Remembering Alan Aldridge: The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, Volume 1
English graphic designer, artist, and illustrator Alan Aldridge passed away at the age of 73 on 17th February. Aldridge was famous for his colourful imagery during the sixties and early seventies, and was, arguably, one of the most influential designers of the 20th Century. Though Aldridge may not have been as recognisable a name as Damien Hirst or David Hockney, he was no stranger to celebrity prestige; he biked through the Hollywood Hills with Steve McQueen, beat Salvador Dalí to a draw-off, and painted the town red with Jimi Hendrix.
Following his work as a freelance illustrator for The Sunday Times and Penguin Books in 1965, Aldridge started his own graphic design studio, INK. British rock band The Who then commissioned Aldridge to design the cover for their second studio album, A Quick One, in the same year, and his psychedelic tenor, briefly seen in his illustrations for Penguin Science Fiction Books (1962-1967), quickly began to become a noticeable feature of his style.
It wasn't until 1968 where he befriended, and, subsequently, began to draught designs for The Beatles. His most notable work for the band was The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (1969), where he interpreted the lyrics for such songs as "Yellow Submarine", "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" and "Revolution", all in striking technicolour. He was soon hailed as "His Royal Master of Images to Their Majesties The Beatles" by John Lennon, as he perfectly captured the psychedelia of both the 1960's and 70's in his kaleidoscopic collection of illustrations and graphic design work; his stunning design of Lennon descending a staircase into his head, for example, expressed perfectly the melancholy lyrics for Please Please Me's (1963) "There's A Place".
We got our hands on a copy of the first volume of The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics to showcase Aldridge's knack for colour, shape, and - above all - intelligence in artistic flair:
Pursuing the success of the first volume of his Illustrated Lyrics book, a second was published a couple of years later, and he quickly began to garner the interest of other musicians including British rock group Cream (Goodbye Cream, 1969), Elton John (Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, 1975), Benjamin Britten (War Requiem, 1997), Tears For Fears (Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, 2004), and American funk-metal group Incubus (Light Grenades, 2006).
Whether "Beardsley in Blue Jeans" or "The Man with the Kaleidoscopic Eyes", Alan will be remembered as one of the most inspiring artists of his generation and generations to come.