2. Standing in the shadows
Elvis at a last supper with greaseball apostles, Little Richard as circus act, Jerry Lee Lewis in all manner of sleazy incarnations, the Beatles taking tea with the Queen ... these unforgettable images were by Guy Peellaert, the illustrator of the classic Rock Dreams, who died recently. His air-brushed, hallucinogenic portraits of the rock'n'roll pioneers said more than 1000 verbose rock critics. The captions were by the master of the one-liner, Nik Cohn, and as Paul Rambali said, they were "a reminder that brevity is the soul of pop." A sample: "Sam Cooke. Sam Cooke, shot dead in a motel, was black but dressed up white, sang Soul but wrote Teendreams, wagged his ass but gently, with a certain deference." Peellaert spent three years on the drawings, Cohn just a fortnight on the captions, and it sold a million copies. (What took Cohn so long? His timeless rock history Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom only took six weeks.) Jagger hired Peellaert to paint the cover of It's Only Rock'n'Roll, Bowie for Diamond Dogs (the dog/man's testicles were later painted out), Scorsese for the poster of Taxi Driver, Wim Wenders for Paris, Texas. Michael Herr (Dispatches) wrote the foreward to a Rock Dreams reissue. For a salon of cynicism, Peellaert was court portraitist. All the images from Rock Dreams are on his website, along with his other books.
3. Woke up this morning
… and wondered who is killing the graphic artists of rock’n’roll? The third to go to the great inkwell in the sky is the NME cartoonist Ray Lowry. Over many years he took the michael out of solipsistic rock musicians and their fans, and thought up endless variations on the opening line of Robert Johnson’s ‘Walking Blues’. But his most famous piece of artwork is the cover of the Clash’s London Calling, for which he took a Pennie Smith photo of Paul Simonon smashing his guitar and turned it into an update of Elvis’s first album.