Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gary Burden * 23 March 1933 (Cleveland, Ohio) + 7 March 2018 (L.A.)

Gary Burden, designer of covers of albums such as 'Papas & Mamas', Neil Young's 'After the gold rush', 'Crosby, Stills & Nash', Joni Mitchell's 'Blue', The Eagles' 'Desperado' and more has died.

by Neil Genzlinger
16 March 2018
published by The New York Times

Gary Burden, who beginning in the late 1960s designed memorable album covers for The Mamas & the Papas, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, the Eagles and numerous other stars of rock and folk-rock, died on 7 March 2018, in Los Angeles. He was 84. His wife and frequent collaborator, Janice Heo, confirmed the death. No cause was given.

Working in the pre-digital era, when music was sold primarily on vynil and artists were often trying to make a personal statement with their albums, Mr Burden created cover after cover that seared their way into the minds of fans.

He designed the first 'Crosby, Stills & Nash' album in 1969. featuring a Henry Diltz photograph of the three musicians on a ragged couch. He also designed the cover of Joni Mitchell's acclaimed 1971 album, 'Blue', a striking close-up of the singer in blue & black tones. He put the Eagles in Wild West regalia for 'Desperado' and Neil Young in a cheesy yellow jacket for 'On the beach' (1974).

In a recent 2015 video-interview with NPR's 'World Cafe' (Sense of place - L.A.) Mr Burden had a simple description of his work. 'How to visualize the music,' he said. 'That's been my mission'.

Gary Burden & Neil Young on Malibu Beach in California in 1974; photo by Henry Diltz.

'Gary always wanted the album packaging to reflect the spirit of the music and the wishes of the artists as much as possible,' Mr Orberst said by email. 'He was often at odds with record labels when they sought to cut costs at the expense of what he and the artist had envisioned. Gary usually won those battles.'

Gary Burden's design cover for 'The Papas & the Mamas present the Mamas & the Papas' (1968) re-directed his career. He used a photograph by Henry Diltz, his frequent collaborator, as the cover for 'Crosby, Stills & Nash' (1969). Dunhill Records & Atlantic Records.

The 1st 'Crosby, Stills & Nash' album cover, a photograph also taken by Henry Diltz, is among the most famous rock images of the period, and resulted in an amusing tale that Burden liked to tell. The image shows Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and David Crosby - in that order - on a beat-up couch in front of an equally beat-up house. The group was so new it hadn't named itself when the picture was taken.

Once the band was named, 'we decided, O.K., we'll just go back tomorrow and reshoot it, and you guys can sit in the proper order,' Burden said in the 'World Cafe' interview. But they found an empty spot where the house had been.

'Back at the back of the lot was a stack of wood and building materials. They had bulldozed it and just pushed it back out of the way. We obviously decided that was God telling us that we should go with what we had, so we did.'

Gary Burden in 1970.

Gary Burden was born on 23 May 1933, in Cleveland, Ohio to Lowell & Agatha Burden. He grew up primarily in South Florida, perpetually restless. 

'I came from a very conservative family,' he said, 'and I didn't fit in. I don't know why it was chosen for me to be their kid.'

But his escape route from that conservatism was unusual: At 16, persuading his mother to lie about his age, he left home to join the Marines. After leaving the service, he ended up in California, living what he described as a beatnik life for a time but eventually studying architectural design at the University of California at Berkeley. It was Cass Elliot of the Mamas & the Papas who redirected his career in the 1960s.

'I met Cass and she asked me to do a remodel of her home in Laurel Canyon,' he said, referring to the section of Los Angeles where many musicians were settling. 'So she's the one who said: "You kno, Gary, you should make our new cover; you know how to design stuff."'

He designed the group's 1968 album 'The Papas & the Mamas', and that was that.

'I blew off my three-piece suit and never looked back,' he said. 'That was kind of when I was born, the real me. Before that I was living somebody else's idea of who I should be.'

The Mamas & the Papas were on the Dunhill label, and Mr Burden in short order got the designing assignments of other Dunhill groups like Steppenwolf and Three Dog Night.

Through Mama Cass, he also met numerous other performers living in and around Laurel Canyon, including Neil Young, who became a regular customer and collaborator.

Mr Burden designed more than 40 albums for Neil Young, beginning in 1970 with 'After the gold rush', and later they collaborated on designs. When Mr Young won his first Grammy Award, in January 2010, it wasn't for his music, but for 'best boxed or special limited-edition package' for 'Neil Young Archives Vol. 1', an art-direction honour he shared with Gary Burden and Ms Heo.

Burden dressed Neil Young in cheap polyester clothing for the cover of 'On the beach' (1974) and was nearly bitten by a horse taking the cover photo for 'Crazy Horse' (1971) - Reprise Records.

In a 2015 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Burden said that his cover for Mr Young's 'On the beach' was his favourite.

This was about America in the 1970s when everything was cheaper than it looks', he said. The cover is a photograph of a beach scene, a piece of a Cadillac jammed into the sand beside some yellow beach furniture, Mr Young in the background, his back to the camera.

'Neil and I went to a store that sold cheap polyester clothing and we got a jacket and pants for him to wear', Gary recalled.

The band with which Neil Young has often performed, Crazy Horse, released an album in 1971, titled simply 'Crazy Horse', that provided Burden with another of his many stories. The cover is a distorted close-up of a horse.

'I seldom, if ever, took the photos myself, because I was very intimidaded by the camera', he told the CBC. 'But I took the picture of that horse. It was trying to bite me, and after I had the image, I stretched it so it looked totally weird.'

A striking, moody close-up of Joni Mitchell adorned Mr. Burden's cover for 'Blue' (1971). He used a photograph of Jim Morrison and The Doors standing in Los Angeles' Morrison Hotel to illustrate the 1970 album of the same name. From left: Reprise Records, Elektra Records.

Gary Burden teamed up with Henry Diltz for many of his covers. One assignment became The Doors' 1970 album 'Morrison Hotel', featuring the band (whose lead-singer was Jim Morrison) in the window of the Morrison Hotel in Los Angeles. The manager at the front desk refused them permission to take the shot.

'So we went outside and thought we could just take the picture outside with the sign in the background, but as we were doing that I noticed the desk manager leave and get into the elevator, and we rain in.'

Henry Diltz, who was outside, photographed the band members just inside the front window looking out.

In addition to his wife, his survivors include a daughter, Amanda Burden; three sons, Jesse, Breton & Tim and three grandchildren.

The advent of the CD and digital downloading naturally affected Burden's work, though he continued to design.

'As times changed in the music industry,' Mr. Oberst said, 'he adapted to the new formats and technology, but the LP was always his favourite - he said because it felt the best to hold in your hand and was the easiest to roll a joint on.' 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Brenda Lee

'All the way' released on 7 August 1961.
Brenda Lee... By request; released in 1964

Little Miss Dynamite had a lot of style... 
with Elvis in two instances...
Celly Campello, Brenda Lee & Tony Campello. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

60s & 70s

'Tela Ilustrada' was a movie-magazine distributed at Rio de Janeiro cinemas in the 1960s; Marisol's was the May 1963 issue;  Alain Delon's on the cover of the September 1962 issue.

Luiz Melodia nee Luiz Carlos dos Santos *7 January 1951 + 4 August 2017. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017

Freddy & other Cuban acts

Fredesvinda García aka Freddy - * 1935 in Camagüey + 31 July 1961 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

'India' Ortiz Guerrero & Jose Assunción Flores

'India' is probably the most beautiful Paraguayan guarania ever written. Conjunto Folclórico Guarany did the most exquisite recording of all. Antonio Cardozo is the vocalist. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Gatica, Elvis, Belafonte, Martin Luther, Sal Mineo...

Lucho Gatica having a chat with Elvis Presley.
Sylvia Moy helped Stevie Wonder write 'Uptight', 'My cherie amour' & 'I was born to love her' .
Harry & Martin... 
Sal Mineo & Elvis.