Tag Archives: Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton’s “24 Nights” Revisited

I can’t help it but I’ve sort of become obsessed with this recording and its many versions. I must apologise to Eric Clapton‘s myriad of fans, but my interest is not in the music but in Peter Blake‘s cover art. I have described this in a previous post.

Eric Clapton performed a total of 42 shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1990 and 1991. All were recorded but Clapton was not satisfied with the 1990 concerts and “24 Nights” included recordings from various nights between 5th February and 9th March (the 24 nights in the record’s title). Its primary release form was a double CD, released on 8th October 1991, just seven months after Eric Clapton concluded the 24 shows. The album was simultaneously released on double LP and double cassette–both these being pressed in Germany.Warner Brothers Records also produced a 73 x 31 cm promotional lithograph with Peter Blake’s drawings from the “24 Nights” sessions.
24Nights-promo poster

Perhaps it is important to add that while Peter Blake did the drawings used on the cover of the album, the design group Wherefore Art (David Costa) were responsible for the final design/layout of the cover art.

I also posted a description of Genesis Publication’s boxed set “24 Nights – The Limited Edition: The Music of Eric Clapton-The Drawings of Peter Blake” published in 1991 and mentioned how this project led to a long-term friendship between musician and artist that has resulted in several more record covers. I have also just found out that David Costa‘s Wherefore Art design bureau assisted Genesis Publications in the design of the limited edition box set of “24 Nights“.

My collection includes the double LP and a couple of singles from the album as well as the Genesis Publications’ Limited Edition. In 2009 I curated an exhibition of Peter Blake‘s record cover art at Piteå Museum, produced in association with Jan Wimander and Piteå Dansar och Ler festival. Sometime in the months preceding the opening of the exhibition I came across thirteen prints of drawings by Peter Blake that were obviously related to the “24 Nights” release, but I had no idea how, or where they came from.

Having only bought the Genesis Publications’ version in February 2016, I could check the prints against the pages in the Scrapbook of Peter Blake‘s drawings and photographs (by Peter Blake, Graham Salter and Brian Roylance) in the set. My thirteen prints were single-sided and were copies of pages in the “Scrapbook“. Even the paper quality resembled that in the book. However, all the Scrapbook‘s pages were printed on both sides, so my prints could not have been cut out of one of the books.

I have not been able to find out any more about the prints, or where they came from, but they make an interesting addition to my Peter Blake collection.

The Genesis Publications limited edition box also contained another book “Commentary” by Derek Taylor, a pack of memorabilia (plectra, guitar strings , badge, backstage pass etc.) and a folder with two CDs of the “24 Nights” recordings including three extra tracks– ‘No Alibis‘, ‘I Shot the Sheriff‘, ‘Layla’ – orchestra introduction’— purported not to be available elsewhere.

In my search for more record covers with Peter Blake‘s art I discovered that Reprise Records, to whom Clapton was under contract, had released a two-track 7″single from the “24 Nights” album (“Wonderful Tonight/Edge of Darkness“) with cover art by Peter Blake. A few months ago I stumbled across a six-track, “collectors edition” CD EP  “Wonderful Tonight” that I had not heard of previously that had the same cover art as the 7″ single. The remaining tracks on the CD were: “No Alibis”, “I Shot the Sheriff”, “‘Layla’ – orchestra introduction” and “Cocaine” and a second version of “Wonderful Tonight”— all from the “24 Nights” sessions! Thus it was possible for collectors to obtain the three, so called “exclusive” tracks from the Box set for a considerably more modest price.

Wonderful Tonight Collectors CD-fr
The cover of the Collectors Edition CD EP of “Wonderful Tonight”.

Just as another piece of information, Clapton had released a version of “No Alibis” recorded on his “Journeyman” tour on a single in March 1990–before his first series of Albert Hall concerts.

And, then there were two bootleg CDs of recordings from the “24 Nights” sessions. Beano records released a CD of the 5th February 1991 concert entitled “24 Nights-First Night, 5th February 1991” and another CD was issued of the fourth night’s concert at which George Harrison had been guest artist. This was a CD-ROM with no record company identified.

I think this just about exhausts what I have been able to find out about the recordings of the “24 Nights” album. I think I can now move on.

Peter Blake and Eric Clapton’s “24 Nights”

During the past few months I have been concentrating on Sir Peter Blake’s record cover art and trying to do some in-depth research to find out how his record covers came about, who made the commissions, which techniques he used, upon which photographs were illustrations based and any other facts, relevant or not. I have tried to contact the artists involved where possible. I have also nurtured a lust to get hold of the one item of Peter Blake‘s record cover art that I had not managed to find. I refer to the Genesis Publication’s set “24 Nights –  The Limited Edition. Music by Eric Clapton / Drawings by Peter Blake“. This box set included two books – a “Scrapbook“, an A4 sized book of Peter Blake‘s drawings and photographs and a 58-page “Commentary” by Derek Taylor – some “memorabilia” comprising a badge, guitar strings, four plectra and a backstage pass from the Journeyman tour and two photographs of Eric Clapton. This set was published in a numbered edition of 3,500 copies as well as a further 200 copies numbered in Roman numerals “for review purposes”. All copies were signed by both Peter Blake and Eric Clapton. Published in 1991, it soon sold out.

Genesis-24 Nights-fr.jpg

The cast:
Eric Clapton (born 30th March 1945)- legendary guitarist and lover of the Blues.
Peter Blake (born 25th June 1932) – equally legendary artist.
Derek Taylor (1932-2008) – Journalist, author, friend of the above and former press officer for The Beatles.
Brian Roylance (1945-2005) – founder of Genesis Publications and friend of all three above.
Roger Forrester (born August 1949) – Eric Clapton’s manager until 1998.

The 24 night series of concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall were to be the finale to Eric Clapton‘s “Journeyman” world tour that played 153 concerts in 78 cities around the world over 14 months and were seen by almost 2.5 million fans. The tour was a promotional tour for Eric’s 1989 album “Journeyman” and his record company Reprise Records, a Warner Brothers subsidiary, planned a live album to be released after the tour. Eric Clapton knew Brian Roylance (1945-2005) the founder of Genesis Publications and suggested a documentation of the tour. Warner Brothers commissioned Peter Blake to paint a portrait of Eric Clapton, and wanted three other artists to do the same for an album to be called “Four Faces of Eric Clapton” but in the end only Peter Blake was commissioned instead to draw four portraits. Peter Blake had not met Eric at this time.

The Journeyman tour started in Birmingham on January 14th 1990 and ended at the Royal Albert Hall on March 9th 1991. There was a break for Christmas from 13th December 1990 until 31st January 1991 when it would resume in Dublin. The band reconvened in Dublin earlier to rehearse. Brian Roylance wanted Eric Clapton‘s longtime friend Derek Taylor (1932-2008) to write a commentary to the project and asked Derek and his wife Joan to travel to Dublin to be at the rehearsals. Peter Blake arrived in Dublin around the 26th January and had dinner with Roger Forrester who asked Blake if he liked Eric Clapton’s music. Blake replied, “No, I’ve never been a fan. I hate long guitar solos.”

Peter Blake had access all areas to make his sketches and said everyone got so used to him being around that they hardly noticed him. He could sketch freely. He followed Eric Clapton back to England and continued sketching at the Royal Albert Hall and at the two blues concerts at the Brixton Academy on February 21st and 22nd, 1991. Warner Reprise Records got their cover drawing for the “24 Nights” album released on 8th October 1991.

Twenty-five years after the release of the “24 Nights” album and Genesis Publications’ box set I managed to get hold of my own copy of this wonderful set. And thanks to Derek Taylor‘s “Commentary” book included in the set and Peter Blake‘s detailed notes in the “Scrapbook” have helped me piece together this story.