Saturday, March 21, 2009

Classic Rock Videos

Stevie Wonder - You are the sunshine of my life

Album Cover Stories- The Allman Brothers Band

As always, I want to thank Michael Goldstein over at for the exclusive reprint rights to his marvelous album cover art stories:

Cover Story Interview – The Allman Brothers Band – Where It All Begins - with design/artwork by Ioannis

Cover Story for March 20, 2009

Subject: Where It All Begins, by The Allman Brothers Band – a 1994 release on Sony Records, with cover artwork and design produced by Ioannis.

With the band celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and in the midst of its annual multi-show run at NYC’s Beacon Theater, I thought that it’d be interesting for Cover Story readers to get a look behind the scenes of the making of one of their more-recent record covers – the one for 1994’s Where It All Begins, created by the designer/painter Ioannis – in that, like the band, it represents another well-done turn on a classic original effort.

Before the band had established its logo (the first version of the stacked text appearing on their 1979 Enlightened Rogues LP), the band’s record covers had featured a wide variety of designs – both photo and illustration-based, including Jim Marshall’s iconic photograph used on the cover of their Live At Fillmore East double album and James Flournoy Holmes’ illustration for Eat A Peach. However, band insiders (musicians and crew) had their first exposure to a mushroom-based ABB logo in 1970 when tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle was hired by brothers Gregg and Duane to create a tattoo design that would then be distributed to the entire ABB family at a cannabis-fueled party during a stop-over in Columbus, Ohio. This design obviously left a lasting impression (sorry!) on guitarist Dickie Betts, who later suggested that it be included in the design you’ll read about shortly.

In 1994, the always-morphing line-up of the Allman Brothers Band consisted of the four living members of the original band - Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks and Jai Johanny "Jaimoe" Johanson - all who had reunited for their 20th Anniversary tour in 1989 - and added players including guitarist Warren Haynes (the new “hardest working man in show business”), bassist Allen Woody and drummer/percussionist Marc Quinones. Driven by strong play on AOR stations, the record ultimately went gold, but it turned out to be the last one that Mr. Betts would play on, with Mr. Haynes replacing him permanently in 2001.

In as much as their fans love their recordings, it is the band’s live performances that have given them the opportunity to play to sold-out crowds for 40 years, so like any manager worth his/her salt, it was important for Bert Hollman to find someone with the talent to produce just the right designs for the band’s tour merch. This timely need opened the door for Ioannis into the band’s inner world and, based on the fact that the relationship is still strong 15 years later, the band and its fans have been greatly impressed by the now-iconic mushroom-based design. The details of how it all begins are chronicled in today’s Cover Story

In the words of the artist – Ioannis – interviewed December 2008 and January 2009 -

In the early spring of 1994, the small design firm that my brother and I had started was only a couple of years old, so designing the next cover for the Allman Brothers Band was the last thing on my mind at the time. A friend of ours in the merchandising business had been contacted by the band’s manager (Bert Hollman) and was asked to provide a design for tour shirts for their upcoming tour, so he called us for help. I sketched a couple of ideas and then packed up the car for the drive up to Massachusetts (from our office in Connecticut) to present them. At the last minute, I decided to take one of my paintings along to show him how my fine art looked.

Bert turned out to be very down to earth type of guy and one with a great eye and appreciation for artwork. When I showed him my painting, he looked at it long and hard and said “forget the t-shirts for now - what do you think you could do with this?”. He then showed me a pencil drawing of a bunch of naked girls dancing around a mushroom. “Dickie (Betts) sent me this” he said, “and we have an album coming out and are in need of a record cover really bad. We are also really behind schedule, so can you put something together in a week?”

At this point, my head was spinning. I was caught totally off guard as I had the whole sales pitch for the designs for the tour merch in my head. “Do we have a title?” I asked. “Epic (the record label) is thinking, ‘Greetings from Jupiter’, but I don’t think we are going with that” he replied. “I like the sketch, but not the naked girls,” I said, adding “I guess the mushroom is cool.” “Well, that is what I want - to take the mushroom icon to a new level” he replied.

For the entire drive home, ideas started going through my head. I must admit I was never a huge ABB fan when I was a teenager because, growing up in Europe, I was more exposed to Rock and Roll from the U.K.. However, once we moved to the U.S., it was impossible to avoid their music and, more importantly, I thought that it was great! They were the forefathers of “Jam band” music and, to me, they had more in common with Santana and The Grateful Dead and less with Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Southern Rock movement.

When I got home I went through the whole ABB catalogue and noticed that - with the exception of Eat A Peach - there was hardly any illustrated cover art. I decided then that I would do a painting for the main cover image. Around that time, my wife and I (with our 8 month-old daughter in tow) had moved to a new house near the ocean. I had not painted in a long time and, while setting up my new studio, I was inspired and started to paint again, so by the time this commission came about, I had worked out all of the kinks in the process.

I first hired a friend of mine to shoot a picture of denim fabric that I’d use as the background texture and I then began to sketch the cover artwork. I realized that showing my client pencil sketches was not going to work - they were not going to get the gist of it from sketches - so I proceeded to paint a small 6x6 inch cover in inks and acrylics. I comp’d the whole piece together in two days and then, very nervously, drove it up to Bert’s house to show it to him. “This is great” he said. “Let me show it to Dickie and I will get back to you.”

About a day or so later he called me with the verdict. “He loved it”, he said. “How quick can you get it to the label?” “Well”, I replied, “I will need at least a week or so to do the painting”. “What painting?”, he said. “I thought that WAS the artwork!” (in the years since, we still get a good laugh about that). And so, with my daughter crawling around in the studio, I started the painting.

Although the first two versions were, in my mind, horrible, things started to come together in the third one. I did some airbrushing (mostly for the sky), used enamel marbling on the rocks, and acrylics, pencils and dyes for the details. I decided on a sunset view of the southern bayou with waterfalls and springs in the background and a huge (some would say) phallic psychedelic mushroom coming out of the water as the centerpiece - pure fantasy artwork.

When it was done, I packed it up in my car and, with my friend, took a ride on up to Boston again. The band had rented an old warehouse and had set up to rehearse. Bert led me inside and propped the painting up against the wall. As the band took a break, he brought in each member - one at a time - and showed them the art. One by one, everyone approved, and last one up was Dickie (remember, it was based on his idea – well, sort of!). He took one look at it, turned around and then hugged me, saying “this says to me ‘Where It All Begins’.” Thus, the title.

After everyone had left, Bert leaned over to me and said “it is a great piece, except that it doesn’t look anything like the comp we originally showed to Dickie,” and he was right! As I embellished and polished the real painting, I was not paying attention to the original 6” x 6” comp, so although the concept was the same, the artwork bore no resemblance to the sample image that Dickie and the others had originally reviewed. However, everyone liked the new painting so much that no one really had noticed the change.

I then took about a week to do the layouts and package design and brought the whole package to Poughkeepsie, NY where the band was launching its summer tour. Backstage, I showed the artwork to everyone and got pats on the back all around, which is about the best you can hope for as a designer. Later on, I created t-shirt and poster designs for the tour (and even a single).

Thus began a relationship that has lasted to this day. The artwork I did for this project more or less put my art career on a stable path as more commissions for artwork came as a result. I had almost stopped painting – which was my first love – but this piece whetted my appetite and gave me the confidence to paint again. Now I was finally enjoying success as an art director, with a number of new pieces coming out that summer - including a painting that would later become a cover for Lynyrd Skynyrd, as well as tour art for Bon Jovi.

In 2006 as a VIP guest of legendary drummer Butch Trucks I went to see the ABB at the Beacon Theater in NYC during their now-famous annual “March Run” concert series. There, I ran into a whole bunch of old friends, most notably Kirk West, who is their road manager and general creative guru and historian. I had not sat through a performance in a while, and while leaning against a stack of sound equipment on the old stage just a few feet from Greg Allman, I realized that I was watching an American rock legend kick it into high gear to a sold out crowd who were in the band’s grip within just a few minutes.

As the night wore on and the band continued to jam, I watched my artwork projected behind them under the rainbow hues of the stage lighting. There was a moment in time where it all came together for me, just like when I used to fantasize as a kid about my art being part of the fabric of Rock music. I also humbly realized that, looking at the expressions at the sea of faces in the rows in front of me (from my vantage point on the stage,) my small contribution was being cemented into the Allman Brothers Band lore.

Bert Holman calls it “a great piece of artwork and a fan favorite”. To this day, it is still reproduced on posters, t-shirts, prints, backdrops and animations used by the band - I have even seen the art bootlegged on t-shirts, patches, tattoos and bandanas! Every time I display the original in an art exhibit, a small crowd gathers in front of the painting. I like the painting myself, but I am not sure if it’s the art itself or the fact that it is such a recognized part of the band’s iconography. In any case, the tons of complementary e-mails I have received from fans over the years have really made it all worth while.

ABB Tour Art – 1994, 1995, 2007

About the artist – Ioannis –

Ioannis was born in Athens, Greece. In 1967, his family moved to the United States and, at an early age, he became influenced by American comic book artists. He immediately knew he would be an illustrator and began creating and drawing his own comic books, which he then sold around the neighborhood. His love for music pushed his artistic development in a particular direction, with the hopes of one day creating artwork – and, in particular record sleeve design – for the music industry. During his teen years he began painting in different media, developing a unique mixed-media technique combining photographs, several types of paints and mixing traditional and airbrush applications.

As he began college, Ioannis had already begun providing design services to the local independent music acts and labels. In the early 1980s, this expanded to include clients in the New York music scene where his work as a freelance art director increased dramatically. Since then, he has done over 165 record covers/CD packages, along with a vast catalog of promotional material, merchandise and tour art for a diverse series of clients in the Classic Rock, Metal, Jazz, Prog Rock, World music, alternative, and electronic genres.

Some of his music clients have included Universal Records, Sony Records and Sanctuary Records Group, providing designs for Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, STYX, Blue Oyster Cult, Dream Theater, King Crimson, Yngwie Malmsteen, Biohazard, Sepultura, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Quiet Riot, Dokken, Johnny Winter, Extreme, UFP, The Tubes, Eddie Money, Van Zant, Saga, and many more. In 1994, he was one of 80 artists selected to create a mural at Woodstock II, and his works have been featured in many magazines, books and exhibitions worldwide.

His design firm - VIVID IMAGES CREATIVE - also creates film posters, entertainment company ID programs for Radio and TV companies and programs, websites and viral campaigns for entertainment clients, while his merchandising company - DANGEROUS AGE GRAPHICS - showcases, sells and promotes his original artwork (original works have been selling recently in the $25 - $50K range). and I am currently working on a series of exhibits nationally. I’ve also been working on a video game based on my art, a ROCK METAL book and also on an apparel line of my designs that will hopefully be out next summer.

To learn more about Ioannis, please visit his website at

To learn more about The Allman Brothers Band, please visit their website at

To see some of the new special edition prints produced by Ioannis, please visit the RockPoP Gallery site at

About Cover Stories - Our ongoing series of interviews will give you, the music and art fan, a look at "the making of" the illustrations, photographs and designs of many of the most-recognized and influential images that have served to package and promote your all-time-favorite recordings.

In each Cover Story, we'll meet the artists, designers and photographers who produced these works of art and learn what motivated them, what processes they used, how they collaborated (or fought) with the musical acts, their management, their labels, etc. - all of the things that influenced the final product you saw then and still see today.

We hope that you enjoy these looks behind the scenes of the music-related art business and that you'll share your stories with us and fellow fans about what role these works of art - and the music they covered - played in your lives.

All images featured in this Cover Story are Copyright 1994 - 2007, Ioannis/Vivid Image Design - All rights reserved. Except as noted, all other text Copyright 2009 - Mike Goldstein & RockPoP Gallery ( - All rights reserved.

Music News & Notes

Nirvana Catalog To Be Re-Released On Vinyl

The bulk of Nirvana's catalog is set for a high-fidelity do-over this year as the Original Recordings Group (ORG) prepares to release "Nevermind," "In Utero," and "MTV Unplugged" on 180-gram, audiophile quality vinyl for the first time ever.

All three records will be released in 2009, with "Nevermind" coming first, says Monti Olson, a senior VP of Universal Music Publishing Group/Interscope Records and founder of ORG, who will announce the deal at South By Southwest tomorrow (March 21).


John Mellencamp Working on New Album, Box Set

John Mellencamp's website has recently been updated with new information on a new album that he plans to record this summer and an update on the long rumored and grossly overdue career spanning "box set."

On the new album:

"During the tour, John hopes to cut a new album, "as American folk as I've ever been," he says. To be produced again by T-Bone Burnett, the album will be recorded at old hotels including the famed former Statler Hilton Hotel in Downtown Dallas, where legendary bluesman Robert Johnson recorded 13 blues songs during the summer of 1937...

"...John hopes to refocus attention on it and other such buildings within quick travel distance during his summer tour (another is the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, where Johnson recorded Sweet Home Chicago and Crossroad Blues), bringing along 1950s recording equipment to get a vintage sound to go with the setting. Additionally, the sessions will be filmed by acclaimed photographer Kurt Marcus; background footage of the surrounding areas will also be shot and mixed in with material about the music and the summer tour itself. If things go according to plan, a Sundance-quality documentary will result."

On the box set:

"They've been talking about this one for years, but real work is now being done on what looks to be a 4-CD set. In fact, music business A & R and Producer veteran Steve Berkowitz, who among many other things did the a&r work for the ongoing series of Bob Dylan and Miles Davis boxes has been brought on as consultant.

"According to Berkowitz, then, the box will not so much focus on the obvious hits as present a full picture of a "life-long, hall-of-fame, great artist" and his songs.

"The layout of the set at this time involves one disc of early demos; two discs of various versions of well-known songs (these may be alternate takes and mixes, early versions, acoustic versions, etc.), as well as previously unreleased songs; and a fourth disc, which Berkowitz is currently referring to as "Let Us Reconsider," to also include different versions of other material. He estimates that 65-75% of the material will be "previously unreleased" recordings."


Simon & Garfunkel May Tour Australia and Asia

CNN has reported that legendary folk icons Simon & Garfunkel are preparing to announce dates for late spring shows in Australia and Asia.

The possibility first surfaced during the first of Simon's two gigs reopening the renovated Beacon Theater. Simon's manager, Jeff Kramer, hinted that more shows might be coming.

According to the article, Kramer has asked Paul's supporting musicians to clear their calendars from late-May through June. This would allow rehearsals to start in May in New York and for the tour to last throughout June.


Duran Duran in the Studio With Mark Ronson

It's being reported that Duran Duran have entered the studio to record their 13th album with production by producer Mark Ronson. The group and Ronson also worked together last summer for a special gig in Paris.

While Ronson has become huge in the last couple of years while working with Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen, Robbie Williams, Adele and others, he's been friends with John Taylor back to their childhoods. Ronson also recently admitted that, when he was young, he idolized the band and would "take a picture of John Taylor with me to the barber shop".

On the Duran Duran blog, the group says "Working with Ronson is a natural next step for the band, who continue to challenge themselves with each new phase of their career."

Kramer, though, would not confirm any plans to Rolling Stone, saying "Yes there have been conversations taking place, but nothing has been confirmed."


Jonas Brothers Tour

With the Jonas Brothers on the verge of embarking on their first world tour, the trio recently held a conference call to discuss their new concert arrangement, their Monkees-inspired JONAS television show and their new June album.

“The tour will be in-the-round,” Nick Jonas tells Rock Daily about the arena shows that will plant the band at center court. “We’ve always talked about wanting to do a tour like that, and this has been our first opportunity. It’s a way for us to really connect with our fans.”

The tour will kick off this Sunday, March 22nd, with a show in the Bahamas, after which the JoBros will invade South America, before returning to North America and then heading to Europe.

Art that rocks: A resurrection

Synchronicity » Local bands find rhythm -- and CDs meet vinyl -- with local album art.

By Ben Fulton
The Salt Lake Tribune

Growing up, Eli Morrison knew what to look for on the cover of an album when browsing through the record collection of the KJKJ, the low-wattage Logan rock radio station his father owned. Or in the record stacks of Provo's KOVO, where his father also worked.

The younger Morrison was drawn to those depicting monsters, fire, or both. As a consequence, he brought home heavy metal records for trial listens and found the images matched the music.

Then came the exception. With their garish make-up and tough demeanor set against a back-drop of fiery apocalypse, the band members of KISS came across as downright evil on the illustrated cover of their Destroyer album. But when Morrison put the album on his turntable, he heard "Beth," a tender pop ballad.

"I had never been so disappointed," said Morrison, the 37-year-old guitarist and singer who fronts the Salt Lake City band The Wolfs.

Seeking art for their Death Theme album, the band started with no particular images in mind. Working with Salt Lake City artist Sri Whipple in a process Morrison remembers as "crafty," a prototype was born. Outside, the album mimicked a classy dinner invitation, folded into an equilateral triangle. Inside, once folded out, was a gallery of small vignettes that played off the shocking nature of the album's music, yet pulled the tension tight against the contrasting image of the invitation.

"We had nails, teeth, diamond rings, shards of glass, tabs from soda cans, pills, and knives," Morrison said. "That particular record was very grotesque."

Images are too graphic, perhaps, to be reproduced in a family newspaper, but the local rock band ate it up, then blew the house down when their fans raved about the design.

Years after compact disc format beat the vinyl album into temporary retreat, the urge for killer album art lives on. In fact, to hear local musicians, artists and music store merchants tell it, the resurgence of both rock album art you can see and feel has marched hand-in-hand with vinyl LP's growing sales figures. In the process, both bands and artists have benefitted.

"You can't flip through your CDs to check out the cover art like you do with albums," said Leah Bell, Salt Lake City's internationally renowned grande dame of rock music poster art. "There's been a shift. For people who want something large enough to make a visual connection to the music, you want the album and the bigger art."

Bell concurs with Morrison's opinion of Whipple -- counting him among her local favorites -- but also names Salt Lake City artists Trent Call, whose playful mix of graffiti and cartoon styles has graced many a concert poster, plus SLUG magazine's latest "Death by Salt" compilation album. Bell also adds to the list artist Travis Bone and the husband-and-wife team of Potter Press.

Creating album art for bands may never pay the bills on par with commissioned work from families looking for children's portraits or restaurants in search of murals, but the publicity and camaraderie it creates between artists and musicians is worth the steep discount. Both Whipple and Call say they've sometimes accepted payment in the form of six-packs or even bottle of whiskey.

"I think of my work as being the same rhythm, tone and structure of the band's music," said Whipple, who recently had one of his works honored as cover-worthy for Salt Lake City band Vile Blue Shades' John Thursday California Adventure LP. He's also in the process of creating album art for Eagle Twin, the heavy metal duo of Tyler Smith and Gentry Densley, formerly of Ice Burn.

The thrill of creating album art is the thrill of discovering whether or not musicians trust you enough to unveil the spirit of their sound and style in visual form. "If [a band wants] something hot and banging, just get to know the artist," Whipple said. "Be open to letting the artist run with it."

Chris Brozek, who co-owns Salt Lake City's Slowtrain music store with his wife Anna, said many bands now release full-length albums as vinyl, with either a redemption card for digital downloading or compact disc form of the same album included inside. The push among music retailers, he learned at a recent conference of the Alliance of Independent Media Stores, is to include only the compact disc inside the vinyl sleeve.

Vinyl may never completely erase the compact disc, or vice versa, but the music retail industry is already seeing the day when both formats will be sold together. Big-name bands such as Wilco and Black Keys have already released LPs with CDs inside. "You'll hear it from people who buy vinyl all the time," Brozek said. "They love the format. They love having art that's also larger and more tangible."

After the insult of "Beth," Morrison recalls with equal force the time he heard an album with cover art worthy of them, and then some. The Jimi Hendrix Experience's "Are You Experienced?" blew his mind.

"It's up there in that classic echelon," Morrison said. "Not only is the record cover lime green and purple yellow, but the music is also. That was pretty neat."


This Date In Music History- March 21


Rosemary Stone- Sly & the Family Stone (1945)

Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry was born in 1946. He wrote "In the Summertime."

Keith Palmer-Prodigy (1967)

Russell Thompkins Jr.- Stylistics (1951)

Roger Hodgson- Supertramp (1950)

Eddie Money (1949)

Solomon Burke-the king of rock & soul (1940)

They Are Missed:

The very, very late Johann Sebastian Bach (wrote "Whiter Shade Of Pale" by Procol Harum, "A Lover's Concerto" by the Toys and Apollo 100's "Joy") was born in 1685.

Dean Martin's son, Dean Paul Martin died in a plane crash while serving in the Air National Guard in 1987.

Born on this day in 1943, Viv Stanshall, of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (died on March 5 1995 in a house fire).

Slide guitarist Son House, one of the leading exponents of the Delta blues style, was born in 1902 (died on October 19, 1988).

The inventor of the Telecaster and Stratocaster guitars Leo Fender died from Parkinson's disease in 1991.


"God Bless America" was recorded by Kate Smith in 1939.

Today in 1953 the song "The Doggie in the Window" by Patti Page topped the charts and stayed there for 8 weeks.

In 1989, Dick Clark announced that he would no longer be hosting the show "American Bandstand." He had been the host for 33 years.

The Faces, with vocalist Rod Stewart, released their debut album, “First Step” in 1970.

The Moondog Coronation Ball, the first "rock 'n' roll" stage show, was held at the Cleveland Arena in 1952.

In 1956, Carl Perkins was injured in a car crash that killed both his manager and his brother Jay. By the time Perkins got out of hospital, Elvis Presley had already had a hit with Perkins' "Blue Suede Shoes."

The Beatles played Liverpool, England's Cavern Club for the first time in 1961.

In 1983, Pink Floyd released “The Final Cut,” their last album recorded with Roger Waters.

In 1964, the Beatles' "She Loves You" was #1 on the American singles chart today. Their single "I Saw Her Standing There" was at #14.

Also in 1964, The Rolling Stones' cover of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" peaked at #3 on the English charts. That's Phil Spector you hear on maracas.

In 1984, Strawberry Fields, an area in Central Park bought by Yoko Ono in memory of her late husband was opened.

Madonna released her album "Like a Prayer" in 1989.

In 1970, in the U.K., the Beatles' "Let It Be" was kept from the #1 position by "Wand'rin' Star," the only single ever to feature the vocals of actor Lee Marvin.

In 2001, Michael Jackson's interior decorator told The Times newspaper that the singer kept 17 life size dolls, adult and child sizes, all fully dressed in his bedroom for “company.” Uh, OK, kind of wierd (I keep mine in the living room)

Bruce Springsteen won an Oscar for the song “Streets of Philadelphia” in 1994.

In 1956, Elvis Presley appeared at the 4,000 seated YMCA Gymnasium in Lexington, North Carolina. Tickets cost $1 for general admission and $1.50 for reserved seats.

In 2008, a five-year legal battle over the use of the Beach Boys' name was settled by two former members of the group. Mike Love had argued he was the only person allowed to perform under the name of the band and sued Al Jardine, whom he claimed was appearing as an unlicensed Beach Boys act. Mr Jardine's lawyer said "a friendly settlement" had been reached that allowed them to focus on the talent and future of this American iconic band.”