Monday, September 7, 2009

Classic Album Cover Art

Abbey Road is the eleventh official album released by The Beatles. Though work on Abbey Road began in April 1969, making it the twelfth and final album recorded by the band; Let It Be was the last album released before the Beatles' dissolution in 1970. Abbey Road was released on September 26, 1969 in the United Kingdom, and October 1, 1969 in the United States. The LP was produced and orchestrated by George Martin for Apple Records. Geoff Emerick was the engineer, Alan Parsons was assistant engineer, and Tony Banks tape operator. It is regarded as one of The Beatles' most tightly constructed albums, although the band was barely operating as a functioning unit at the time. Rolling Stone magazine named it the 14th greatest album of all time.

At some point, the album was going to be titled Everest, after the brand of cigarettes I used to smoke", recalls Geoff Emerick. The idea included a cover photo in the Himalayas, but by the time the group was to take the photo, they decided to call it Abbey Road and take the photo outside the studio, on 8 August 1969. The cover designer was Apple Records creative Director Kosh. The cover photograph was taken by photographer Iain Macmillan. Macmillan was given only ten minutes around 11.30 that morning to take the photo. That cover photograph has since become one of the most famous and most imitated album covers in recording history. The man standing on the pavement in the background is Paul Cole an American tourist who was unaware that he was being photographed until he saw the album cover months later.

Cole explained in 2004 how he came to be there at that precise moment for the front cover of the group’s classic 1969 album.

On a London vacation with his wife, Cole declined to enter a museum on the north London thoroughfare.

“I told her, ‘I’ve seen enough museums. You go on in, take your time and look around and so on, and I’ll just stay out here and see what’s going on outside,’” he recalled.

Parked just outside was a black police van. “I like to just start talking with people,” Cole said. “I walked out, and that cop was sitting there in that police car. I just started carrying on a conversation with him. I was asking him about all kinds of things, about the city of London and the traffic control, things like that. Passing the time of day.”

In the picture, Cole is standing next to the police van.

It was 10 a.m., Aug. 8, 1969. Photographer Iain McMillan was on a stepladder in the middle of the street, photographing the four Beatles as they walked, single-file, across Abbey Road, John Lennon in his famous white suit, Paul McCartney without shoes. The entire shoot lasted 10 minutes.

“I just happened to look up, and I saw those guys walking across the street like a line of ducks,” Cole remembered. “A bunch of kooks, I called them, because they were rather radical-looking at that time. You didn’t walk around in London barefoot.”

About a year later, Cole first noticed the “Abbey Road” album on top of the family record player (his wife was learning to play George Harrison’s love song “Something” on the organ). He did a double-take when he eyeballed McMillan’s photo.

“I had a new sportcoat on, and I had just gotten new shell-rimmed glasses before I left,” he says. “I had to convince the kids that that was me for a while. I told them, ‘Get the magnifying glass out, kids, and you’ll see it’s me.’”

The Beetle

The Volkswagen Beetle parked next to the zebra crossing belonged to one of the people living in the apartment across from the recording studio. After the album came out, the number plate was stolen repeatedly from the car. In 1986, the car was sold at an auction for $23,000 and is currently on display at the Volkswagen museum in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Imitations and parodies

The front cover of Abbey Road has become an icon within popular culture and has been imitated and lampooned repeatedly. The zebra crossing at Abbey Road is also a popular tourist destination, with visitors making their own recreation an extremely common sight.

In music

Many record covers have imitated the cover of Abbey Road, many using photographs shot at the same zebra crossing. Some of the best known of these include Red Hot Chili Peppers' The Abbey Road E.P. (in which the band appear nude, apart from tactfully placed socks), Paul McCartney's live album Paul Is Live, Beatles parody The Rutles's Shabby Road, The Shadows's Live At Abbey Road LP, Booker T. & the M.G.s's LP McLemore Avenue, Kanye West's Live Orchestration DVD (recorded at Abbey Road studios) and Sttellla's A.B. Rose (recorded live at the Ancienne Belgique, with the band dressed in rose).

Only the Beatles could have an image of the band crossing a street and have it recognized as one of the best covers of all time.

Rock/Pop Tidbits

Mr. Aker Bilk, who took "Stranger On The Shore" to Billboard's number one spot in May, 1962, learned to play the clarinet while he was in prison. He had been sentenced to three months in jail after falling asleep while on guard duty for the British Army in Egypt.

Elvis Presley was number 1 in record sales in the US in the 1950s. In the 1960s he was number 2 and in the 70s he was number 13.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney were always on the look-out for interesting titles to write a song around. They did just that when a tired Ringo uttered "God, it's been a hard days night" and again when a chauffer told Paul, "I'm very busy at the moment. I've been working eight days a week."

Ellas Bates was still in grammar school when classmates started calling him "Bo Diddley". He says he doesn't know why. A bo diddley is actually a one-string, African guitar.

Songwriters Felice and Boudleaux Bryant wrote "All I Have To Do Is Dream" in 15 minutes, but the tune would reach the US charts in four straight decades. The Everly Brothers took it to number one in 1958, Richard Chamberlain's version went to number 14 in 1963, Glen Campbell and Bobby Gentry reached number 27 with it in 1970, and Andy Gibb and Victoria Principal peaked at number 51 in 1981.

Dan Whitney, the comedian known as "Larry The Cable Guy" has been influenced by show business all his life. His father used to played guitar with the Everly Brothers.

The first time that Del Shannon and his keyboard player, Max Crook, ever played "Runaway" on stage, Crook improvised the organ solo as he went along. When it came time to record the song and in all future performances, he never changed a single note.

John Fred and his Playboy Band hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in January, 1968 with "Judy In Disguise". At one time, John's father, Fred Gourrier was a professional baseball player.

Before Pete Townshend of the Who began working on the rock opera “Tommy,” he had planned to write an opera about a big white rabbit that ruled the world.

After The Tokens achieved a number one record with "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" in 1961, follow up recordings failed to sell. The group however continued to perform and sang back up vocals for Connie Francis, Del Shannon and Bob Dylan, as well as recording commercials for Pan Am, Ban Deodorant, Wendys and Sunkist.

In the 1960s, during the height of Beatlemania, there were about 90 records released every week in the UK. Only 2 or 3 ever made the charts.

The Shirelles 1962, US Top 10 hit, "Baby, It's You" was actually recorded with only Shirley Alston Reeves' voice over the instrumental demo. The other members of the group don't appear on the record at all, as the original backup vocals, provided by male singers, were left in place.

It took Elvis Presley 31 takes of "Hound Dog" to get the final version that we hear today. In 1988, the song was named the most played record of all time on American juke boxes.

'Wake Me Up Before You Go Go' by Wham! was inspired by a note that group member Andrew Ridgeley left lying in his bedroom.

Paul Evans, who sang the US Top Ten hits "Seven Little Girls" and "Happy-Go-Lucky Me", wrote the music for Bobby Vinton's hit, "Roses Are Red" in 3 minutes, just after seeing Al Byron's lyrics for the first time. After Vinton recorded it, the song went to #1 in the US and sold over 4 million copies.

Poor Ringo. In 1989, after becoming clean and sober, Starr sued to stop the release of an album that he had recorded during his drinking days, claiming he sounded too drunk. The court agreed and the album was never released.

Tommy James and the Shondells' "It's Only Love" album cover was the first professional photo shoot by Paul McCartney's wife, Linda Eastman.

Robert Todd Storz is credited with being the father of the Top 40 radio format. In the early 1950s, he noticed that people would play the same juke box selections over and over, and gradually converted his stable of radio stations from playing dramas and variety shows to an all-hits format. He dubbed the result "Top 40". Storz also pioneered the practice of surveying record stores to determine which singles were the most popular each week. Ironically, he died of a stroke in 1964, in his 40th year.

John Hall, co-founder of the Rock band Orleans, was elected to US Congress in November, 2006, representing New York's 19th congressional district. That's him you hear doing the slick guitar work on "Still The One" and "Dance With Me".

Before they formed The Lovin' Spoonful, John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky were in a group called The Mugwumps, whose other members included Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, who would rise to fame in The Mamas and The Papas.

This Date In Music History-September 7


Art Ferrante - Ferrante & Teicher (1921)

Ronnie Dove (1940)

Alfa Anderson - Chic (1946)

Gloria Gaynor (1949)

Chrissie Hynde - Pretenders (1951)

Benmont Tench - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1954)

Jazz saxiphone great Sonny Rollins (1957)

Margot Chapman - Starland Vocal Band (1957)

Brad Houser - Edie Brickell & the New Bohemians (1960)

Rapper Eazy-E (real name Eric Wright) (1964)

Chad Sexton - 311 (1970)

They Are Missed:

Born on this day in 1934, Little Milton, US blues singer guitarist (died on August 4, 2005).

Born today in 1936, Buddy Holly, singer, songwriter, The Crickets. Influenced The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Holly was killed in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valans were also killed in the crash.

Chicago blues showman Lefty Dizz (real name Walter Williams) died in 1957.

Born today in 1961, LeRoi Moore, saxophonist and founding member of the Dave Matthews Band. Moore was injured on June 30, 2008, in an accident on his farm outside Charlottesville, Virginia, he was re-hospitalized in mid-July for complications related to the accident and died on August 19, 2008.

The Who's drummer, Keith Moon died in London in 1978 after overdosing on Hemenephirin, a prescription drug which was supposed to have helped him with alcohol. Keith Moon was 31.

Warren Zevon, who wrote "Werewolves of London" and "Camelita," died in his home in Los Angeles in 2003 at the age of 56. In September 2002 Zevon announced that he had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and had only months to live.

Born today in 1957, Jermaine Stewart, singer. Also worked with Shalamar, The Temptations and Boy George. Stewart died of cancer on March 17, 1997.


In 1959, Dick Clark's Michigan State Fair stage show, winding up a four day stand, attracted 15,000 spectators-it's the most in the fair's 110-year history. Appearing on stage includes Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, La Vern Baker, Freddy Canon, Duane Eddy, the Coasters, Lou Rawls and Bobby Rydell.

The Beatles' "She Loves You" hit #1 in England in 1963.

Bob Dylan debuts on the pop album charts in 1963 with "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan."

Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida LP entered the charts in 1968.

In 1968, the Doors played the first of two nights at The Roundhouse, London, playing 2 shows a night on their first UK visit. Granada TV filmed the sold out gigs (later shown as "The Doors Are Open"), which were attended by members of The Rolling Stones and Traffic.

The Doors' third album, "Waiting for the Sun," topped the albums chart in 1968 on the back of the #1 single "Hello, I Love You."

Also in 1968, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham made their live debut as Led Zeppelin at Teen Club Box 45 in Gladsaxe in Denmark.

The half hour Saturday morning cartoon "The Beatles" aired its last show in 1969. The show had debuted on September 25, 1965.

The president of the slumping MGM Records since 1969, Mike Curb, resigned in 1973. The 28 year old made his reputation as a purveyor of middle-of-the-road music. He once got rid of eighteen acts from his label because the were allegedly "drug oriented." Curb had other things on his mind like politics and became lieutenant governor of California.

"Over-nite Sensation," by the Mothers (a.k.a. Frank Zappa and band), was released in 1973. One of Zappa's most popular releases, it contains the favorites "Dirty Love" and "Dinah-Moe Humm."

The Guess Who play their final concert in Montreal in 1975.

In 1975, a guy named Steve Anderson set a record for picking a guitar. Anderson, at age 22, picked for 114 hours, 7 minutes. He broke the old record by more than four hours.

In 1976, Judge Richard Owen of the New York State Supreme Court ruled that George Harrison "subconsciously plagiarized" "He's So Fine," the Chiffon's 1963 hit. Harrison's 1970 hit "My Sweet Lord" was the reason for the problem. Harrison was ordered to pay $587,000 to ABKCO Music, a company owned, ironically, by Harrison's former business manager, Allen Klein.

John Parr started a two week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1985 with 'St Elmo's Fire', taken from the film of the same name a No.6 hit in the UK.

In 1986, Michael Nesmith joined the other three Monkees on stage for the first time since the band disbanded. I guess the 'white out' money had run out.

Motley Crue signed a record deal in 1991 for a guaranteed $22.5 million.

Roger Waters released his solo album "Amused to Death" in 1992.

In 1995, newsstands and music stores nationwide reportedly refuse to carry the October issue of Guitar magazine because of its cover photo, which shows Flea (real name Michael Balzary) and Dave Navarro of the Red Hot Chili Peppers kissing.

In 1996, Rapper Tupac Shakur and Marion "Suge" Knight are shot while riding in Knight's Mercedes in Las Vegas following a Mike Tyson fight. Shakur would die 6 days later.

Also in 1996, Michael Jackson played the first date on the HIStory World Tour, his third solo world concert tour, at Letna Park, Prague in the Czech Republic. The tour consisted of 82 concerts and was attended by approximately 4.5 million fans, beating his previous Bad Tour with 4.4 million and grossing a total of over $163.5 million.

Fleetwood Mac went to #1 on the US album chart in 1997 with "The Dance." The album went on sell over 5 million copies in the US alone.

In 2001, Michael Jackson was reunited onstage with the Jackson Five at his 30th Anniversary Celebration in New York City's Madison Square Garden. It ended Jackson's 11-year hiatus from performing in the U.S. Jackson was joined by Eminem, Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight, Britney Spears and Destiny's Child to celebrate the 30th anniversary of his singing career.

Rapper Kanye West's second album "Late Registration" entered the U.S. albums chart in 2005 at #1.

In 2006, a 16-year-old girl filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging that she suffered severe emotional distress after being coerced by Buckcherry's record label into appearing naked in the band's racy "Crazy Bitch" video. "She's had to switch schools because of that video," says girl's attorney. Buckcherry's manager claims that the teenager presented a false ID and submitted fake info so that she could participate in the shoot. Check the ID's carefully people!

In 2007, a report showed that two-thirds of young people who regularly used MP3 players faced premature hearing damage. The Royal National Institute for Deaf People said its findings were alarming with research showing that 72 out of 110 MP3 users tested in the UK were listening to volumes above 85 decibels. Some MP3 players at full volume registered at 105 decibels, an aircraft taking off measured at 110 decibels. What?