We’ve had readers doing a lot more detective work and research into the photographs that Klaus Voormann used for his collage and line drawings for the famous Revolver cover.
In case you’ve missed it the story on our blog started here and here when we stumbled across a terrific montage detailing all the then known images used for the cover.
Turns out the author of that montage was Ukrainian Beatle fan Sergey, one of our readers! He wrote to us letting us know he’d first created it (way back in 2012!) for a Russian Beatles discussion forum called beatles.ru.
Sergey has since tracked down the source of the image of Ringo used as inspiration for the line drawing of him Klaus placed at the bottom left of the Revolver cover – the one where he is looking skywards.
We’re still not sure of the photographer, but it was published in a German booklet Das sind die Beatles which features a series of black-and-white photographs and short comments about each. It was produced by Bravo magazine for the 1966 Bravo Blitztournee tour, under the auspices of Beat Publication Ltd. The photographer details are not indicated, but Sergey sent us these photographs of the actual publication:
We then published what we feel is another piece in the mystery – the photograph of John Lennon that was very likely the inspiration for Klaus’s line drawing of John at the top right-hand side of Revolver. You can read about that here.
That prompted two other readers – Tom and burnham42 – to offer up even more clues. These revolve around the source images for the three small Beatle faces (and two hands) on this part of the cover:
I think the one of the three small photos top left is in The Beatles Anthology book page 70 (in my French edition). You can also find it on pinterest. The photo was taken on the way to Hamburg. There is John, Paul, George and Gerry and the Pacemakers in the photo. The man on the floor (George?) is pulling a face and you even have the hands that Klaus also used.
Well, drag out your English edition of The Beatles Anthology book too if you have one because the image is also on page 70 there as well:
The Anthology Book says the photo is from George Harrison’s private collection. The caption in the book reads: In a lay-by on the road to Hamburg and the Ost See. Me, Paul and John with Gerry and the Pacemakers.
We have George and Paul, who are standing on the left, and John sitting on the ground pulling a funny face.
Voormann has cut out three sections of this image. Paul has been placed to the left, his raised arm now just below George’s face. And he’s cropped John’s face to make it appear he has a Beatles hair-cut, and tilted it so that it is more upright. His hand from the image is also used, but also at a different angle.
So, one more mystery solved!
Following all this, Sergey has been back in touch and has offered up a revised, updated version of his original Revolver cover “sources” montage. Here it is:
Please click on the image to see a larger version.
Could this be another piece in the jigsaw puzzle that is the famous Revolver cover montage by Klaus Voormann?
In this explainer collage below there’s a question mark about the origins of the photograph Voormann used as inspiration for his drawing of John Lennon:
(Click on the image to see a larger version)
It is the drawing on the top right-hand side:
Could it have been this image?
The eyes, mouth and hair all look very similar.
We don’t think this has been identified in other Revolver photo research info before. See our previous posts on this here and here.
We’re still looking to confirm who might have taken the photo (more on this soon) but beatlesblogger.com reader naturalkatsup, who kindly sent it in, says it was taken at Reed Pigman’s “Pigman Ranch” in Missouri on September 19th, 1964. They say it seems to be taken by a photographer named Curt Gunther? We’re not sure if the image was published in a magazine that Klaus had access to, but naturalkatsup has found other photos from the same day on the web. Here’s the full photo:
And here are a couple of other shots from the same photo shoot:
What do you think? Could this be the source for Klaus Voormann’sRevolver drawing of John?
If you definitely know who the photographer is please get in touch.
We can now confirm that this image was in fact taken by photographer Curt Gunther:
Thanks to the info supplied by naturalketsup, we checked our own Beatle library, and found this book:
It was published in 1989 and chronicles the Beatles’ 1964 tour of the U.S. and Canada in great detail. It includes 150 never-before-seen photographs at the time by freelance photographer, Curt Gunther.
Although Beatle manager Brian Epstein had ordered that no photographers accompany The Beatles on the tour, Derek Taylor, their Press Officer and friend, had persuaded Epstein to allow Gunther to tag along with the touring party. And he captured some amazing images. They were issued in 2000 in an expensive Genesis Publications book called Mania Days.
The book has the details a day the band had off in their hectic schedule and their visit to Reed Pigman’s “Pigman Ranch” in Missouri on September 19th, 1964, including a very scary night flight from Arkansas in a small plane to get there. George Harrison feared they’d perish, just like Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper had in a small plane crash in 1959:
With the 2022 remaster and remix of The Beatles‘ Revolver album due to hit stores next month, there’s renewed interest in solving some of the remaining mysteries of just where cover designer Klaus Voormann sourced all those little images that make up the collage he created for this now-famous cover:
As you know last year we published an article about the latest thinking. There were still at least four images (circled in yellow) that remain mysterious as to their source (click on the image to see a larger version):
Now at least three of those four yellow circles have been solved (to an extent) by German fan and YouTuber, Yaacov (Jack) Edisherashvili.
Jack actually took a trip to visit Klaus Voormann in person and spoke with him about the Revolver cover. While there he asked him about where he’d sourced some of those photos.
You can see that video below. It’s interesting because in this first video Klaus talks about the cover and how it will be explained in the new book that’ll be included in the new 2022 release:
After Jack visited Klaus he wrote to us to say:
“The image on the top left corner – the three faces – was never published. This was given privately to Klaus by the band.
The Ringo image – on top right corner – Klaus says was shot on a boat trip.
The John Lennon image with cigarette – I forgot to ask, but looks to me taken from press conference pictures?“
So, that’s more information than we’ve had previously. Following his visit to Klaus, Jack has also uploaded this comprehensively researched YouTube with a detailed breakdown of the Revolver cover:
As you can see still a couple of mysteries remain.
If anyone knows the origins of the John Lennon photo with the cigarette – please let us know.
Also, two other outstanding questions are around the origins of the image of Ringo that Klaus used as inspiration for the drawing at the bottom left of the Revolver cover. Where was it published and who’s the photographer? And also the George image on the right – same questions:
This collage detailing the source photos for Klaus Voormann’s legendary cover image for the Beatles’ 1966 release Revolver has been doing the rounds for a while but its worth returning to because it is awesome:
(Click on the image to enlarge) Those pictures with yellow circles are still being sought after. If you know, contact us in the comments section below.
There’s a great article on the genesis of the cover here. “Revolver was the first Beatles’ album that truly marked out the four distinct personalities of the group. Voormann’s illustration captures the band perfectly. Looking at it, you can see that the group is made up of four unique individuals, but they are also connected by kinship, a friendship and an affinity for one another. It is the perfect summation of the band’s relationship at that point in time.”
UPDATE: Thank you to reader Angel who sent us a link to the Dutch magazine Furore and the information that they did a major article on the Revolver cover. It really looks good.
They pitch it as “an exhaustive ten-page story describes the genesis of Klaus Voormann’s iconic cover design of The Beatles’ Revolver album, now fifty years ago, and traces the source of each photograph used therein.”
You can see a teaser graphic on Furore’s back-issues page for the larger article that’s inside the magazine. It gives a hint of the detailed info they provide on the origins of the photographs that Klaus Voormann used. Here’s that teaser image:
Click on image to see a larger version.
And here are two pages from the article itself:
Again, click on the image to see a larger version.
Also, on Revolver, we’ve just discovered the very good I Am The Eggpod podcast. You really should have a listen. Check out the latest episode where host Chris Shaw and songwriter and musician Andy Bell discuss the1966 masterpiece.
Now that the general public and the reviewers verdicts are in (all generally very positive btw), and now that Paul McCartney’sEgypt Station has entered the Billboard 200 at No.1, making it his first No.1 album on the US charts in over 36 years (the last time was Tug Of War in 1982), maybe it’s time to take a closer look at the cover art and design of the album – both in LP and CD form – because these too seem to have met with a very favourable reception from fans:
Explaining the album’s concept, Paul says, “I liked the words ‘Egypt Station.’… I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from.” The title is taken from the piece of art which is featured on the album cover. It’s a limited edition lithograph, the original of which Paul himself painted back in 1988:
“My original inspiration [for the painting] was….Egyptian symbols and shapes I got from looking at a reference book on Egypt. I was interested in the way they drew sunflowers, so two appear on the left and on the right. It was a nice shape, so I took that and then I also love the way they symbolize trees. I like the way they reduce a tree to just some very simple symbols.” – Paul McCartney
The art directors hired for the project are Ferry Gouw, an illustrator, graphic designer and video director based in London, and Gary Card, a set designer, illustrator and artist also based in London. They’ve taken McCartney’s original painting and extended out its themes and style across many panels (for both the CD and the LP) in a spectacular way.
At first the two seem an odd choice as on the surface they both appear to work in very different worlds to that of Paul McCartney. Gouw inhabits more of an out there, conceptual electronic dance music, skater/cartoon world. He’s also the in-house designer for James Blake’s record label, 1800-Dinosaur. This video is a little old, but it gives a taste of Gouw’s style:
So, you might wonder how Gouw got the McCartney gig. Then you discover that earlier this year Roxy Music hired him to produce a new video interpretation of their legendary song (from 1972), ‘Virginia Plain‘. Gouw says:
“I wanted it to feel like a kaleidoscopic holiday in glamorous, but surreal locations, that only exist in vintage posters and your imagination. The song is so dense – the imagery comes thick and fast, so they all have to pop up in a stream of consciousness. So I researched vintage holiday posters, Americana pin-up icons, art deco jazz posters, and re-drew all the elements to make up the video.”
It was Bryan Ferry who commissioned the piece after being impressed with Gouw’s work on a video for his solo album, Olympia. The result has been described as the creative rebirth of an iconic track in British musical lore:
On the other hand, Gary Card seems more into groovy and colourful pop sculpture of late. By way of example there’s this amazing eight foot high plasticine Christmas tree he made for a London hotel last holiday season:Both Gouw and Card have been on Instagram since the release of Egypt Station: “After months of hard work this beauty is finally out in the world. So proud to see it everywhere, it’s a real privilege to be a part of this. Expect me and @garycard to be spamming Instagram with this for the next few years LoL” – Ferry Gouw
“Woke up this morning to news that the Paul McCartney album we designed is number 1 in the U.S 👍🏻 here’s the full art work @ferry_gouw n me based around @paulmccartney‘s original painting #egyptstation” – Gary Card. He then posted this image of the 6-panel “concertina” style packaging they devised for the CD:
When folded up the CD cover is held in place with a bright red cloth fabric elastic band:
For the exclusive Target and HMV editions (which have two bonus songs) the elastic band is green in colour to help set it apart:
It’s not the first time that McCartney has employed elastic bands to hold together a cover. In 1999, under his The Fireman persona, he released a 12″ vinyl featuring remixes of a song called ‘Fluid’, taken from the Rushes album. That folded cover has a red rubber band to keep everything in place too:
The Egypt Station “concertina” idea for the CD is also used for the vinyl record, but only in the “Deluxe Edition” design. This is a three-panel gatefold and you can see Sir Paul holding an example of it here:The LP cover is quite spectacular in this larger format, with a beautifully textured feel to the paper used giving a high quality tactile feel. There’s also a tri-fold lyric sheet in a deep blue which fits within – also beautifully designed by Gouw and Card. Here’s one page from the lyric sheet:
You can see how the LP package folds compared to the CD version a little more clearly here:
The attention to detail extends further inside, with the labels on each side of the LP being individually custom designed as well. Another nice touch:
And that brings us to the vinyl colours. Egypt Station is offered in black vinyl (140 gram standard, and 180 gram deluxe); in blue and orange coloured vinyls for the deluxe version – only available via McCartney’s official site; in red vinyl as a Barnes & Noble store exclusive; and in green vinyl – offered to Spotify subscribers first, but for a period also available to all via the McCartney site as well.
When the images for Egypt Stationfirst began to appear many likened the cover to George Harrison’s 1982 outing, Gone Troppo:
Yes, there are certain similarities in the colours and the pastiche style used, but Egypt Station‘s artwork goes far beyond. It harkens back to the days when albums really were works of art. They could be folded out and explored and enjoyed as an immersive experience in themselves, quite apart from the music contained within. We think Ferry Gouw and Gary Card should be congratulated.
Interesting peice of trivia: In 2004, when Paul headlined the Glastonbury Festival in England, the same Egypt Station artwork from his original painting adorned the pre-show curtain:
There is a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package of the year. In 2018 there was a tie for first place and so two winners were recognised (click here to see the list and scroll down to Award Number 65):
There’s a good article about both albums and their cover art here. There’s further information on both here also.
I guess we’ll just have to wait until January, 2019 to see if: a) Egypt Station receives a Grammy nomination for its extraordinary packaging, and b) it wins!
Paul McCartney always puts a lot of effort into the design and presentation of his albums. Two excellent examples are the totally integrated concept for his Electric Arguments release as The Fireman in 2008/09, which saw the standard CD right through to an extraordinary limited edition deluxe box set executed with aplomb; and his album New from 2013. You can find the story behind the cover art for that one here.
Speaking of inspirations for album cover artwork, the small print in the credits for Paul McCartney’s latest recording turns up some interesting background information on where he looked for the stylised image of the word NEW depicted on the cover.
Here’s the cover for the standard edition CD [and vinyl]:
…and the different coloured “deluxe” CD variation, which contains two bonus tracks:
Inside, along with who played and produced what, there’s this:
NEW album cover inspired by Dan Flavin with special thanks to Stephen Flavin
Logo and cover concept: Rebecca and Mike
Consultancy and design: YES
Cover Image: Ben Ib
Dan Flavin was an American minimalist sculptor who specialised in using coloured neon and fluorescent tubes. As an example, here’s Flavin’s 1987 work Untitled (to Don Judd, colorist) at the Tate Liverpool gallery in 2009 (photograph: Colin McPherson):
Or this (Site specific installation 1996 – Menil Collection, Houston Texas):
You can easily see where the New cover is coming from. The reference to Stephen Flavin is to Dan Flavin’s son, who has overseen the activities of his father’s estate since 1997. (For an in-depth and scholarly review of a retrospective exhibition of Dan Flavin works held in London in 2006 try this). The website Artsy.net has also created a page which really captures well what Flavin’s art is all about – and it has some great images too.
So much for the inspiration for the New cover.
Turns out though that the image used wasn’t actually made of fluorescent lights. See that reference to Ben Ib? Well, he’s a music video director who has worked extensively with Paul McCartney in the past. On his website Ib says he made the piece using a computer rendering program (with a logo and concept by Rebecca and Mike, and consultancy and design by YES). He also says the cover is “…my first foray into print work…It was a great team to work with under Paul’s guidance. I’ve also created the deluxe edition (gatefold) image.”
Ben Ib has done heaps of video work for McCartney. He created visual content for the “On the Run” and “Out There” tours, and the visuals for the song “Sing the Changes” which featured Barack Obama and which Sir Paul used for his headlining set at the Coachella festival. You can see a short extract of thathere.
Ib’s talents were also utilised in June 2008 when Paul McCartney came home to Liverpool to give a performance (the first in his home town in five years) for the Liverpool Sound 2008 event. Ib built a huge, beautiful 20-minute long visual collage to serve as a backdrop to the show. It charts Paul’s story – from the early Cavern club days to the present, with footage and memorabilia from Paul and Linda’s personal archives.
And Ben Ib did this short biographical documentary film featured on the deluxe CD re-issue edition of Ram. If you haven’t seen it here’s an extract:
Meanwhile….back to the cover of New and Paul McCartney has provided the following piece of advice:
“If you buy ‘NEW’ on CD, please be careful when removing the booklet and take it out through the front cover gap, rather than the inside gap; If you do it could rip the cover. I only know this because I did it three times before I realised the booklet had to come out of the front gap! I hope you enjoy the music!! And please pass this message on.”
To help illustrate his point the news page on his official site shows these two photographs. First the correct way to remove the booklet: