Q: Did the bootleg artwork ever lead to any more ‘official’ commercial work?
A: Not directly. Through creating the covers I was building up my chops as an artist, though, so that when I did get my first “legitimate” cover gig , I was all ready to do good, solid professional work. My pals at Rhino Records followed what I was doing, so when their company started up, they immediately gave me a call.
The bootleg work also led to my becoming the art director for BOMP! magazine.
I eventually created a lot of “legitimate” covers, mostly for Columbia.
It became well known that upon John Entwistle first seeing a copy of Who’s Zoo, he began to realize just how much rare and unreleased Who stuff there was out there. It inspired him to compile and officially release Odds and Sods.
For the expanded CD release of Odds and Sods, I was contacted by The Who. They asked my permission to use my Radio London cover as the picture disc image for Odds and Sods. I enthusiastically allowed them to do just that.
I ran into David Skye, a fan of my bootleg covers, at the Pasadena Record Swap Meet. David made an interesting proposal to me. He was a huge bootleg collector. His idea was to compile multi-disc sets that would collect the very best bootleg recordings and then release them legitimately with the cooperation of the respective bands. The bands would get royalties for the CDs and not have to do any work, other than approving the content and covers. David asked me if I would like to do the covers. I thought it was a great idea. The “official bootlegs” were initially released by Shout! Factory. I did covers for Todd Rundgren, The Nice, Emerson Lake & Palmer and Iggy Pop.
I only ran into one major problem on that project. I’m a huge fan of The Nice. I did a cover featuring Azrael, the Angel of Death, on the cover, as The Nice had released two different songs about Azrael. Keith Emerson called up.
“I LOVE the cover,” he said. “And we can’t use it.”
“The drummer just died. If his widow saw the Angel of Death on the cover she would freak.”
So, I created a new cover for The Nice collection, illustrating “Flower King of Flies” instead. The rejected cover was printed in the art book, Flesk Prime.
It turns out that Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens is a fan of my boot and comix covers. He phoned me up and asked me to do two bootleg-style CD covers for The Smithereens, which I did.
Pat’s a great guy; we’ve got lots in common.
Q: Do you have any personal favourites from the covers you did?
A: The Rolling Stones: All Meat Music, Welcome to New York, Summer Re-runs, Bright Lights Big City, Cops and Robbers; The Who: Who’s Zoo, Tales From The Who; The Yardbirds: More Golden Eggs; Bob Dylan: Melbourne Australia (my first color bootleg cover); Paul McCartney & Wings: Great Dane; Led Zeppelin: Burn Like a Candle.
When Who’s Zoo came out, I delivered a copy to Greg Shaw, who had furnished us with some of the rare Who singles included on the LP. Upon seeing the LP for the first time, Greg whooped, “It looks like a REAL RECORD!”
Tales From The Who was the first quadraphonic bootleg. My cover was an homage to the great old E.C. horror comics of the 1950s, like Tales From the Crypt.
I’m also really proud of The Yardbirds LP More Golden Eggs, not just because I think it’s one of my best covers, but because it was the very first semi-legitmate bootleg release. During the production of the LP I discovered that Yardbirds lead singer Keith Relf was living nearby (he was putting together Armageddon). We called him up. In exchange for our coming over and taping an interview with Keith as he listened to and commented on our record, we would pay his rent for that month. He agreed. “Ken” (identified as “Baby Ray” in the interview, from Frank Zappa’s “Baby Ray and the Ferns”) and I interviewed him. We took photos and got his autograph, all of which were used in the bootleg, which included a five-page insert of the complete interview.
Airbrush illustration was all the rage in Los Angeles at the time, but I couldn’t afford one. What looks like airbrush on the Dylan Melbourne, Australia cover was actually done with spray cans of enamel paint. Pretty primitive!
The Great Dane cover was the first commercial illustration I ever did using an airbrush.
Q: All of the pig caricatures were fantastic! And seemed just so perfect for bootleg art! The perfect combination of humour, subversion and as Zappa used to say.. Conceptual Continuity….. and on the same subject, Dub & Ken had already been using the ‘farm pig’ logo on their stickers before they hired you but whose idea was it to carry this theme further into the caricatures… yours or theirs?
A: The pig thing was fun. It started a weird rumor in the Hollywood music scene, though, that I was into having sex with pigs. Little minds with too much time, I guess.
The pig thing all began because at that point in time I felt that rock ‘n’ roll was taking itself much too seriously. It was getting pretty pretentious (it was the peak of the Prog Rock era). I thought I’d puncture those ego balloons with a few well-placed pig caricatures (because the symbol of TMOQ was a dictionary image of a pig). It was meant to be subversive. It was done with the hope that pop stars might reexamine themselves a bit and re-find a way to laugh at themselves and not take themselves so seriously.
I promised Ollie of Record Paradise, though, that I would never draw Mick Jagger as a pig. She loved Mick, who used to visit the shop whenever he was in L. A. When he came by, Ollie would load him up with our bootlegs. I did a lot of drawings of Mick (the TMOQ guys were huge Stones fans) but I kept that promise of never drawing him as a pig.
I felt bad about drawing Yoko Ono as a pig (Get Back Sessions II); she was already getting more than her share of shit from Beatles fans.
I heard later that she loved my notorious BeatleSongs cover, the one that featured Mark Chapman on the cover, the cover that got me and Rhino Records all of those death threats.
Q: What bands were you really into at that time ?… from what I’ve gathered from your website your taste in music is pretty wide…
A: It’s very wide. The only music genre I really can’t stand is rap music. I hate songs whose lyrics are made to be more important than the music. For that reason, it took me a very long time to get into Bob Dylan — and most folk music, for that matter (there are many exceptions, of course, Joni Mitchell being one of them). Lyric-heavy songs (like the crap in the musical version of Les Miserables) leave me cold because of their emphasis on “the words”. I don’t need to hear or try to understand lyrics to enjoy and appreciate Beethoven.
I really don’t give a shit about lyrics. I can appreciate them when they’re good, like the Rolling Stones’ lyrics, but knowing them is not necessary for me to enjoy the Stones’ music. That those bad boys have good lyrics is just more frosting on a cake that’s already rich enough for me. I never even knew the Stones had great lyrics until “Ken” pointed them out to me. I was more intrigued by their overall sound. I think the Stones were, too; they always buried Mick’s vocals in the mix.
The genre I love the most is blues. That’s my desert island music.
I just completed a book on the blues, Legends of the Blues. It contains 100 color portraits of my favorite blues musicians born prior to 1930. I also wrote each of the bios. The next volume will be Legends of the British Blues. It’s already half-finished.
But to directly answer your question, my favorite bands back then were The Yardbirds, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Jeff Beck, Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, The Nice, and The Kinks. I was a total Anglophile. And I loved the Beach Boys. I also never missed a Boz Scaggs show.
Q: Do you have many boots in your own collection these days ?
A: Not compared to my friend Ross Halfin! Each time he goes to Japan with Jimmy Page (Ross is Jimmy’s official photographer), he comes back with literally hundreds of boots.
I think I have what you would call a decent bootleg collection: about 100 (or fewer) LPs and about 200 (or fewer) CDs. Nothing extraordinary, although I do own some highly sought after boots, like Bob Dylan’s Ten of Swords box set.
I purchased my first bootleg record album, Bob Dylan’s Great White Wonder, at Peaches Records, a large legitimate record store on Hollywood Boulevard.
I bought my second bootleg, the Rolling Stones’ LIVEr Than You’ll Ever Be at the same shop (Trivia note: LIVEr Than You’ll Ever Be was originally remastered by David Axelrod).
Both had similar covers: completely white with the title of the LP rubberstamped on the blank cover in blue.
Q: I thought we’d finally managed to get all your bootleg covers up on the site, but according to your website there were 45 created by you and we’ve only got 37 (plus the generic ‘Pigs in the bootleg warehouse’ one which is going up shortly)….have we missed any?
A: You probably missed the non-rock bootlegs. As big a market as there is for rock bootlegs, it’s dwarfed by the ferocious demand for bootleg movie soundtracks.
Here is what you may have overlooked:
PIG’S EYE (TMQ Budget Label)
The Rolling Stones – Honolulu
The Who – Rock and Roll Who-Chee-Koo!
SOUND STAGE RECORDINGS/SCARCE RARITIES PRODUCTIONS
Annie Get Your Gun soundtrack (Judy Garland version)
Various (Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, etc.)- Dick Tracy in B flat
Raintree County soundtrack
Ethel Merman – Something for The Boys
Gloria DeHaven, Van Johnson, June Allyson – Two Girls and a Sailor
Miklos Rozsa – The Film World of Miklos Rozsa
Vedette Records logo design
Plus: Standard covers for Dick Haymes, Betty Hutton, Gloria DeHaven
LONG LIVE THE SMOKING PIG
Led Zeppelin – Burn Like A Candle
To Be Continued…