33 1/3 on Thursdays: Warhol Album Art

Jayn Pettingill | April 7th, 2022

Here at KCSM, we love dropping the needle on an Lp, savoring sounds of Jazz from an era before CDs and enjoying the spin of 33 1/3.

With one of the largest radio broadcast libraries, our vinyl library is a Jazz treasure trove. In anticipation of Record Store Day on April 23, we want to feature some of the album covers from our collection. In particular, cover art done by a very well-known artist: Andy Warhol.

Before The Velvet Underground or the Marilyn Monroe screen prints, Warhol made his way as a pen for hire, working often with legendary graphic designer Reid Miles. As a result, some of Warhol’s early design work can be seen on the Columbia Masterworks label on releases for Carlos Chavez, Vladimir Horowitz and Arturo Toscanini.

From 1955 on, we find Warhol’s work exhibiting a more personal touch. Which, if you consider the genre and the artists he was assigned, it is a logical, and necessary, progression for his work. In a sense, one could say that this “begins” mid-decade of the ’50s with a full face portrait of Count Basie.
This album features a pen and ink drawing that Warhol did of the band leader. Turning the Lp over, next to the liner notes, there is a photograph showing Basie seated at the piano, smoking a cigarette. Warhol used this photo to sketch the portrait on the front. It wasn’t until he began working for Prestige and Blue Note that Warhol began to sign his work.

Next week, another Warhol cover featuring his graphic design and his mother’s calligraphy.

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