP with etching on side four. Even the inner sleeve is doodled by Shrigley.
There was only one Shrigley cover in 2009 — for a ten-inch mini album by the Parenthetical Girls, an experimental pop band formed in Everett, Washington, and then based in Portland, Oregon. Six of the eight tracks were written by Ivor Cuttler.
Gallerie Feiber in Berlin held an exhibition of Shrigley’s art in 2011 and releases a limited edition double seven-inch set with cover art by Shrigley and pink vinyl records. Disc one was by Forced to Speak With Others (i.e. David Shrigley) and disk two was by Thee Oh Sees. The two singles were bound together with a pink banner. The edition was limited to 200 copies initialled and numbered by Shrigley.
Shrigley also had an exhibition in 2011 at London’s Hayward Gallery and published a book called Brain Activity which included a two-track seven-inch single.
The following year (2012) Castle Face Records released a version of The Velvet Underground & Nico album with each track played by a different artist. They got David Shrigley to design the cover.
Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement fame) got together with friends in 2013-4 to rerecord Can’s breakthrough album Ege Bamyasi, which was released as a limited edition for Record Store Day in April 2014. The European version was pressed on red vinyl and the American on green vinyl, but both had the David Shrigley cover art.
Only one of the seventeen records, cassettes and CDs/CDrs released beween 2013 and 2020 isn’t part of a limited edition. That is a CD of Malcolm Middleton’s and David Shrigley’s cooperation called Music + Words. However, the couple produced a limited edition LP (1000 copies) of the work with handmade cover featuring Malcolm Middleton’s hand print on one side and David Shrigley’s on the other (don’t ask me which is which.)
David Shrigley has cooperated with Scottish guitarist and producer Iain Shaw on several releases. The first was a limited edition cassette called Awesome on which Shaw provided music to Shrigley’s lyrics. There is also a limitd edition CDr of the recording.
And in 2016 the pair released another collaboration called Listening to Slayer. This was released on a limited seven-inch EP, a limited edition cassette and a limited edition CDr.
Iain Shaw originated in Stornoway, Scotland, and currently lives in Glasgow. He has adopted the alias Lord Stornoway and used this name in his latest collaboration with David Shrigley — an album entitled Don’t Worry that was released in conjunction with Shrigley’s exhibition at the BQ Gallery in Berlin and pressed on luscious pink vinyl. Shrigley also produced a limited edition seven-inch single for the gallery called I Am an Actor.
Finally, there is a limited edition cassette single by Daphne and Celeste called A.L.T.O. with cover art by David Shrigley.
I also have a couple of promo CD-Rs of the Don’t Worry album and a couple of singles from the Listening to Slayer EP.
There is a limited edition book with an LP called Goat Music that I still haven’t been able to get, but hopefully that will turn up soon.
David Shrigley’ is very popular and his paintings, sculptures and posters are becoming highly collectible and consequently expensive. However, he is — as he has admitted — obsessed by records and these are relatively inexpensive at the moment, though many of the limited editions are already very difficult to find. Perhaps this collection of Shrigley’s record, cassette and CD art might turn out to be a sound investment.
Collecting David Shrigley’s record cover art has proved much easier than I had thought it would be. My main research engines have been Ebay and Discogs plus some targeted Internet searches. In my last post on Shrigley’s record cover art I said I had identified twenty-one records. CDs and cassettes with his art. I have been working hard since then and my tally is now up to forty-two records, tapes and CDs/CDrs plus three items that are not strictly records/record covers. These last include David Shrigley’s limited edition I Am Deep in Thought print included with David Grubbs 2003 Cosmic Structure LP, Shrigley’s 2005 book Worried Noodles: The Empty Cover and his I Collect Records Records Frisbee. The frisbee was created in 2014 after David Shrigley’s Life and Life Drawing exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. Despite these not being true record covers I decided to include them in my Shrigley collection.
Many, if not the majority, of David Shrigley’s record, CD and cassette covers are limited editions. These are often produced by museums or art galleries in conjunction with exhibitions of Shrigley’s art. However, the first three releases that I have been able to identify (from 2002-3) are two CDs by the Scottish band Ballboy — A Guide for the Daylight Hours and The Sash My Father Wore And Other Stories and the cover for Blur’s Good Song DVD (the only release from Blur’s Think Tank album that had cover art by someone other than Banksy.
In 2005 Shrigley allowed the group The Singing Adams to use his Untitled (Wild Animal) print design on the cover of their 2004 CD Problems.
Shrigley’s next release was a limited edition LP (500 copies) entitled Forced to Speak With Others which was also released on CD.
And this was followed by a very limited seven-inch single called Ding Dong released in connection with David Shrigley’s exhibition at the Dundee Contemporary Art museum in 2006. Side one has the “ding” sound of a doorbell and side two the “dong” sound.
Two other seven-inch singles appeared in 2006; A split single with Belle & Sebastian’s Casaco Marron (Latenitetales) coupled with David Shrigley’s When I was a Little Girl, and a picture disc The Perfect Me by the American band Deerhoof. Designer and record cover artist Jan Lankisch who was working at Tomlab records introduced David to Deerhoof and he designed this single and agreed to make the cover for Deerhoof’s forthcoming Friend Opportunity album as well as a further picture disc single Matchbook Seeks Maniac (Dedication Mix) / MaKko Shobu.
The Friend Opportunity album contained twelve alternative cover designs produced by David Shrigley.
There would be three more releases in 2007. Malcolm Middleton, a member of Arab Strap (among other constellations) recorded his A Brighter Beat album released on both LP and CD. The CD came in a standard issue and a limited edition. All three had cover art by Shrigley.
The final release of 2007 was by R. Stevie Moore a prolific American musician/guitarist who put music to poems from Shrigley’s Worried Noodles book and released a cassette and CDr of these tracks called Shrigley Field. The CD was released in a limited edition of 20 numbered copies signed by David Shrigley.
I suspect that this cover is R. Stevie Moore’s rendition of David Shrigley’s portrait of Moore that appeared in BOMB magazine (No 101, July 13, 2010).
I shall continue the story of David Shrigley’s record cover art in the next post.
This post is going to be rather philosophical. Why collect record cover art? Well, I started as I was interested in music and I found that I would prefer to buy a record with music that I liked if it had a more attractive cover. My collection began with a collection of cover art by Vaughan Oliver and his collectives 23 Envelope and V23. I built up a super collection of releases primarily on the 4AD label — not only records and CDs — but also a large number of posters. I had all the really rare items designed by Vaughan Oliver and Chris Bigg including the famous Lonely Is an Eyesore wooden box and two copies of the Lilliput CD promo book. Vaughan Oliver autographed both the Eyesore box and a Lilliput book when I went on a pilgrimage to his studio in South London in 2001. I sold my whole Vaughan Oliver collection in 2010-2013.
I started collecting Andy Warhol’s record cover art in 1967, when I bought the Velvet Underground & Nico album at One Stop Records in London’s South Moulton Street. I confess I didn’t realise its greatness until a couple of decades later, but that didn’t stop me from buying White Light / White Heat the following year — again on US import at One Stop. So I had two Andy Warhol covers. That was the start of the collection. I bought the Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers when it came out in April 1971 and their Love You Live in 1977. I got my fifth Warhol cover in 1982, when my family bought me Diana Ross’s Silk Electric as a Fathers’ Day present. From there I started looking for Warhol covers and gradually (and with the help of ace Warhol collector, Guy Minnebach) managed to collect every known Warhol cover by 2008, when Guy and I curated an exhibition of Warhol’s record cover art at Piteå Museum in northern Sweden arranged to celebrate what would have been Andy Warhol’s 80th birthday on 6th August 2008.
At the same time I had collected a representative collection of Peter Blake’s record cover art, including records, posters and books with a few rarities. I also noticed that I had several records with covers designed by Klaus Voormann; the Beatles’ Revolver (of course), Manfred Mann’s As Is, the Bee Gees first album and all three Beatles Anthology albums (on vinyl) and, when Klaus visited Stockholm in 2003 he kindly signed several album covers for me. So I continued collecting his covers, too, and now have almost every cover he has designed.
Around 2008, my son-in-law wondered if I would like to invest in a print by a street artist called Banksy, who had an exhibition in Stockholm. I passed on that (stupid, or what?) But, I had seen Blur live at Hultsfred’s Festival in 1996 and had all their albums and I had even bought the Think Tank LP in 2003 — my first Banksy cover. Then, in around 2008, I happened to find a couple of record covers designed by Banksy and found a contact on the Internet who was trying to offload his collection of Banksy-designed record covers. They were cheap at that time and I bought quite a few. As my Bansky collection grew, so did the prices for the rare items. A DJ, who was about to get married and needed money, offered me a copy of Röyksopp’s Melody A.M. promo double LP with the Bansky-sprayed cover for what was an exorbitant amount back than, but which I’m today glad I paid. I later added both versions of Banksy’s / Danger Mouse’s Paris Hilton CD (the original first issue and the reissued second release.) Since then my Banksy collection has been exhibited in a number of Banksy retrospectives.
I started to collect Andy Warhol’s record cover art as I am a Warhol fan. I have always loved his art and found I couldn’t afford to buy any original works. But his record covers were affordable and easy to store, much easier that hanging prints or paintings. I started collecting his covers when they were affordable and could even trade rare covers for others that I didn’t have. I had no idea that many would become valuable. I have been lucky to find several covers signed by Warhol to add to my collection.
A similar situation has happened with my Banksy collection. Bought first for the art and in an attempt to collect a complete collection of Banksy’s official and inofficial covers I found that I had made an investment. I have no idea what my collection is currently worth.
But what about my other collections? My Peter Blake collection of record and CD covers could still be bought for only a little more that I originally bought the covers for. Similarly, I don’t think there would be much interest in my collection of Klaus Voormann’s covers; although I treasure them both.
I have recently started to collect record, cassette and CD covers designed by David Shrigley. A couple of years ago, my wife and I had a wonderful meal at Sketch, a London restaurant who’s walls were decorated with Shrigley’s paintings and posters. As I have said in a previous post, I was lucky to get David Shrigley to sign my copy of Castle Face Record’s version of Velvet Underground & Nico cover, and so started my collection of David Shrigley’s record cover art. His posters and prints are now well beyond my budget, but his record, tape and CD sleeves are still very affordable. I wonder if they will one day, like my Warhol and Banksy covers, prove to be a sound investment, too.
I should emphasise, though, that I didn’t start collecting record cover art as an investment, but because I liked the art. That it has proved to be an investment only adds icing to the cake.
Last October, I posted an article about Andy Warhol’s unreleased cover art and described my attempts to reproduce the Billie Holiday, Volume 3 covers. Warhol made four designs for a possible Billie Holiday EP or LP entitled Volume 3.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Billie Holiday’s birth, Guy Minnebach published his research on the four covers. The first he found from a sale catalogue, it seems that two are in the Warhol Museum’s collection and the fourth was shown at the Robert Miller Gallery (New York) in 2011 according to Olivia Feal‘s blog.
A careful look at these covers shows that they are really collages — various bits of paper stauck together to make the finished design and then painted. Song titles are written in Warhol’s hand style. So, when were they made? Guy Minnebach, in his 2015 blog post, suggests that they were made in the early fifties, about the time he illustrated Margarita Madrigal’s book Magic Key to Spanish (published in 1953.) He points out that all the titles, were recorded in the 1930s for Columbia Records or its subsidiaries. I speculate that the covers may have been made later, towards the end of the fifties when Billie Holiday had left Columbia Records. Perhaps we will never know for sure.
I realize that these designs are unlikely ever to grace a real record and so I decided to try to make reproductions of Warhol’s designs. I’m in good company here. Many artists have reproduced Warhol’s art, starting early in the late sixties with Elaine Sturtevant’s copies of well-known Warhol works and continuing up to the present with Richard Pettibone’s miniature reproductions and Gavin Turk’s reinvention of Warhol’s Fright Wig Self Portrait.
So here are the results:
These are my renditions of Warhol’s originals.
My printer has managed to print up a limited edition of ten copies of each cover as ten-inch covers.
I am very happy with the results and to be able to add these to my other reproductions, such as the Progressive Piano ten-inch LP and seven-inch that I made several years ago. Wouldn’t it be nice if Columbia Records actually issued these records?
Record cover art has become a recognised field of collecting and exhibitions of record cover art are now quite common. Some of us collect specific artists, some collect a particular type of music (heavy metal or hip hop seem popular) while others collect more generally and have collections solely based on record covers’ artistic merit. The first collector I came in contact with was Guy Minnebach, who has an amazing collection of Andy Warhol’s record cover art. Through him I got to know to know Frank Edwards who at first collected Warhol’s record covers but later branched out to collect more generally, including a wide variety of covers by various artists. Frank Edwards’s collections have been exhibited at the Cranbrook Art Museum.
As a follower of Mike Goldstein’s Album Cover Hall of Fame blog I have had the opportunity to see a number of record cover art exhibitions online and Mike recently tipped me off about one he thought I should have seen — the Visual Vinyl exhibition at Schunk, Heerlen, The Netherlands, which ran from 28th November 2015 — 6th March 2016. Mike had just got hold of the exhibition catalogue. A beautiful 232 page hard cover book. The exhibition, curated by Lene ter Haar and Cynthia Jordens, showed hundreds of record covers from Jan van Toorn’s amazing collection ranging from the commonplace, like Andy Warhol’s Velvet Underground & Nico Banana cover to more obscure releases by the Fluxus group. Many very rare covers were included and the book has pictures of a whole host of them. In the book’s final pages Jan van Toorn describes his collecting philosophy and then presents a discography of his collection listing 2200 covers ordered alphabetically by designer/artist. You won’t find any record industry designers — no Steinweiss, Jim Flora, Aubrey Powell, Roger Dean — but Peter Blake & Jann Haworth (Sgt. Pepper) and Richard Hamilton (The Beatles) are in. So are Banksy and Damien Hirst. Art bands like Sonic Youth get included.
Jan van Toorn lists several covers by David Shrigley in his discography, but none is pictured in the book. He also has one of Andy Warhol’s Giant Size $1.57 Each covers from the numbered limited edition of 75 copies made by Billy Klüver for German gallery owner Heiner Friedrich in 1971.
However, van Toorn doesn’t seem to know the history behind this record cover. He suggests that these 75 covers were all that Warhol produced. In fact, it was Swedish engineer turned artists’ assistant. Billy Klüver who had made the eleven interviews with the pop artists included in the Popular Image Exhibition in Washington D.C. in 1963 who asked Warhol to help make covers for the LPs of the interviews that he had had pressed for the exhibition (at the show, they were sold in envelopes designed by Jim Dine, together with the exhibition catalogue.) Klüver obviously had records over and in 1963 he and Warhol screen printed hundreds of covers, some with white backgrounds, others with green, red, orange or green spray-painted backgrounds that Billy Klüver took charge of. When Heiner Friedrich, a German gallery owner, asked for a limited edition, Klüver took 75 white covers with records and asked Warhol to sign and number them and Friedrich sold them at his gallery. Klüver later sold copies of the coloured covers, some with records, some without. And a few of the white variety were sold at Andy Warhol’s first international retrospective at Stockholm’s Moderna Museet in January-February 1968.
The Visual Vinyl book is a great addition to my library.
David Shrigley is a hugely popular artist, sculptor and poet. He has recorded a number of singles, albums, CDs and cassettes with a variety of coworkers. Other artists have recorded his poems. As I wrote in a recent post, I first came into contact with Shrigley’s art when I bought Castle Face Record’s cover of the Velvet Underground & Nico‘s seminal album, for which Shrigley had re-imagined Andy Warhol’s Banana cover.
Since then I have so far come across twenty-one records, books (with records), cassettes and CDs that feature Shrigley’s conceptual art.
A Guide for the Daylight Hours
Forced to Speak With Others
The Perfect Me
Hallam Foe (Soundtrack)
White Night (7-inch picture disc)
We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things.
David Shrigley / Thee Oh Sees
Gallerie Fieber edition (2 x 7-inch singles)
Brain Activity (book + 7-inch single)
Castle Face & Friends
Velvet Underground & Nico
Stephen Malkmus & Friends
Can’s Ege Bamyasi
Iain Shaw & David Shrigley
I Am an Actor (7-inch picture disc)
Malcolm Middleton & David Shrigley
Music + Words
Iain Shaw & David Shrigley
Listening to Slayer (7-inch EP)
Lord Stornaway & David Shrigley
Don’t Worry (pink vinyl 12″ LP)
Goat Music (Book + 12″ LP)
David Shrigley & Régis Laugier
Play Something Awful
David Shrigley’s discography
Several of Shrigley’s records were released in association with exhibitions of his work in galleries and museums. The earliest release that I have thus far found that features Shrigley’s art is for a 2002 CD A Guide for the Daylight Hours by Ballboy. Paul Coombs tipped me off about the second David Shrigley cover for Blur’s Good Song DVD release. David Shrigley had directed the music video and drew the cover art for the DVD single.
In 2006 Shrigley released an LP and CD entitled Forced to Speak With Others: the LP included a poster. The same year he released a seven inch single, Ding Dong, that played a doorbell’s DING on side A and the same doorbell’s DONG on side B. Brilliant conceptual art! This single was released in connection with Shrigley’s exhibition at the Dundee Contemporary Arts museum. In December 2006, Deerhoof released a picture disc single, The Perfect Me, from their forthcoming Friend Opportunity album and original copies contained twelve different cover variations which Shrigley painted .
Three releases with Shrigley’s cover art appeared in 2007: Deehoof’s Friend Opportunity in January and a soundtrack collection CD called Hallam Foe. In addition a book with a series of tracks by a variety of artists recording of Shrigley’s lyrics called Worried Noodles was released. Shrigley had had an exhibition at the Center for Curatorial Studies’ Bard Museum between September 30 – December 14, 2001. Apparently the museum released a book called Worried Noodles in the form of an LP record, though it only contained a card printed to look like an LP.
More recent exhibitions include one at the BQ Gallery in Berlin in 2018. The Gallery had already released Shrigley’s I Am an Actor 7-inch picture disc single in 2013 and released an LP for this exhibition called Don’t Worry. This was a further collaboration with guitarist Iain Shaw.
Probably the rarest of Shrigley’s exhibition releases is the split release together with the band Thee Oh Sees (a.k.a Osees), released as a limited edition (200 copies) double 7-inch on pick vinyl in special packaging drawn by Shrigley.
I suspect that David Shrigley is as obsessed with records as I am. He has designed a frisbee with the text I Collect Records — I Am Obsessed With them.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite a long time. I bought Blur’s Think Tank album on vinyl and as a limited CD when it came out in October 2003. I also managed to find the promotional CD of the album with the now famous handstamped “Petrolhead” logo. Petrolhead even appeared stamped on the label of a white label, promotional 12″,
When I saw this almost central stamp on the CD I wasn’t really convinced that the logo was a handstamped motif and thought it was probably printed. However, I had seen many copies online with the stamp in different places that convinced me that the logo must have been handstamped. I had heard about some copies of the promo CD that didn’t have the Petrolhead stamp, but I hadn’t actually seen one until a new acquaintance, Paul Coombs, sold me a copy together with another copy of the CD promo with the stamp.
Then there is a rumour of another version of the Think Tank promo CD that has a pink baby’s handprint (or in some cases a pink baby’s footprint.)
However, I’ve never actually seen a physical version of this, only the image online. Can anyone verify that this version actually exists?
I don’t like to comment on people’s appearance, but David Shrigley is about ten centimetres taller than me. He is well-known for his often comical drawings and artworks. He was born in Glasgow, studied art at the Glasgow School of Art and has had many solo shows both in the U.K. and internationally. He had an exhibition at Stockholm’s Spritmuseum from 27 September to 28 March, 2019 where he filled the exhibition space with inflatable swans. It was quite exciting to see the twenty-or-so giant swans slowly inflate and raise their heads and then slowly deflate again. Shrigley attended the opening and the closing of the exhibition and I made sure I would be on the final day.
My interest in David Shrigley’s art was peaked when I discovered that he had designed the cover to Castle Face & Friends’ rendition of the Velvet Underground & Nico’s eponymous album in 2012.
To round off the evening David Shrigley offered to design tattoos for anyone attending and many people let him draw little figures on arms, legs or anywhere they wished. Then a tattoo artist fixed the designs permanently. Somehow I didn’t manage to get a tattoo, but I did manage to get David to sign my LP cover.
Just recently I bought David Shrigley & Régis Laugier’s Play Something Awful LP with cover design by David. I realised that he’s been involved in writing lyrics as well as designing record and CD covers. He wrote lyrics for the San Francisco band Deerhoof’s Friend Opportunity LP in 2007 and even did the cover for Jason Mraz’s 2008 We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things LP/CD.
There are a few rare covers that Shrigley has designed. The one I would most like to get is Stephen Malkmus & Friends Can’s Ege Bambyasi LP released for record Store Day 2013. I’m sorry I missed it.
I’ll return to David Shrigley’s record cover art in a future post as I research his designs further.
I first saw Eve Babitz’s name on the Buffalo Springfield Again album in 1967 and again on the Retrospective: The Best of Buffalo Springfield (1969). She also took the photograph of Linda Ronstadt for the cover of Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel LP (1974). Discogs has a list of eighteen covers that Eve Babitz has either designed, illustrated or photographed (although two were in recent collections.) I had a few of them, including Heart Like a Wheel, The Byrds (Untitled) and, of course, all the Buffalo Springfield albums. There were also other covers including Noel Harrison’s 1968 album Santa Monica Pier, Earth Opera’s self-named album from 1968 and Danny O’Keefe’s album titled Danny O’Keefe from 1971. She also designed the cover for Leon Russell’s Hank Williams is Back, Vol I.
However, I knew nothing about Eve Babitz until I recently heard a radio programme on Swedish Radio that outlined her life and work (only a passing mention of her record cover design, though) focusing mainly on the resurgence of interest in her writing. Eve was born in May 1943 to Sol and Mae Babitz. Her father was a classical violinist, of Russian Jewish descent and friend of Igor Stravinsky, who became Eve’s godfather, and her mother, an artist, had cajun descent.
Through her parents, Eve met many Hollywood stars and people from the music and art worlds and she was known for having affairs with many soon-to-be famous people. But she became best known for her writing, as Wikipedia says: Her articles and short stories have appeared in Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Esquire magazines. She is the author of several books including Eve’s Hollywood; Slow Days, Fast Company; Sex and Rage; Two By Two; and L.A. Woman. Transitioning to her particular blend of fiction and memoir beginning with Eve’s Hollywood, Babitz’s writing of this period is indelibly marked by the cultural scene of Los Angeles during that time, with numerous references and interactions to the artists, musicians, writers, actors, and sundry other iconic figures that made up the scene in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.
Babitz’s first claim to notoriety came when she crashed the 1963 opening of the exhibition Pop Art: New Painting of Common Objects at the Pasadena Art Museum. Artists included Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and Marcel Duchamp. Babitz had affair with the Gallery’s head, Walter Hopps, and Hopps had forbidden Babitz to attend as his wife would be there. Babitz was invited by a friend and asked if she would play chess with Marcel Duchamp and she agreed only appearing in an overcoat that she dropped to sit nude to play the game.
Apparently, however, Duchamp didn’t notice Babitz’s nakedness and concentrated on the game, going on to win.
Eve Babitz was severely burned in an accident in 1997. She was driving her car trying to light a cigar when she dropped a lighted match into her lap igniting her dress and causing her 30 percent third degree burns to the lower part of her body and legs. She became a recluse thereafter.
There has been a resurgence of interest in Babitz’s writing in recent years though it is her record cover design that most fascinates me. She knew Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic Records, who, presumably, gave her the opportunity to design covers for that label, though she also did covers for Capitol Records (Linda Ronstadt), Warner Brothers and Reprise Records (Eric Anderson, Noel Harrison), and Elektra Records (Earth Opera, Lord Buckley), Columbia records (The Byrds).
Another indication of Babitz’s fame comes from a band calling themselves Misery Loves Company which released a CD in 2006 called All About Eve Babitz, with a cover picture recreating that famous chess match! A CD I must try to get hold of.