Great article by Robin Stummer from the Guardian with Klaus Voormann, Beatles friend from the Hamburg days and designer of the Revolver sleeve
Fifty years on, Klaus Voormann tells the story behind Revolver’s psychedelic cover
pening with a sharp swipe at Harold Wilson’s supertax rate for big earners, it ends half an hour later in a revolutionary mystical soundscape sculpted from LSD and dope, and drenched in technical wizardry the like of which had never been heard before. In between, a dozen of the finest pop songs ever written – including Eleanor Rigby, Good Day Sunshine and Here, There and Everywhere – all wrapped up in a piece of artwork as unexpected and intricate as the music it was created to contain.
Half a century after the release of Revolver, the Beatles album hailed not only as the group’s creative summit but arguably pop’s greatest achievement, the artist who designed the record’s monochrome sleeve – itself acclaimed as one of the finest pop artworks – has revealed how he did it: on a kitchen table in an attic flat, for £50.
Klaus Voormann – veteran Beatles confidant, inventor of the mop-top haircut, and member of the group’s inner circle of friends since their formative years playing Hamburg bars and strip joints – has decided to tell the story of his relationship with the Fab Four not in words, but in pictures. Voormann’s graphic novel, Birth of an Icon: Revolver 50, opens with his first encounter with the group one night in 1960 in a Hamburg bar, the Kaiserkeller, and traces their metamorphosis in five years from leather-clad rockers to multimillionaire psychedelic potentates, the greatest band in the world.
Revolver, the Beatles’ seventh album, was released in the UK on 5 August 1966. England had just won the World Cup and London was swinging. “Things stay in my memory because people keep on asking me about that time,” Voormann, now 78 and based in his native Germany, told the Observer. “I remember, where I created the Revolver cover. It was on the third floor of a house, in a little attic apartment, it was in the kitchen. Parliament Hill, Hampstead. I was staying there. I went back there recently, the building is exactly the same.”
A trained artist and musician, Voormann and his girlfriend, the photographer Astrid Kirchherr, were quintessential continental beatniks when they befriended the Beatles – sporting black clothes and a moody face beneath a low fringe. The look, especially the hair, heavily influenced the band’s early image. Voormann went on to spend much of the 60s and 70s alternating stints on the pop and rock circuit, playing bass with Manfred Mann, George Harrison and John Lennon – including on Lennon’s Imagine – with his work in graphic design and fine art.
You can read the rest of this at the Guardian
Here’s the sleeve – what do we think? Classic bit of pop-art surrealism or wonky cut and paste sixth-form art project?
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